Yorkshire military men prepare to battle the Atlantic

Four fearless friends with military connections are preparing to row across the Atlantic next year to mark a century since the end of the First World War. Chris Burn reports.

From left to right: Glyn Sadler, Will Quarmby, Duncan Roy and Fraser Mowlem

It is known as the ‘world’s toughest endurance race’, covering 3,000 nautical miles and taking months to complete. Now a group of friends from Yorkshire are attempting to join the select band who have managed to row across the Atlantic - a feat achieved by fewer people than have gone into space or climbed Mount Everest.

But the Row4Victory team, made up of an ex-Royal Marine, a Royal Engineer, a chief technician in the Royal Air Force and a coffee-shop owner, now need to raise £100,000 before they can take to the high seas for the start of the challenge in December 2018.

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The team are hoping they will be able to beat the current race record in the Talisker Whiskey Atlantic Challenge of 37 days, with the group rowing in pairs in two-hour shifts. They will set off from the Canary Island and end up in Antigua and are likely to face storms, hunger and sleep deprivation along the way.

They intend to raise money to support the work of the Royal British Legion. The money they are currently raising will be used to buy a boat, which will be sold off at the end of the trip to give the proceeds to the charity.

Among those in the team is former Royal Marines commando Glyn Sadler, whose military career included tours of Iraq and Afghanistan. Now a quality assurance and engineering consultant living close to the village of Borrowby in North Yorkshire with his wife and family, he says he has deeply personal reasons for taking on the challenge.

“Having lost comrades in battle and seen the effects of war on mental and physical health, I draw inspiration from efforts made by others to help and support our military personnel. The Royal British Legion provide this support in spades,” he says.

“2018 marks the 100th anniversary of the end of the Great War and whilst talking to family members I discovered a tie to the Somme battlefield and death of my grandmother’s uncle Richard McArtie. He was killed by a German artillery shell whilst advancing across No Man’s Land. His name lies forever in memorial on the Ypres monument in France. I will be dedicating my efforts to him and fellow commandos lost in combat in Afghanistan - L/Cpl Matthew Ford, Cpl Danny Winters and Sgt ‘Darbs’ Derbyshire.”

Fellow team member Fraser Mowlem, an RAF avionics technician, has previously undertaken four tours of Afghanistan and is currently stationed in North Yorkshire.

He says: “When I was initially asked if I would row the Atlantic as part of a team, I was truly humbled, scared and also really rather excited! I couldn’t get the idea out of my head, so quickly agreed to join the team.

“I have always admired the work of the Royal British Legion and the support they give to armed force personnel past & present – 2018 also marks the 100th anniversary of the end of the Great War and so it seemed obvious to us that Row4Victory should be in support of the RBL.”

Royal Engineer Sapper Duncan Roy will be responsible for navigation and logistics during the challenge. Originally from North Yorkshire and now living in Devon, he says he discovered a love for rowing after suffering a career-changing injury in 2015 and taking up the sport as part of his rehabilitation. He says: “I feel so proud to be supporting The Royal British Legion having learnt first hand of its services and support.

“Crossing the Atlantic is never an easy undertaking, but people have been making the journey for hundreds of years. The very first crossings were made to discover and explore new lands. Today, most crossings are made by huge cargo ships exporting essential commodities across the ocean. But some daring people choose to cross the Atlantic to test the limit of their physical and mental strength; to achieve something unthinkable.”

The only non-military member of the team is Will Quarmby, a landscape designer who runs Quarmby’s Deli and Coffee House in Sherriff Hutton, North Yorkshire.

It was Will who came up with the idea of the group entering the race, partly as a result of his daughters enjoying a talk from the inspirational Yorkshire Rows ladies, four mums who managed to cross the Atlantic last year.

Will says: “Seeing an opportunity to inspire my children to challenge themselves and show them that with the right mind-set you can achieve anything, I decided to put a team together to take part in the toughest row in the world across the Atlantic.

“Having so many close friends in the armed forces who never fail to impress me with their willingness, enthusiasm and determination, they were the obvious first port of call! True to form, they were quick to offer their support, and within a few weeks we had the team you see today committed to the campaign.”

The team are looking for corporate and individual sponsorship. For more information, visit www.row4victory.com or email [email protected]