This winter, whilst most of us were curled up indoors avoiding the cold weather, Will North and Dan Howie were embarking on the journey of a lifetime: the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge.
This incredibly demanding 3,000 mile rowing challenge is known to be the most dangerous rowing contest in the world, with factors such as sleep deprivation, weight loss, sharks, huge waves, extreme pain and both physical and psychological exhaustion posing very real threats to life.
The boys spent over two years preparing for this gruelling trial, but despite their physical efforts they could not have achieved their goal without their passion driving them forwards. Their aim was to raise £200,000 for three charities very close to their hearts: Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research, Cancer Research UK and St Anna’s, a school and home for orphaned and abandoned children.
With plenty of support from their friends, families and charities, Team Atlantic Row 2013 set off from San Sebastian in La Gomera on the 4th December with their sights firmly set thousands of miles away, on Nelson’s Dockyard English Harbour in far-off Antigua. Undertaking such a colossal and risky challenge is hard to even imagine, but thankfully both Will and Dan possessed enough of the steely grit, courage and fortitude required to spend 53 days alone in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean.
Rowing in intense alternating two-hour sessions, this was a challenge that stretched the limits of both mind and body. Will and Dan’s spirits were buoyed by small touches like their Christmas stockings (because you’re never too old), birthday surprises, dolphin sightings, visits from 25-foot whales and, of course, their own determination and passion for their cause.
Not only did this resolve push them towards completing the 3,000 Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge in a staggering 53 days, 9 hours and 30 minutes, it also pushed the boys towards winning their category and coming first in the pairs’ class. Their arrival in Antigua on 26th January was just as emotional and rewarding as you might expect, with their families and friends giving the boys a much-deserved hero’s welcome.
Now, three weeks on, it’s back to normality for Dan and Will, and impressive as ever, they were back at their desks within a fortnight. As the donations continue to stack up, the boys can rest assured that their mammoth rowing effort has undoubtedly changed lives.
Have a look at some of the most interesting, surprising and impressive stats of Dan and Will’s journey below – and don’t forget it’s not too late to donate!
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