Two pals will be attempting to row across the Atlantic next year – despite neither of them having rowed before.
Andy Purvis and Stuart Hatcher, both from Maidstone, are taking on the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Rowing Challenge, which has been named "the world’s toughest row".
The pair tell KentOnline how the idea came about
Andy said: "I was fortunate enough to sell my business in November 2019. The first lockdown in summer I was able to relax and spend time with my family.
"During winter 2020, I suddenly was left with a mediocre life with nothing to do or see. So I started looking for something better and began researching some extreme challenges.
"After a while I found rowing the Atlantic, and there was only one idiot I knew that would say an instant ‘yes’ to that."
Stuart, a director of a clinical research company, added: "I didn’t really think about it – I have this philosophy in life, that if someone asks me to get involved in something I just say ‘yes’. Life is too short not to.
"After having a quick discussion about it together, we contacted the organisers and within 48 hours we had got ourselves a position in the December 2023 race."
The pair don't like to shy away from a challenge – both are keen skiers and 58-year-old Andy has skydived, completed six marathons and also is a fully fledged scuba diver.
Despite having completed a long list of extreme escapades, neither have rowed before, with Andy remarking: "Well, how hard can it be?"
But The Talisker Whisky Atlantic Rowing Challenge is definitely not for the faint-hearted.
Up to 30 teams from around the world take part, varying from a five-man boat all the way down to a solo rower.
Crews will have to travel more than 3,000 miles west from San Sebastian in La Gomera, one of the Canary Islands, to Nelson’s Dockyard on Antigua in the Caribbean.
"Once you leave the harbour you are pretty much on your own," Andy explained. "It’s rare that you will see another boat."
"Some of the five-man teams probably take 35-40 days. Some take up to 70-90 days to finish the race.
"The organisers provide a couple of safety boats which are out circling around.
"They make contact via radio every day to check if everything is alright. They can be up to 48 hours away from wherever you are on your boat."
Stuart added: "There will be days where it's just us and the ocean, and that’s all we can see."
In 2006, Olympic rower James Cracknell and television presenter Ben Fogle completed the extreme endurance race in 49 days, 19 hours, 8 minutes, which was televised in the BBC programme 'Through Hell and High Water'.
Stuart commented: "It's the fact that we can do something that not many people have done.
"More have climbed Mount Everest than rowed the Atlantic – so that’s a bit of a wow factor for us in itself.
"Just to be in the middle of the ocean, the two of you in a boat, that’s awe-inspiring for me."
Sleep deprivation, hallucinations, hunger and waves up to 20ft high are just some of the difficulties the pair will face.
However, they will also experience sighting incredible marine life, witnessing the breaking of a new day and incredible sun sets that cannot be viewed from land.
Stuart said: "It is a bit eat, sleep, row repeat. There will be set jobs that we need to do every day – making water, preparing food.
"Every couple of days Andy will go in the water to clean the bottom of the boat, as small creatures will start to cling to the side and slow us down."
The boat the pair aims to spend two months in, is just over 23ft long, and nearly 6ft wide.
There are two cabins at the front and rear, which the pair say are where you sleep, relax and "hide if the weather is bad".
Power for the boat is generated from solar panels and Andy mentions that they have their own water-making machine on board.
He said: "We can take the seawater and turn it into 11-12 litres of fresh water per day."
Due to not being experienced rowers, the pair have devised an intense training course before they set off on December 12 next year.
In August, they have their first ever lesson on their ocean boat and plan on taking it out a couple of days a week in Whitstable and Ramsgate.
"We have a week planned in Plymouth, where we will learn navigation and life safety skills," Andy added.
"Also we will have to do five days at sea, so we get used to rowing at night. It's mostly learning the techniques, style and getting used to working together."
But it is not only the constant rowing that they will have to endure - the pair emphasises that they are assembling a team to help them with the wellness aspect of the challenge.
Andy said: "We appreciate that the rowing will be tough, but actually the mental side of it will be more enduring and pressing at times.
"A lot of people suffer from hallucinations as well at night, so that's something we will have to tackle."
In August, they have scheduled a 16-week course with a mindfulness coach, who will also be on-call once the pair start the race.
Stuart added: "There will be times on the boat when you can’t tell the difference between the sky and the sea.
"That can be quite lonely when your fellow rower is sleeping. You also get hit a lot in the face by flying fish, we have been told!"
As well as spending both Christmas Day and New Year's Eve out at sea, Stuart will also be celebrating his 50th Birthday too.
He said: "Our families are really supportive and on board with it…they also think we are crackers and mad. We couldn’t do it without them."
The pair will be raising money for three charities: Dementia UK, Sporting Memories and Kent charity Bright Shadow.