Intrepid fund-raisers who have embarked on an epic 1,500 mile rowing challenge around Britain stopped off in Northumberland yesterday, before setting off on the final leg of their journey.
The team of four, which includes skipper Wim Stevenson, from Alnwick, is more than a month into the gruelling journey, in aid of the Natalie Kate Moss Trust, set up in honour of their dear friend who died aged 26 of a brain haemorrhage.
The route is known as the World’s Toughest Rowing Challenge, and more people have landed on the moon than completed it.
The hardy group, known as The Rough Ready Row crew, has had to tackle the most dangerous and fast turning tides on the planet, cross the world’s busiest sea lanes, avoid heavy shipping and brave adverse weather conditions.
And on Monday, the quartet stopped off at Amble to collect more water and make essential repairs to their boat, The Pig, before heading off down the east coast of England.
After leaving the Friendliest Port, the team had just over 350 miles to go and expects to reach the finish point – London’s Tower Bridge – within the next week.
The crew, which includes Andrew Mason, 27, from Barnard Castle; Fred Moore, 25, from Richmond, North Yorkshire; and Kyle Booysens, 25, from York, is looking forward to completing the challenge and can’t wait to taste a flat-white coffee, watch Game of Thrones and have the freedom to walk around.
Design and sales manager Wim, 28, said: “There are times when it has been fraught, but the good times make it worthwhile and really keep us going mentally.
“The support we have received has been overwhelming and has really helped to raise the profile of the Trust but of course more can be done.
“We hope that through this challenge we can spread the word about the Natalie Kate Moss Trust’s fantastic work.”
The crew set off from Tower Bridge on June 3. They had an excellent start, but after nine days disaster struck when their water maker failed. With only enough fresh water to last less than two days they were forced inland and came into Milford Haven on Sunday, June 12.
After repair attempts failed, the lads resolved to resume their row and have chosen to carry 120 litres of fresh water on their boat. This extra weight has challenged them even more as they row two-on-two-off, virtually non-stop. It also meant they had to abandon their Guinness World Record attempt – to complete the challenge in less than 26 days, nine hours, nine minutes and four seconds.
Wim said: “The setbacks have definitely been low points, but we’ve been able to work through them together and turn them into positives.
“We are constantly comparing our time to the world record, but what with the challenges we had to overcome it’s now about making our own history.”
The crew has received support from Alex Gregory MBE, Olympic Gold medallist from the London 2012 Olympic Games and five times World Rowing Champion.
He said: “The crew has pushed beyond what is a reasonable expectation of four young men. What these guys are doing is so physically and mentally tough, they deserve all the support they can get.”
To donate to the cause, click here, and follow their progress on Twitter @RoughReadyRow