The Worlds Toughest Row

Two ordinary middle-aged Men, rowing unaided across 3000 miles of ocean. 30 - 90 days at sea, 50 foot waves, rowing 2 hour shifts eating freeze dried food and drinking desalinated water. Burning up to 10,000 calories a day we anticipate losing 20% of our body weight.

Why are we doing the challenge?

Like a lot of ordinary people we both share a desire to find out and wonder if we would be capable of achieving in an extreme environment and big challenge.

The Talisker Whisky, Atlantic Row is billed a ‘THE WORLD'S TOUGHEST ROW’. Crews are unsupported whilst at sea and carry all the equipment needed to survive what the ocean crossing will throw at them.

50 foot waves, water maker malfunctions, blisters, salt sores, relentless rowing and sleep deprivation, amongst other things.

We will certainly test our lifelong friendship during the crossing.  As a team of two we can keep each-other focused on the challenge, training and build-up period. Keeping spirits up during the weeks alone at sea by sharing the highs and lows.

The two charities chosen have significant personal links and they will share the funds raised 50/50.

Blue’s wife was diagnosed with Cervical cancer a few years ago, now all clear Blue is keen to pay back in some way for the support she received at the time and since as a young father of two who had to face some scary thoughts.

‘Brain Research Uk’ was a charity chosen India Wilkinson, the daughter of close family friends who battled with Brain Tumours for two years.  Her courage and positive attitude during these years inspired Hugh that perhaps it was time to stop putting things off and get and row an ocean before he is too old to do it.

Having seen some of the significant TV and Press coverage of the Talisker Race it stood out as a well organised and supported way to get an experience and challenge ourselves.  It limits the chance of failure and hopefully makes the risk somewhat manageable and at the same time raise significant funds for our charities.

We hope to inspire other ordinary people to take new things on and challenge themselves with extraordinary adventures.

Hugh

I am a 48 year old, ordinary middle-aged man with, what my daughters kindly term as a ‘fatpack'.

In 2003 I stumbled upon a copy of ’Wild man of the Sea’ by Jim Shekdhar in a local bookshop. A seed was sown and I added crossing an ocean to my bucket list. With three young children it got put on the back burner.

Last year a teenage daughter of close friends battling two brain Tumours entered a hospice. Watching her courage and the remarkable way she dealt with her diagnosis and illness over almost two years made me realise that at nearly 50 I had better get on and row across that ocean.

I hope that it will be a great adventure and an amazing experience to be at sea for a longer period than most. As a landlubber, who gets seasick on a Cross Channel Ferry I am sure there will be many pain barriers to get through.

Getting to the start is a big enough challenge, I hope to get to Antigua in 2020 with the help of my rowing partner ‘Blue Baxter’ and the support of family and friends. ‘Possibility’ is a powerful stimulus and I hope that to show that, even an ordinary middle-aged man, with a little discipline and tenacity can row cross an ocean.

I am determined to enjoy every part of the journey and I am looking forward to sharing the adventure with an old mate. I plan to raise as much money as possible for the charity ‘Brain Research UK’ in memory of India Wilkinson, one of the bravest people I have ever known.

Blue

 

My name is David Baxter, I'm known to my friends and family as “Blue” a nickname I’ve had since I was a boy.

I am 47 years old and grew up in Lechlade-on-Thames a town in the Cotswolds also the highest navigable point of the River Thames. I spent my childhood messing about on and in the river. School was a place I went to see my friends during the week. At 17 I joined the army; the first my parents knew about it was when I came home from the recruitment office with the papers to sign as I was too young to join without their consent. I spent the next four years as a guardsman in the 1st Battalion Coldstream guards serving in Northern Ireland and the first Gulf war. I enjoyed my time in the army where I learnt a lot about myself and my capabilities.

After leaving the army I hitch hiked across France with a friend who I had served with in the army. We spent weeks living on a beach in the south of France with no clear plan and no money, we finally found work picking grapes. I earned enough money to move on and made my way back to England where I spent the next four years drifting through life.

I went to college in South Devon all I really learnt was how to surf. I then worked with my friend Hugh who was a stonemason and had his own business. I enjoyed the work it was physical and rewarding and Hugh was on my wavelength. During this time he asked me if I would drive overland to India with him; it was an adventure that I will never forget. My next move led me to live in North Devon where I met my wife and where we now live with our two children Sonny and Florence.

I currently work in the aerospace industry and in my spare time I am a member of the local surf life-saving club where I coach and manage the nipper team who compete at regional and national level; I also compete at these levels as a master. I enjoy being part of a team and the challenge of competition, not necessarily winning but just pushing myself and I am in or on the sea whatever the weather.

So why the Talisker Atlantic challenge, a 3000 mile rowing race from La Gomera in the Canary Islands to Antigua, surely it's cheaper and easier to fly to Antigua!  Well Hugh sent me a text simply saying how do you fancy rowing the Atlantic? It took me one day and a short conversation with my wife who just said “do it” to accept the challenge.

I have my reasons for accepting the challenge, firstly it ticks all the boxes when it comes to pushing yourself and secondly it gives me the potential to raise a lot of money for a charity which gives support and hope to women with cervical cancer, something my wife Marci has survived.

Marci was diagnosed with cervical cancer in 2015, luckily they caught it early and after having a radical hysterectomy she made a full recovery and three years on there is no sign of cancer. She carries the mental scars of having cancer and the physical effects of having her womb and lower lymph nodes removed. At that time I never for one moment thought I would lose her but I just took each day as it came and made sure the kids did not worry and that Marci was able to focus on herself. Life is a journey full of challenges and opportunities to be taken.

 

Days until the race!