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The Common Oars

by Alexandra Parren
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The Common Oars Athletes Sundried

What happens when a group of friends can’t say no to a challenge? The Common Oars tell Sundried how four friends ended up determined to row non-stop around Great Britain for charity… and not only that…they want to do it in record breaking time!

Luke from the Common Oars tells us what 2017 has in store for them.

Tell us about the Common Oars challenge:

“More people have travelled to the moon than completed this”

The Common Oars Challenge is simple: 4 men, 1 boat, 1 aim - to leave Tower Bridge and navigate ourselves around the shores of the United Kingdom completely unaided. We can have no contact with other people and must carry all supplies with us from start to finish. We will navigate some of the world's biggest tides, busiest shipping lanes, and most changeable weather as we row in 2 hour shift patterns day and night and attempt to add to the list of only 14 people to have ever achieved this challenge - to put that into perspective: more people have travelled to the moon than completed this. Many have tried but only 14 have succeeded unaided.

What made you decide to come up with the challenge?

We, unfortunately, can't lay claim to coming up with this idea. The 4 of us have various sporting and challenge backgrounds including Ironmans, summiting Kilimanjaro, and representing Great Britain in modern pentathlon. We read about the challenge and knew it was something we had to go for. None of us consider ourselves easy to break and this is a test in which none of us have experience, which makes it even more exciting. It's something that we can go through together from complete beginners to finishers or even world record holder.

Tell us why you decided to raise money for the NuVasive Spine Foundation?

After the common cold, back pain is the most common reason that an individual will go and visit their local doctor, it's something that 1 in 3 people will suffer from in their lifetime and something that, in some cases, can be treated or at least managed. The NSF works with globally recognised spinal surgeons who give up their time and travel to sub-Saharan Africa where the access to care is limited. They work with the surgeons to see patients, train local doctors and surgeons, and also educate staff in order to provide a better service locally. To see the change in just one person’s quality of life thanks to this great cause is incredible. It's somewhere that you really can see your support make a difference.
If you want to find out more then please visit to learn about the work and meet see some of the lives that NSF has touched.

What’s the furthest you’ve rowed so far?

Other than standard Olympic distance our efforts so far have been concentrated on long (and sometimes very tedious) rowing machine sessions while we are fully prepping the boat. We plan to do a number of long/overnight trips before the end of the coming year and other challenges that will test our mental and physical strength. We will be sure to let you know how we get on.

What training do you have to do to be row ready?

That’s a good question, and an answer you may not quite expect. Besides from the standard upper body and core strength which we all need (some more than others), we need to get used to being in the boat, we need to learn about every aspect of the boat from the simplest to the most complex, so that if something does go wrong, we have the capabilities of fixing the problem without hindering our chances at beating the world record or being unaided.

Are there any other things you're having to prep for ready for the big trip?

Quite simply, yes. We have been told that one of the most difficult aspects of our challenge is that we will be able to see the coastline and at low times may be tempted to stop, this is what makes rowing round the United Kingdom more difficult that rowing the Atlantic. However, we are all determined/stubborn enough to not give in to such pressures, hence why we are doing the challenge in the first place. Besides this, we are always looking to get sponsors and raise money to help the NSF so that it's a valuable and worthwile journey.

What are you most excited about?

The prospect of setting a new world record is very exciting. In addition, some of the incredible sights we hope to see such as parts of the coastline we have never seen before, and marine life such as dolphins if we are lucky enough. However, as we all love to challenge ourselves the sheer magnitude of the challenge is enough to get the blood pumping. However, it’s important to remember why we are doing it. Handing over £100,000 to the NSF will be pretty exciting too.

What are you most nervous for?

There is probably a fair bit to be nervous about, but I would say it comes down to two main things. Firstly, weather forcing us to retire or inhibiting us to a degree that the world record becomes unrealistic. And secondly, illness or injury forcing the retirement of a crew member. However these things remain largely out of our control so we just plan to focus on being as well prepared as we possibly can.

What do you like about Sundried?

Sundried is a unique company in the sense that when you receive the product you can follow its journey, and we all love the Sundried ethos. Also, like us, Sundried cares about the environment and is passionate about charity work. When it comes to Sundried and The Common Oars we are very alike and couldn’t be happier to be wearing such stylish clothing designed by athletes.

And from all of us here at Sundried - Good luck!

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