Rowing the Atlantic Ocean - Row4Victory

Date: Thursday August 8, 2019 at 2:40pm

Since the last BFRS update of FORCE ATLANTIC, The British Army’s first official ocean rowing crew, the team have made great strides towards setting themselves up for success in the 2019 Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge.  In April, the fearless four, took to the water for their first taste of rowing on the open sea.  Manning their Rannoch R45 ocean rowing boat for the first time, the crew set about a day’s sustained rowing in the estuary of the River Crouch and into the South of the North Sea.  This initial training was conducted under the guidance of an experienced ocean rower who works with the boat builder Rannoch, however no amount of advice could account for the shock of the first impact with the wind of the open sea!  When rowing against the wind, the 9m long, 1.5m high boat acts as a sail, more than doubling the effort required to maintain the desired average speed of 3 knots. However, when rowing with the wind…what a difference a little help makes!  As a crew, FORCE ATLANTIC were able to maintain upwards of 8 knots, which they have been assured is a record for any ocean rowers on the Crouch!


Physical development aside, which will ramp up when the crew take on their boat full time in July, the team have been required to look inwards.  In developing the essential component of cohesion within the team, FORCE ATLANTIC have made a concerted effort to break down the barriers of rank and age to speak to each other openly, and as peers.  With an age range of +30 years, ranks spanning from Lieutenant Colonel to Captains and a Private soldier, undertaking the project will reflect a leadership challenge for the Skipper, Lt Col Rich Hall MBE YORKS, equal to the prospect of crossing the ocean itself.  On the subject, he said, “Figuring out both individual and team goals has been an important step in this campaign; a team at cross-purposes lacks cohesion and cracks under pressure.  We have been brutally honest with each other, candid about our personal motivations, and open with our fears and concerns – speaking always as peers and crewmates.  The result has been unity, and mutual respect.”


Contributing to the crew ethos, FORCE ATLANTIC have been getting out and about together as much as possible with several ‘Pop-Up’ rows across Yorkshire.  Featuring beauty spots of the largest county in the UK, the crew have been springing up, meeting the public, spreading word of their campaign and the opportunities available to everyone and anyone in the Army.  RHS Harlow Carr, Almscliffe Cragg, Ripley Castle, Newby Hall and Castle Howard to name just a few of the locations the team have appeared at.  They have even entertained the England football manager Gareth Southgate who was fascinated with the leadership and team development part of the campaign – keep an eye on their social media to see if they may ‘pop-up’ near you!


Thankfully, fundraising efforts have been flourishing lately with the crew enjoying the most superb support from both those in the Army and many generous private businesses outside. Last month FORCE ATLANTIC held a fundraising dinner at their home camp at the Army Foundation College, Harrogate.  Attending were some special guests and sponsors including broadcaster, author and former RAF Prisoner of War John Nichol, Army Sergeant Major Gavin Patton, author, broadcaster and ex-SAS soldier Phil Campion, actor Anthony Cotton, local MP Andrew Jones, five-time ocean rowing world record holder Ian Couch, Invictus Games captain and author David Wiseman and Soldiers’ Charity Ambassador and wounded serviceman Andy Reid MBE to name just a few.  The event raised a whopping £12,000 for The Army Benevolent Fund, The Soldiers’ Charity.  The team offer a huge thank you to all those who helped to contribute to a successful evening and continue to support the campaign.  And naturally urge all readers to visit them at to find out how they to can be involved in following and supporting their journey across the Atlantic Ocean. #ForceAtlantic.


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