Rowing across the Atlantic to help Nepal schools

The crew with their boat as they train for the rowing challenge. Photo courtesy: ASHLEY JONES

The four crew members have completed military tours in combat zones, rowed the North Pacific, ran the Marathon De Sable and climbed mountains. Now, they are all set to take on their biggest adventure yet -- the Atlantic Rowing Race.

They are joining what has been dubbed the world’s toughest race to raise money to build schools in rural Nepal.

Calum Barclay, Ashley Jones, Nick Kempster and Jack Carter will be taking on the ocean rowing race the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge, which gets under way on 12 December from the Canary Islands to the West Indies, a distance of approximately 5,000km.

“Long before Covid-19 surfaced I took the decision to row the Atlantic with a friend. We soon found two others and in January 2019 registered for a race,” says Jones. “Rowing an ocean is something that has appealed greatly to me for a very long time. Fifteen years ago I signed up to row the Indian Ocean but sadly that journey did not materialise. This time it’s for real.”

The team has been planning for the race for two years and has over 100 hours of in-boat training for the annual race founded in 1997. Participants endure rowing in 30ft waves, 1,800km from shore day and night being self-sufficient on 28-foot boat for 35-40 days.

Each crew member will have a punishing shift pattern of 2-hours on 2-hours off with real possibility of extreme mental and physical exhaustion and eat re-hydrated food, sleep in tiny cabins in over 30 degrees heat, and toilet will be a bucket at best.On average a person loses 12kgs during the crossing.

The crew aim to raise $300,000 for The Human Practice Foundation (HPF) to help build schools to educate 1,300 children every single year. HPF, set up in 2014 has built 59 schools in Nepal and Kenya, helping educate 27,000 children.

“The UK branch of HPF has only recently opened and as with all other charities the current climate has adversely affected the ability to raise funds. But with this we are hoping to raise enough money to build two schools in the Taplejung region of North East Nepal,” says Jones. “Good thing is this part of the world is familiar to me as a former member of the Royal Gurkha Rifles.”

The team has already left from the UK to begin the race from La Gomerain the Canary Islands on 12 December.

Those interested can follow the team on their Facebook and Instagram (hpfatlantic) or visit its  website which also accepts donations. Followers can also download the app 'YB Races’ (accessible from 12 December) and by adding 'Talisker Whiskey Atlantic Challenge 2020' will get to see exactly where the crew and the other boats are.

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