Robert and Duncan are the only Scotland based competitors in the bi-annual rowing race across the Atlantic: the world's toughest rowing race. 3000 miles across open water, rowing 2 hours on, 2 hours off 24 hours a day for between 40-90 days and nights depending on the conditions.
Both men are fiercely competitive athletes in their own time and personal trainers in the city of Aberdeen, Scotland. They have driven themselves to win numerous medals over the last decade in competitive rowing and are 3 time reigning Indoor Scottish Champions for the team 2k event. Robert and Duncan are determined to not only cross the Atlantic and be the first pair to the other side but, if conditions are good, to set a new course record in the process. They have been training hard since the start of 2014 and will reach the highest levels of fitness in their lives before setting off in December, 2015. Crossing the atlantic is a dream realised - rowing is what they do and success is the only option.
The race will take place in December 2015 and is a competition to see who can row between the Island of La Gomera in the Canary Islands to the Island of Antigue in the Carribean. A span of Atlantic Ocean nearly 3000 miles across. The conditions dictate how long it will take the pair - being such a small vessel in a vast ocean, they are at the mercy of any winds and currents they cross. A quick crossing is between 40-50 days and nights of rowing around the clock. If the conditions are poor all the way across, Robert and Duncan could find themselves rowing 2 hours on, 2 hours off for up to 90 days and nights or until their food runs out.
If the conditions weren't enough of a challenge the pair will face the danger of waters inhabited by some of the largest marine animals and predators including whales and sharks. They will be constantly losing weight from the first day they set off, burning approximately 10,000-12,000 calories every day and living only on dehydrated rations to keep their energy up. It is not surprising that more people have been into space than have made it all the way across. Usually around half of the vessels that set off do not make it due to injury, boat damage or simply not having the strength to continue.
The vessel they will be using is a hand built ocean rowing boat. It is just 7m long and slightly less than 2m wide. The rowing area is completely open, exposing the rowers to the elements for the duration of the trip. They have a small forward cabin that they will keep equipment and supplies in and a larger rear cabin which is just long enough for one of them to lie completely flat in. This rear cabin will be the living quarters and will allow one man to rest and sleep while the other is rowing. In the event of a storm or if conditions prove too dangerous for someone to be out on deck then the two 6 foot 4 men must both squeeze into this rear cabin to try and ride out the waves. It is common for boats to be flipped in conditions such as these, but the design of the hulls is such that they self-right as long as all the water-tight hatches are properly closed. In times like these, Robert and Duncan are at the mercy of the weather and could very well be carried back the way they came if they are unlucky, making their journey even longer.
The boat is equipped with a GPS and VHF radio and is a fully licensed sea vessel. Robert and Duncan are in the process of becoming RYA qualified skippers in order to be certified as fit to operate such equipment effectively as well as navigate their way to the correct island on the other side. They have already been trained to use their radio to make calls and send distress signals. They have also attained certificates in how to survive at sea including how to arm, inflate and board a life-raft and how to be found in case they have to abandon ship.
At the same time, Robert and Duncan have each selected a charity to which they hope to give back a substantial sum of money (£100,000 split between each). These charities are Great Ormond Street Children's Hospital in London and the Children's Hospital in Aberdeen - now supported by the ARCHIE foundation.
Robert has chosen the ARCHIE foundation as he spent much of his childhood in Aberdeen Royal Infirmary suffering from various recurring respiratory problems including pneumonia, whooping cough and asthma. With the support and help from the hospital he has managed to get himself to the stage where his lungs can power him and his team mate over an ocean and therefore wants to raise this immense amount of money over the next year to help ARCHIE continue supporting sick children and their families for the future.
Duncan has chosen Great Ormond Street Hospital as his charity. For most of his childhood until the age of 13 Duncan suffered from epilepsy and amnesia due to brain damage caused at birth. For a few years he was also partially paralysed, with only limited control of his right side. As he grew up and his brain developed and with the help and care he received at the hospital, the paralysis was overcome and the epilepsy faded. His amnesia will be present all his life but now rarely bothers him. In the early years it was not anticipated that Duncan would pass any exams at any level nor achieve independence. To date however he has attained a full compliment of high school certificates, a degree and is self employed. The Atlantic is his next challenge and like the others, it will be overcome. Only this time the challenge will allow him to give back to the hospital that got him this far.
Money received will initially go towards funding the event - the boat, equipment, supplies, training and transportation for rowers and vessel to the start line in the Canary Islands. All equipment will eventually be sold once the race is over and the target of £100,000 has been reached. Money from the sale of the vessel and contents will make its way back into the charity pot. Please note that as we cannot predict the outcome of the race, nor the condition of our boat and contents if we complete it, we cannot guarantee how much money will be made from the sale.
Robert and Duncan are looking for your sponsorship to compete in this life changing undertaking and to allow them to raise a significant amount of money in the process for two very worthy and personal charities. They have so far purchased a vessel and some basic equipment with their own money and continue to raise funds in Aberdeen by attending and holding events. But the pair really need a significant financial leg up now to help them push on with their campaign. The entry fee for such a race to cover support vessels, port closures at either end and race control is over 20,000 euros.