Men From Hampshire And Dorset In Rowing Challenge

A Winchester man and a soldier from Blandford are setting off today on a 3,000 mile rowing challenge for charity.

Will North from Shawford and Dan Howie (Team Atlantic Row 2013) will leave the shores of La Gomera in the Canary Islands today (Wednesday 4 December) and row 3,000 miles across the Atlantic Ocean to English Harbour, Antigua as part of The Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge.  

The gruelling race will consist of a 24 hour a day rowing schedule, each completing alternate two hour shifts until the 3,000 mile course is complete. Alongside the demanding day-to-day rowing, both team members will battle a series of testing circumstances such as waves reaching up to 50ft, the dangers of rowing a major shipping lane, deadly marine life, physical exhaustion and sleep deprivation.

The motivation behind this task is driven by inspirational people in both Will and Dan's lives and the crew are currently seeking corporate sponsors to join the campaign and help fund Team Atlantic Row 2013. As a result, the crew will aim to raise over £200,000 for Cancer Research, Leukaemia and Lymphoma and St. Anna's.

In 2006, Will's father was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma and in 2009, Dan's father was diagnosed with prostate cancer.  2011 saw the sudden and tragic death of friend Gareth Crockett who was undergoing a challenge to raise money in memory of a friend who he lost to Leukaemia. Finally, Will and Dan look to the future to support small charity St Anna's in their plight to house and school underprivileged children in Ghana.

2006 Atlantic rowers James Cracknell and Ben Fogle have been two of the team's biggest supporters to date. Donating their 'Spirit of EDF' boat to the team for promotional use, they hope that Will and Dan can not only follow in their footsteps but also beat the other boats to the finish line in English Harbour.

Olympic Gold Medallist and Adventurer James Cracknell said:

"I know first-hand how hard this challenge is and I wish the boys every success in their crossing."

Meanwhile, a group of servicemen - two who lost limbs in Afghanistan - are preparing to take on the same challenge to raise money for injured troops.

The four-man Row2Recovery team - including Captain James Kayll from Dorset (pictured far left) - are doing their final preparation before they take on the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge to raise money for Help for Heroes.

Captain Kayll, from Blandford, injured Cayle Royce and Scott Blaney, and Captain Mark Jenkins will row 3,000 miles from the Canary Islands to the Caribbean.

Last year a six-man Row2Recovery team raised £1 million for wounded soldiers after completing the feat in 51 days.

And this year's team has travelled to La Gomera in the Canary Islands as they prepare to begin the challenge.

The race, which includes 17 teams from countries including Great Britain, Sweden, and Australia, was scheduled to start on Monday (2 December) but was postponed due to bad weather.

The Row2Recovery team will spend around 50 days at sea, rowing for two hours at a time, living on freeze-dried food, and battling the elements.

31-year-old Captain Kayll, from Blandford, said:

"We'll face all sorts of challenges, from the physical effects of the row - the deterioration of your body, rashes, chafing, and bruises - to the lack of sleep and then there are the environmental issues, the weather and the waves.

"But I always say that with this it's 80% mental and 20% physical so if you are prepared mentally then that is a huge advantage.''

The men spent their last few days in La Gomera with family, who will wave them off when they start the race.

Prince Harry has taken time out of his Walking with the Wounded South Pole Challenge to phone the team.

In a call made from inside his tent at the start line of the 210-mile polar charity trek, Prince Harry told the Row2Recovery team: "Good luck and have a safe trip."

The Apache helicopter pilot joked in his satellite phone call to the rowers at their base camp in the Canary Islands that his challenge was far more testing than theirs. Wrapped up against the cold, he said: "It's minus 30 (degrees Celsius) here - apparently it's plus 30 where you are."

When one of the rowing team joked that their challenge was "a little bit further than your walk", Harry responded: "Yeah, but rowing 3,000 miles is a hell of a lot easier than walking 300km by the way. FYI."

His quip was met with laughter by the rowers, who gathered around their phone in bright sunshine - in stark contrast to the freezing conditions Harry is in.

Harry is taking part in the gruelling expedition alongside Sergeant Duncan Slater, Captain Guy Disney, Captain Ibrar Ali MC and Major Kate Philp,

When the rowers conceded the fourth-in-line to the throne had his work cut out with a broken toe, he replied: "I'm not really allowed to talk about my broken toe next to people like (Guy) Disney, who's only got one leg."

"Have a really good time, sure we'll see you in three months and you'll sail through, bar the 50ft waves", said the Prince, who also warned them to "avoid the occasional great white shark coming underneath the boat".

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