Wrekin Rowers are ready to go

After preparing to row across the Atlantic for more than two years, the Wrekin Rowers are ready for the off as they leave Shropshire for the Canary Islands this coming Monday.

Martin Skehan, Stuart Shepherd, Gary Richards nd Stuart Richards – The Wrekin Rowers
Martin Skehan, Stuart Shepherd, Gary Richards nd Stuart Richards – The Wrekin Rowers

The team of four rowers – Stuart Shepherd, Martin Skehan and brothers Stuart and Gary Richards – will be the oldest team taking part in this year's Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge that will take them from San Sebastian in the Canary Islands to English Harbour in Antigua some 3,000 miles west.

All four are ready to set off now, and after a few days preparation in the Canary Islands, they will hit the water on December 12.

Stuart Shepherd said: "I think we are just eager to get going now. All the preparation is complete, the training has been as good as we could get, so I think now we've just got a lull while we get over to the Canary Islands.

"We are excited but nervous. I think a few of us are having troubled sleep, waking up in the night thinking about what is to come."

The gruelling row will test the four men in ways that they will not be used to. Sleep deprivation, salt water sores, these are par for the course in the toughest test of physical and mental endurance.

Stuart added: "The pattern on the boat is that we row for two hours and then rest for two hours. So in any 24 hour period you've got six little periods to get all your chores done on the boat, eat and sleep.

"The best way to sleep is by powernapping. Either in 22-minute or 44-minute bursts. That way you've got the best chance of not sleeping too deeply and not waking up tired."

Stuart and the crew are aiming to raise £100k for the RNIB, as one of the crew, Stuart Richards is partially sighted. Their total currently stands at £70k.

The team is aiming to make the trip in anything under 50 days.

Stuart added: "Another Shropshire team called the Atlantic Mavericks did it in 50 days and a few hours, so we are just aiming to get inside that time if we can.

"We know that the first seven days will be appalling. We will be tired, and we know there will be bad days. But apparently after about a week your body gets used to the pattern and, I won't say it becomes comfortable, but it becomes more normal.

"Just imagine what it will be like, out in the middle of the Atlantic at night, a full moon and nothing around you except the sound of the oars."

The Wrekin Rowers will be aiming to give updates when they can, but their progress can also be tracked through an app which you can download here.

To donate to their cause, click here.

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