Four friends are taking on the challenge to row 3,000 miles across the Atlantic
Between them, they have already climbed Mount Kilimanjaro, run a marathon in the Arctic circle, kayaked down the Zambezi and driven a Mototaxi across Peru. Now four friends are taking on their biggest challenge yet – to row 3,000 miles across the Atlantic.
Despite no previous rowing experience, Mark Gibson, Jon Lakin and brothers Steve and Dan Baker, who together form the ‘Nuts over the Atlantic’ team, are taking part in the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge this December.
To raise awareness of the challenge and generate support and sponsorship, Nuts over the Atlantic is embarking on a UK tour of 36 hour non-stop rows, calling in Bristol’s harbourside festival, Harbourfest, from Friday, 21 July, to Sunday, 23 July.
The foursome is taking on the challenge in aid of the Movember Foundation, a global charity committed to eliminating testicular and prostate cancer and helping raise awareness of mental health issues amongst men.
They will cross the Atlantic in a boat just nine meters long with two small compartments for sleeping and storage, which they will use for alternate two-hour sleep cycles.
Friends Mark, 29, Jon, 29, Dan, 29 and Steve, 26, decided to take on a challenge to raise money for a worthy cause but also to inspire others to believe they are capable of such amazing feats.
University of Bath graduate Mark, who now works at the Ministry of Defence, said: “I think a lot of people hear about challenges like this and just think, ‘Well there’s no way I could do that.’ But we are just four normal guys, none of us have done any rowing until now, so if we can do it, anyone can.”
They have set up a company By the Hundred, through which they hope to take on more challenges in the future to empower others to believe no challenge is impossible. Having joined a rowing club, the four men have been training hard on the water and in the gym for the past six months to build up the strength and muscle needed to survive the six-weeks at sea.
Jon, who works for Babcock, said: “The most important thing is making sure you put on enough muscle mass to sustain you for the crossing as it is likely you will lose a lot of weight on the challenge.”
Leaving in December once the Hurricane season has finished, Team Nuts will head west from San Sebastian in the Canary Islands off West Africa and finish in Nelson's Dockyard English Harbour in Antigua. Whilst the team is aiming to complete this crossing in forty days, the young men will need to be prepared for it taking more than sixty.
The team is likely to burn about 6,500 calories during 12 hours of rowing per day each – triple the usual recommended daily energy consumption. They will pack about 60kg of food onto the boat per person, with an additional 20 per cent contingency. All the equipment will take the average 350kg boat to more than 800kgs.
Having completed a sea survival course, the team members are also undergoing mental training to prepare themselves for the potential loneliness and pain they may encounter. They will be publishing their training plan and recording training workouts for all to see online.
Dan said: “We’re really keen for as many people as possible to come down and see us in Bristol – we’re even inviting people to take part in our event to give them a small taster of what we will be doing non-stop for six weeks.”
Anyone who goes down to meet the four rowers in the Harbour will have the chance to enter a prize draw to win an all-expenses paid stay in a Rex Resorts hotel in Antigua. The team is aiming to raise £100,000 to support the Movember Foundation.
“We have all been touched by cancer and other health issues, having friends diagnosed and losing loved ones,” said Steve a management consultant at BMT. The Movember Foundation, with its focus on prostate and testicular cancer and mental health, has done a huge amount to change the stigma surrounding men’s health.”
Having already gained support from Rex Resorts, David Lloyds Club, Neat Nutrition, Powertek Services, Fox Davidson, BMT & the Bristol Sport Foundation, the team is looking for further sponsorship from local businesses and organisations.
They have set up the 500 Club which offers an alternative way for individuals, companies and organisations to pledge their support. In exchange for £500, sponsors will get their company logo on the boat and the team website and they will be promoted via the team’s social channels. They will also be invited to the team’s send-off party and a talk and question and answer session about the challenge; why they did it and how they prepared. It is the team’s wish to build a community of companies that have supported them so they will also provide ‘500 Club’ stickers to their supporters.
For investments of more than £500 the team is able to offer additional experiences such as time on their boat and a nutritional talk supported by their sponsors. This greater investment will also result in increased PR exposure through additional coverage on their boat or rebranding the team to align with an individual company or organisation.
Anyone interested in sponsoring Nuts over the Atlantic can find out more by contacting the team on the following email firstname.lastname@example.org.
To help the team reach their charitable fundraising target of £100,000, donate here:uk.movember.com/donate/payment/team_id/2232792
With every member of Team Nuts having been directly or indirectly affected by the causes Movember stands for - testicular cancer, prostate cancer, mental health and suicide prevention - the charity was a natural choice.
Whilst Dan and Steve’s family have unfortunately been affected by both testicular and prostate cancer. Mark Gibson, the team captain, had himself undergone physical and mental health challenges through his teenage years. Always an active and very sporty youngster, Mark developed a severe case of scoliosis aged just 12 which within three years had become so pronounced he was forced to quit all physical activity and undergo two intensive operations on his spine.
The surgery forced Mark to take three months off school shortly before his GCSEs. He was unable to walk unassisted for several weeks and it would be another two years before he could start playing sport again.
Having run cross country and played tennis for the county, Mark found himself only able to sit up for a few hours every day. Unable to take part in all the sports and activities he had previously enjoyed, he also lost touch and drifted apart from many of his former friends which meant his self-esteem plummeted.
“It really knocked my confidence because it made it very difficult for me to join in with all the normal activities my friends were doing,” said Mark.
“As a teenage guy, you don’t want to admit to any kind of weakness so when something physically stops you being able to do what you want to do, it’s really frustrating and feels kind of demeaning. I had always been really sporty, that was a large part of who I was, and the back operations took all that away. It meant I didn’t see a lot of my friends anymore as they were doing things I just couldn’t join in with.
“I really struggled with self-esteem and sank into periods of real depression but thankfully had a very supportive family and some really loyal friends who helped me through it. It took me until I went to university before I was really able to wipe the slate clean and start to feel okay again.
“Movember is the first big charity I’ve been aware of that has really addressed the issues around men’s health and brought it into the public consciousness. With this trans-Atlantic row, I want to prove to other men who may have suffered physical or mental health challenges that they are capable of taking on amazing challenges. If I can do it, they can.”
For more information visit: www.nutsovertheatlantic.co.uk