CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – It is called the world’s toughest row, and after doing this story, it is impossible to make an argument against that statement.
Two guys – one boat. Check that, one “small” boat, and four oars. Team dreamboats in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean.
“It’s quite a big undertaking, just to race, to find someone who is mad enough to do it with you.”
Charlie Layton found someone alright.
“I always wanted to do it.”
Ben Towill, these two in this boat, a rowboat, on the adventure of a lifetime.
“It’s known as the world’s toughest race, so it’s not for the faint-hearted.”
Truer words were never spoken. This row is the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge, a 3,000-mile row from the Canary Islands to Antigua.
Just two guys rowing this 25-foot boat, named Polly Ann, after their grandmothers, by themselves and with no motor.
“Unsupported and unaided. We do have contact with the race organizers for a daily safety check-in but there’s no other vessels out there.”
So, let’s rewind to see how this all came about. Towill, the owner of Basic Projects and Layton, the head chef at Basic Kitchen in Charleston.
“We sat down, I said where do you see yourself in two years, in five years, and he said rowing the Atlantic by the time I’m 30. So we stopped the meeting, I said this was fantastic news.”
So, two guys who like to row, and at the time, little to no experience, getting into good enough shape mentally and physically for such a grueling adventure is not easy.
The two friends continue to train for this race, which is held in December. They will row 12 hours a day, and rest and take care of their boat for the other 12. Not easy, and not cheap.
“Not a small undertaking. It’s about $230K to get to the start line with all the equipment we need and to get prepared.”
“People ask why are you doing this? One, because it’s a great adventure but we’re raising money for the Green Heart Project.”
The Green Heart Project, a story we highlighted a few months ago, creates equal access to farm fresh foods and empowers the next generation with healthy habits.
“We’re super passionate about what they do, teaching young kids all about healthy eating, all about where food comes from, how it affects us, how it affects our planet.”
Two friends… doing something not many have done before. And to the victors go the spoils. “The winner, I think you get a bottle of scotch and a certificate. So, we’re not in it for the money.”
Each team will row in excess of 1.5 million oar strokes during a race. Waves can measure up to 20 feet high. And rowers can burn about 5,000 calories per day.
The believe it will take about 50 days to complete.