In December 2019, four childhood friends from South Devon will embark on the challenge of a lifetime.
Tom, Lewis, Chris and Charlie make up team All Oar Nothing and will attempt to row 3,000 miles unassisted across the Atlantic as they compete to win the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge – the world’s toughest rowing race – in support of four incredible charities.
We spoke with the boys about their challenge to find out more.
What made you decide to embark upon this challenge?
All Oar Nothing are working around the clock to raise money for:
Kidney Cancer UK – Tom’s Dad, Adrian, has beaten kidney cancer only to see it return again and the battle is ongoing. There is no better man to row in aid of. Kidney Cancer UK seeks to increase awareness and knowledge around kidney cancer.
OneSight – Lewis has a prescription of -9.00 and struggles to see anything without corrective lenses. Unfortunately, not everyone is so lucky. 2.5 billion people in the world need vision correction but over 1 billion don't have access. OneSight aims to help those people with quality vision care.
Right to Play – Play gives give children the opportunity to learn about themselves and their surroundings. Chris was lucky enough to have that opportunity, but millions of children do not. Right To Play use the power of play to educate and empower children to overcome the effects of poverty, conflict and disease around the world.
EHE Race Cancer Charity UK – In 2015, Charlie’s brother Harry was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer called EHE. After 2 major bowel and liver operations he has regular 6 months scans checking for recurrence as currently there is no cure. EHERCC supports patients around the world whilst promoting and funding research into EHE.
How are you training for this challenge?
All Oar Nothing has a specialist ocean rowing coach, Gus Barton. The training is divided into 8-week blocks that focus on mobility, strength and power. Each block is then broken down into 5 or 6 sessions per week with a combination of weights and indoor rowing. On top of this Tom, Lewis, Chris and Charlie have a daily stretching routine, take yoga/Pilates classes and, most importantly, are out on the water every week improving their rowing!
What do you eat to fuel for this type of endurance event?
The crew will burn over 1.5 million calories during the crossing – equivalent to 40,000 per day or 10,000 per person per day. With no outside assistance permitted, seawater from the ocean will be processed through a solar powered desalination unit (water maker) producing approx. 6 gallons of water per day for cooking and hydration. The diet will consist of mainly freeze-dried rations; the crew will be testing various nutrition and hydration strategies during 24, 40 and 50-hour practice rows in May 2019.
What has been the toughest thing you've had to overcome so far in your journey?
With Tom and Charlie based in London, Chris in Singapore and Lewis in Sydney, All Oar Nothing has to coordinate its campaign through three different time zones so the level of admin is like a second job. However, injuries have been the team’s biggest obstacle to date – both Tom and Lewis have suffered severely with back injuries, which left them side-lined for weeks at a time.
What has been the highlight of your journey so far?
In April 2018, All Oar Nothing completed a 24-hour indoor row in London and Singapore – rowing non-stop, together the crew rowed over 880,000 metres.
What are you most looking forward to for the actual challenge?
Rowing across the world’s second largest ocean will push the crew to their physical and mental limits; there’s a reason that more people have climbed Everest than have successfully navigated the 3,000 nautical miles from La Gomera, off the coast of Africa, to English Harbour, Antigua.
The World Record set in 2017/2018 race is 29 days and the longest time to cross is 120 days. As the name suggests, the crew is aiming high and want to get across the Atlantic in the shortest time possible, ultimately aiming to win the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge. In order to do this, it is going to require immense sacrifice and sticking to an agreed process no matter the pain to achieve our goal. The crew agreed their goals and understand what it’s going to take to realise them.
What are you most nervous about for the challenge?
There is a real risk of capsizing in the middle of the Atlantic – in the 2017/18 race 26 of 28 boats capsized. The risk is even greater at night when “freak waves”, which can exceed 40ft, are less easy to spot. In addition, the underside of the boat must be regularly cleaned to avoid barnacles developing – this means that all of the crew will have to take turns diving off into shark-infested waters.
What advice would you give to other people thinking of taking on a similar challenge?
Start early: the challenge is far more than just the row, it is a two-year mission of meticulous preparation.
Speak to past participants: the crew is working closely with Dutch Atlantic Four who won the 2018/2019 race and Row Row Row Our Boat, whose boat – Emma – we will be rowing in this year’s challenge. Both teams have been incredibly open and honest about the challenges that lie ahead!
How can people support you?
Without the support of sponsors, All Oar Nothing will not be able to make this unique global challenge a reality. Sponsorship will allow the crew to cover the costs necessary to get to the start line, including the race entry fees, the boat and specialist navigation equipment, which in total amounts to almost £100,000.
Sponsor at: www.alloarnothing.co.uk/sponsor
Get in touch with All Oar Nothing in the following ways: