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The British Army is rowing the Atlantic Ocean!  For the first time, a 4-man Army team is entering the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge, a 3000 mile unsupported international rowing race across the North Atlantic Ocean in December 2019. 

Billed as the world’s toughest row, this is the ultimate test of physical and mental endurance and one which aligns directly to the Army’s ethos of challenge, adventure, teamwork and leadership.  Over approximately six weeks, the team of three Army officers and an 18yr old Private soldier, just out of Basic Training, will row in shifts throughout the day and night as they battle their way from the Canary Islands to Antigua. 


The obvious question…  The team are all based at the Army Foundation College, Harrogate.  Delivering the most comprehensive soldier basic training in the world, this unit transforms male and female teenagers from civilians to soldiers, giving them an education, leadership training, sports, adventurous training and much more.  It offers one of the best examples of social mobility in the UK and is a jewel in the Army’s training crown. That a recently graduated recruit is part of the team, and the skipper is the College Commanding Officer, is typical of the level of ambition, camaraderie and uniqueness of the College.  By entering this event the Army want to showcase, not only the quality of young people who continue to join up, but also the transformative effect of military training, the resilience of recruits and the level of expectation of soldiers graduating from basic training.

They also want to support the Army’s national charity through their endeavours.  ABF The Soldiers’ Charity will be the extremely worthy recipient of the intended £100k fund-raising target.  They exist to restore dignity and remove disadvantage to soldiers, veterans and their families.

World’s Toughest Row


The Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge is an annual race from La Gomera in the Canary Islands to Antigua. 
In mid-December 2019, approximately 30 crews will set off to row the 3000 nautical miles to Nelson's Dockyard in Antigua.  The fastest crews will cross inside 6 weeks, but 100+ days at days at sea is not unusual.  Fewer people have rowed the Atlantic than climb Mount Everest in one season and rowers race, not just against the other crews, but against the deterioration of their bodies and minds.  Sea-sickness, salt sores, exposure, sunburn, chronic muscle fatigue, sleep deprivation and exhaustion are all common hazards and crews have to prepare extremely carefully and work very well as a team to have any chance of making a successful crossing.

Each boat is completely self-supporting with the crew having to complete courses in sea survival, first aid, navigation by the stars and how to make sea-water drinkable!  Each team member must master his or her 9m x 2m floating, fibreglass environment. If any equipment breaks, it is entirely up to them to fix it!
— Captain Alex Walsh
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The Boat

Each boat is completely self-supporting, with the crew having to complete courses in sea survival, first aid, navigation by the stars and how to make the sea potable! Each team member needs to master his or her 9m x 2m floating, fibreglass environment.

If the desalinator breaks, or the GPS malfunctions, they are the only ones who will be there to fix it.


  • Each team will row in excess of 1.5 million oar strokes over a race.

  • Rowers will row for 2 hours, and sleep for 2 hours, constantly, 24 hours a day.

  • More people have climbed Everest than rowed an ocean.

  • Over €6million has been raised for charities worldwide over the past 4 races.

  • At its deepest, the Atlantic Ocean is 8.5km/5.28 miles deep.

  • The waves the rowers will experience can measure up to 20ft high.

  • There are two safety yachts supporting the teams as they cross the ocean. In the 2013 race, one yacht traveled a massive 9000nm!

  • The 2013 winning Team Locura arrived in Antigua with a blue marlin beak pierced through the hull of the boat.

  • Each rower is expected to use 800 sheets of toilet paper during their crossing.

  • The teams are supported 24/7 by two land-based duty officers.

  • In the 2016 race, solo rower Daryl Farmer arrived in Antigua after 96 days, rowing without a rudder to steer with for nearly 1200miles/40 days.

  • Each rower needs to aim to consume 10 litres of water per day.

  • Rowers burn in excess of 5,000 calories per day.

  • There is no toilet on board – rowers use a bucket!

  • Each rower loses on average 12kg crossing the Atlantic!


Find out more about our planning,
preparation and training by reading our blog.