On the 13th December Five Royal Navy Submariners will set off on an epic 3,000 mile rowing adventure, competing in the ‘World’s Toughest Row – Atlantic’ event with 37 other teams from 15 countries.
The HMS Oardacious team will attempt to row their Rannoch RX45 Ocean Rowing Boat named ‘Captain Jim’ from La Gomera in the Canary Islands to Antigua in the Caribbean, rowing a continuous cycle of roughly 2.5 hours on, followed by 1.5 hours rest, round the clock for somewhere between 35 and 45 days – while 3 row the other 2 sleep in the tiny cabins at each end of the boat.
The boat, ‘Captain Jim’ is self sufficient apart from food, with solar panels providing the power to two batteries which supply all the essential equipment including the all-important watermaker – a mini reverse osmosis plant which makes fresh water from seawater.
The crew expect to battle monstrous seas (waves upto 40ft high), contrary winds, the blazing sun, sleep deprivation and sores in their quest, showcasing the silent service on a global stage.
The HMS Oardacious campaign raises funds for mental health, wellbeing and resilience projects in the submarine community, as well as conducting STEM and outreach events across the country. Previous HMS Oardacious teams competed in the event in 2019 and 2022, last year setting a marker of 35 days 17 hours and 19 minutes for this year’s team to beat (see photos attached from 2019 and 2022)
The crew consist of:
- Matt Main (Skipper), 39, a Marine Engineer Officer originally from mid-Sussex, now lives just outside Bristol with his wife and three boys. An adventurous family they love to pack up their campervan for trips to mountains and coasts around Europe.
- Dan Seager, 38, is also a Marine Engineer Officer. He grew up in Chester and now lives in Bristol with his wife and two young children. Dan joined Oardacious to support the mental health campaign but at 6’4” was rapidly recruited into the rowing too, a new sport for him although he has always been keen for any adventure in any weather.
- Rob Clarke, 37, is a Medical Services Officer from Fareham in Hampshire who now lives North of Glasgow with his wife and 2 young girls. An all-round sportsman, Rob has represented the Royal Navy at downhill skiing, Squash and mountain biking.
- Ian Allen, 39, a nuclear reactor operator hails from Sevenoaks, Kent but now lives near Southampton with partner and 3 year old girl. Ian is the experienced ocean rower of the team, holding records for rowing the Indian Ocean in 2009.
- Mike Forrester MBE, 40 is from Edinburgh but now lives near HMNB Clyde with his wife and two boys. Picking up rowing for the first time in March, Mike is a keen runner who will also be battling seasickness throughout!
The 5 team members are scattered around the country for both home and work so have mostly trained independently apart from 4 training expeditions together, including laps round the Isle of Wight and the Isle of Skye. The preparation period in La Gomera has thus been a valuable opportunity to understand what makes each other tick prior to getting cooped up in a tiny boat together for weeks, they have also been drawn together in overcoming adversity with damage to the boat requiring 11th hour repair in Tenerife!
Skipper Matt said “the boat is now packed and launched, we’ve done a test row to check all the systems have survived shipping and the team are raring to go. There’s a bit of nervousness as we gaze out into the big ocean where we’re headed but mostly excitement at finally getting underway after the months of meticulous preparation. It is an honour to be representing the Royal Navy and submarine service and we aim to do our supporters, sponsors and patrons proud”.
You can follow the teams progress via their social media channel: @hmsoardacious and www.hmsoardacious.com
To support the team you can also donate: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/hmsordacious2023
Every penny raised will help support submariners and their families with Mental Health and wellbeing initiatives.
You can track the team on the YB Tracker app once the race starts, and follow them on social media for regular updates.