In 2019 I signed up to be part of the team aiming to be the first to row the Northwest Passage, the 2,000 mile Arctic route, between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, in a single season
For centuries explorers have sought a way through the arctic passage as a trade route between Europe and Asia. The most infamous attempt was Sir John Franklin's expedition, in which sadly the crew of British 2 naval ships were lost in the attempt.
In Summer 2021 a team of 15 of us will attempt to traverse the Passage in 3 boats, starting from Baffin Island and arriving in Alaska around 8 weeks later. Frozen for most of the year, it is the changing climate that is giving us the opportunity to be the first to row the route but we will still face freezing temperatures, high winds, icebergs, and the region’s top predators. No one has successfully rowed the Northwest passage. This will be the Ultimate Ocean Row. We will be the first.
Our team is led by 5 times ocean rowing world record holder Leven Brown, based in Jedburgh, and whilst most of the 15 crew are based in the UK we have rowers from the USA, South Africa, and Hong Kong on board.
The expedition boats were designed and developed by Ruairi Grimes of Aston Martin and Leven Brown. The prototype has been manufactured, is going through sea trials and will be rowed across the Atlantic in 2020. The expedition boats are 9m in length, self-righting, insulated, fast and functional, equipped with the latest navigation and communication equipment.
Ocean rowing isn’t just physically hard, it's every bit a mental and emotional challenge. We want to show the world how the arctic looks today and give them a sense of the challenge we will be undertaking. So, we will be live streaming from the arctic providing some amazing footage of our journey through one of the world's harshest but most beautiful environments.
We will also produce three 40-minute films, documenting the expedition, including first-hand accounts of the preparation, the challenges the team face, the environment, and wildlife encountered, with broadcasting aimed at the BBC, Discovery Channel, and Netflix.
We are aiming at having a zero environmental impact on the environment and will adopt an unbiased approach to documenting the facts about the Arctic environment and climate.
Ocean rowing has always attracted an amazing level of media interest, a good example being the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge, and our unique expedition, being a world first, will capture the imagination.
Our expedition is not just an opportunity for businesses to reinforce their environmental credentials but is an opportunity to generate awareness to the challenge we all face and what role business can play in protecting the world for future generations and we are looking for partners to join us on our journey.
If you would like to be a partner of the Northwest Passage 2021 team the contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org to hear more.
In 2017 I decided to lead a team take part in the 2018 Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge, a 3,000-mile row across the Atlantic ocean from La Gomera in the Canary Islands to Antigua.
On 23rd January 2019, Team Tyne Innovation, which included Claire Hughes, Alan Huntly, Steve Sidaway, and myself, completed the challenge, in a world record time for a mixed team of four of 42 days, 10 hours and 26 minutes, beating the old record by 14 days.
You can find all about the challenge and how we went about achieving our dream on the Team Tyne Innovation website.
As with such adventures, it wouldn't have been possible without sponsors, and we were lucky to have a great team supporting us led by Womble Bond Dickinson, Deloitte, Newcastle College, Brewin Dolphin, HSBC, Mammoth, Jotron and Satcom Global.
Through these partnerships, we were able to showcase their products and services, demonstrate the North East's innovative spirit, increase their brand awareness, and enhance their reputation.
It also wouldn't have been possible with our family and friends who did so much and contributed in so many ways to our journey.
At the conclusion of the project, we were able to donate £43,350 to some great charities, Daft as a Brush Cancer Patient Care, the Stroke Association, and St Oswald’s Hospice.
I think the three years preparing for the challenge and the row itself has shown that with a bit of determination and perseverance it’s amazing what you can do.