Two young men will be away from their families this Christmas, as they row across the Atlantic, following in the footsteps of Fogle and Cracknell, as part of a two-person 50-day non-stop challenge crossing 3,000 nautical miles and burning 10,000 calories a day each in bid to raise money for Breast Cancer Care.
The challenge is described as the ‘world’s toughest endurance race’ and will kick off on Monday 2 December.
Childhood friends Jamie Sparks from London and Luke Birch from Lincolnshire, both 21, are attempting to break the World Record for the youngest team ever to row the Atlantic and raise £100,000 for Breast Cancer Care.
Jamie and Luke have been training since summer 2012. Luke is from London, lives in Lincolnshire and is currently studying at Edinburgh University. He is no stranger to pushing himself to the limit: in 2010 he swam across the English Channel in 14 hours and 45 minutes as a solo swimmer (at the time only 50 people aged 18 and under had completed the swim). Jamie is studying at Bristol University and is from Islington, London. He played rugby for Middlesex (U18s and U20s) and cycled 1500 miles from Gibraltar to London last summer.
Jamie Sparks, who went to Luke with the idea more than a year ago, says, “we wanted a real adventure, and what bigger adventure could there be than rowing the 3000 nautical miles of the Atlantic Ocean – a distance longer than the width of Australia – with only each other to turn to for help? And when Luke’s mum was diagnosed with breast cancer we were even more motivated and to use the challenge to raise funds and awareness for Breast Cancer Care.”
Luke Birch says, “I lost my grandmother to breast cancer a few years ago and last year my mother was diagnosed with the disease, both had the identical aggressive HER2 type. My mum went through three months of chemotherapy and this February had a double mastectomy. It’s been a scary time and I have a younger sister too who is worried about the genetics of it all. My mum received some fantastic care and support throughout her treatment so if my big Atlantic row with my best mate, Jamie can help ensure others get the same kind of care as my mother then it will be worth it.”
As part of their preparations, Jamie and Luke – apart from rowing hundreds of practice miles on their boat and rowing machines - have had to gain an RYA Yachtmaster Ocean Theory certificate, a First Aid certificate and an RYA Basic Sea Survival course completion certificate. During the race, they will not be allowed any outside assistance and Luke and Jamie will have to survive with onboard supplies, making up their dehydrated food with water produced by a solar powered desalinator.
Together Jamie and Luke could face 50-foot waves, three-day storms, and mental and bodily breakdown. However, none of this has put them off, and the pair are set to leave from La Gomera in the Canary Islands on the 2nd of December, and become the youngest pair ever to row the Atlantic.
Visit the 2boysinaboat YouTube for video logs of Jamie & Luke’s training: