Raging seas, strong winds, extreme temperatures, 3,000
nautical miles; no, this isn’t the setting for a movie — it’s the Talisker
Whisky Atlantic Challenge, also dubbed the world’s toughest row, in which
participants embark on a physical and mental challenge across the mighty
Atlantic to raise money for the charity of their choice. Beginning in San
Sebastian in La Gomera, the Canary Islands, and ending in Nelson’s Dockyard,
English Harbour, Antigua, the race has only seen a mere 500 people ever
complete the challenge, a number that will soon grow to include yachtie Dylan Jones
and his teammate Sam Weir, who comprise the team Oceanomads for the 2017/2018 challenge
that kicks off December 12. Their goal? To not only win the race, but to break
the world record for the fastest pairs crossing — taking 39 days to complete it
— while raising AUD$100,000 for the Make-A-Wish Australia Foundation.
They’ll be enduring sleep deprivation, the potential for wildlife
encounters, the open ocean, and more on their own and at the mercy of Mother
Nature, but that’s exactly what drew them to the race in the first place. “We
love the challenge and adventure,” says Jones, who previously worked on M/Y Lady M II and most recently on M/Y SEANNA as a deckhand and personal
trainer. “I suppose we look at a challenge like this in a different perspective,
and instead of letting it intimidate us by thinking of how only five hundred or
so people have ever completed it, we like to think that if as many as five hundred
people can do it, then why can’t we?”
To break the world record, they’ll need to row at least 65
nautical miles (120 kilometers) per day in their carbon fiber and Kevlar design
boat, which is no bigger than a family car, with a relentless three hours
on/three hours off rowing shift.
“As neither of us have a background in ocean rowing, we’re
looking forward to learning all about it, adapting to the different style of
training, and meeting new people we would have otherwise never known,” he adds.
Jones, who took a year off from yachting to prepare, and
Weir, who works at Mt Woodgee and is one of Australia’s top ultra marathon runners, have been weight training
to build their strength to handle the stress of the row as well as stretching
to help prevent injury through overtraining. They’re also slowly increasing
time on the rowing machines and will soon transition that into days and nights
rowing at sea once their boat is ready in January. They’re especially grateful to their sponsors Quay Crew and AquaLuma, who’ve helped make their huge amount of work and preparation for the row possible.
While their training proves tough, choosing the Make-A-Wish
Foundation for their charity was easy. “The
wishes that Make-A-Wish Foundation are granting for these children with life
threatening illnesses are sometimes things that a lot of other people
experience and take for granted every day,” explains Jones. “We want to help
them continue giving hope to these children and their families, as well as
remind everyone who is lucky enough to have a healthy body and mind to
appreciate the opportunities that gives them.”
Foundation’s goal to make adventurous dreams come alive certainly resonates
with the overall inspiration Oceanomads hopes to instill in others as they
prepare for and ultimately battle the sea.
“We hope that throughout our campaign we can encourage
others to find their own adventures, test their comfort zone, and appreciate
their health and what they are capable of doing because of it,” says Jones.
To donate, head to their GoFundMe page and visit http://www.oceanomads.com/ for more