Two Yorkshireman are among four young men aiming to row 2,000 miles around the UK for charity. Catherine Scott reports
It has been two years in the planning and this week it nearly ended in disaster.
On June 3 The Rough Ready Row crew including Fred Moore from Richmond and Kyle Booysens from York, left Tower Bridge to row around the United Kingdom.
The route is known as the World’s Toughest Rowing Challenge and more people have landed on the moon than completed it unaided.
Their aim had been to complete the journey in 26 days, 9 hours, 9 minutes and four seconds to set a new a new Guinness World Record and raise £100,000 for charity.
They were doing well until nine days in, when disaster struck at the 500 mile point.
The boys were forced inland at Milford Haven to fix an equipment failure which couldn’t be mended at sea. Their water maker failed on Saturday meaning they had less than two days’ supply of fresh water and no way of making any more.
And things got worse when they were told on Tuesday there was no way of mending the equipment, dashing any hopes of achieving the record.
But they are determined to complete the challenge they have spent two years preparing for.
“ nitially we were all gutted but after an hour or so we realised that two of our three objectives to do this remain intact,” Fred , 25, a recruitment consultant told the Yorkshire Post. “ We want to raise as much money and awareness as possible for the Natalie Kate Moss Trust and we want to get round. We are more determined that ever to complete the distance and top £100,000 fundraising.”
Kyle, 25, from York who is studying for an MBA at Manchester Business School added: “It was disappointing initially but now we’re set on finishing the distance and raising the money. Plus it’s a pride thing: we said we’d do it and we’re committed to doing it. I’m not ready to go home yet!”
The team, which also incudes man behind the challenge, Andrew Mason from Barnard Castle and Wim Stevenson, refilled with a heavy 120 litres of water, enough for six days of rowing before setting off again from Pembrokeshire yesterday,
They will then stop and refill in the waters of the Outer Hebrides and do the same for the third and final time near Alnwick, Newcastle.
It will need all their physical and emotional reserves to complete the challenge, knowing the world record has gone.
“We haven’t hit the hardest part I guess,” says Fred. “We’re looking at being out at sea until July 3rd or 4th now – so another three weeks. Our biggest new challenge is carrying the extra water on board – we have 120L which is heavy and will alter the way the boat moves and will require more effort from us with the extra weight on board.”
They still plan to row round-the-clock in pairs, with the resting two sleeping as best they can on board the boat. In every 24-hour block, they will each average around 12 hours of rowing and burn an estimated 6,000 calories.
In each two hour period they are not rowing, they need to navigate, fix the boat, eat and keep themselves as clean as possible – any sores or scrapes won’t heal, they’ll just get worse.
“The wind is the single most challenging aspect: it is always changing and you have adapt to that,” says Kyle. “So far we’ve done nine days on the water and physically and mentally we’ve dealt with it well. I tend to fall asleep on the oars a little bit but that’s the worst it’s been so far. I think the hardest part is yet to come…”
The four have trained for two years in all weathers all around Britain from Boulmer off the Northumberland coast to Ullswater in the Lake District, including hours of rigorous rowing, strength building work and tireless fundraising.
They have also spent many hours renovating the boat – nicknamed The Pig – and obtained the specialist kit and supplies to see them through a month at sea.
“Our training has certainly been varied and we’ve tried to replicate some of the toughest conditions possible to prepare ourselves for the challenge,” said Kyle. “We have had to push ourselves to the absolute limit – even beyond the limit on one occasion which ended with up with the RNLI coming to our rescue.”
The four friends have also set out to raise awareness and vital funds for the Natalie Kate Moss Trust, a charity set up in 2012 in honour of their close friend who died suddenly, aged just 27, of a brain haemorrhage. The Trust works in partnership with Manchester University to support students who have suffered a brain injury to complete a degree course at the university and to contribute funds for ground-breaking research into new treatments for Stroke and, significantly, its prevention.
“Natalie was simply an epic human being and a dear friend to us,” said Andrew.
Fred added: “We have seen already that the Natalie Kate Moss Trust has invested in vital research and sponsored two brain injured students to complete their studies at Manchester University. We have had overwhelming support which is humbling. Since we hit problems here the outpouring of support and motivation to keep us going will really help us get back out there. We’re proud and happy to know we can benefit the NKM Trust and hope that people who haven’t yet donated can see how much difference they can make by supporting our Challenge.”
They may have missed out on the world record but the boys haven’t been put off.
“While we’re rowing we’re all thinking about the next challenge – will it be a mountain, one of the poles, a swim? Not sure yet but we will do more challenges,” says Kyle.
So far, the Rough Ready Row crew has raised £80,000 – but they want to raise £100,000. They hope that now their challenge is under way, people will appreciate the effort they are making and the risks they are taking and donate what they can to the NKM Trust.
The new schedule will see the crew arrive back in London on July 3 or 4 after conquering some of the toughest waters.
To sponsor the crew visit www.justgiving.com/fundraising/RoughReadyRow.
To find out more about the Rough Ready Row, visit roughreadyrow.co.uk.
For more on the the work of the Natalie Kate Moss Trust visit www.nataliekatemoss.co.uk