Raging seas, strong winds, extreme temperatures, 3,000nautical miles; no, this isn’t the setting for a movie — it’s the TaliskerWhisky Atlantic Challenge, also dubbed the world’s toughest row, in whichparticipants embark on a physical and mental challenge across the mightyAtlantic to raise money for the charity of their choice. Beginning in SanSebastian in La Gomera, the Canary Islands, and ending in Nelson’s Dockyard,English Harbour, Antigua, the race has only seen a mere 500 people evercomplete the challenge, a number that will soon grow to include yachtie Dylan Jonesand his teammate Sam Weir, who comprise the team Oceanomads for the 2017/2018 challengethat kicks off December 12. Their goal? To not only win the race, but to breakthe 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 wildlifeencounters, the open ocean, and more on their own and at the mercy of MotherNature, but that’s exactly what drew them to the race in the first place. “Welove 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 personaltrainer. “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 orso people have ever completed it, we like to think that if as many as five hundredpeople can do it, then why can’t we?”
To break the world record, they’ll need to row at least 65nautical miles (120 kilometers) per day in their carbon fiber and Kevlar designboat, which is no bigger than a family car, with a relentless three hourson/three hours off rowing shift.
“As neither of us have a background in ocean rowing, we’relooking forward to learning all about it, adapting to the different style oftraining, and meeting new people we would have otherwise never known,” he adds.
Jones, who took a year off from yachting to prepare, andWeir, who works at Mt Woodgee and is one of Australia’s top ultra marathon runners, have been weight trainingto build their strength to handle the stress of the row as well as stretchingto help prevent injury through overtraining. They’re also slowly increasingtime on the rowing machines and will soon transition that into days and nightsrowing 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-WishFoundation for their charity was easy. “Thewishes that Make-A-Wish Foundation are granting for these children with lifethreatening illnesses are sometimes things that a lot of other peopleexperience and take for granted every day,” explains Jones. “We want to helpthem continue giving hope to these children and their families, as well asremind everyone who is lucky enough to have a healthy body and mind toappreciate the opportunities that gives them.”
The Make-A-WishFoundation’s goal to make adventurous dreams come alive certainly resonateswith the overall inspiration Oceanomads hopes to instill in others as theyprepare for and ultimately battle the sea.
“We hope that throughout our campaign we can encourageothers to find their own adventures, test their comfort zone, and appreciatetheir health and what they are capable of doing because of it,” says Jones.