Former And Serving Military Personnel Get Ready For 'World's Toughest Row'

The Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge 2019 starts in the Canary Islands on Thursday.

Former and serving military personnel are putting in their final preparations ahead of rowing 3,000 miles across the Atlantic Ocean. 

More than 30 teams are taking part in the race which gets underway from La Gomera in the Canary Islands on Thursday.  

Not only are the teams hoping to conquer the Atlantic, but they also aim to break new records.

Private Kian Helm, Duke of Lancaster's Regiment and part of the Force Atlantic team, is hoping to become the fastest teenager to complete the challenge.

"Everyone in my family's been really proud about it so it's been good having their backing as well," he said. 

La Gomera.
The starting point - La Gomera in the Canary Islands.

The race is considered the world's toughest row and will put the competitors to the test, both mentally and physically.

Each rower will consume 10 litres of water and burn 5,000 calories per day - facing 40 foot waves, isolation and potential seasickness. 

"My biggest fear is the capsize, in bad waves - how we're going to deal with that, how we're going to react to it," said Atlantic Guardsmen rower, Colour Sergeant Colin Corfield from 1st Battalion The Scots Guards.

"We're not going to know until it happens, that's probably my biggest fear." 

Teammate Captain John Ford said their military experiences will help them during the race.

"Being an infantry soldier, we train hard, fight easy," he said.

"We've come across many situations and countries and conditions that have been pretty arduous - mentally and physically - so that'll stand us in very good stead for the physical and mental challenges at sea."

Private Kian Helm (centre) is hoping to become the fastest teenager to complete the challenge.

Meanwhile, Steve Hughes of the Ancient Mariners outlined some of the physical problems he and his fellow rowers can expect: "Blistering of the hands, blistering of the other end, salt sores, sleep deprivation - it's an extremely difficult challenge."

Lieutenant Hugo Mitchell-Heggs, a Marine Engineering Officer and part of the HMS Oardacious team, said the ability to remain light-hearted will be key in the race.

"Of course there's the humour side of it - you should be able to laugh at every scenario," said Lieutenant Mitchell-Heggs.

"No matter how bad it gets, you should always find the humour in everything so that'll lend itself really well to the challenge ahead."

The record time to complete the race is 29 days and 15 hours, although it could take around seven weeks or more.

The competitors will set sail for Antigua on Thursday morning.