Round-the-world cyclist takes to the sea for Atlantic row

Mark Beaumont swaps pedals for oars in crew's bid to cross ocean to Barbados in under 30 days

Simon Rice@simonrice,Jonathan Brown
Saturday 31 December 2011 01:00
The crew of the 'Sara G', with Mark Beaumont, top right
The crew of the 'Sara G', with Mark Beaumont, top right

A British cyclist who smashed the round-the-world cycling record three years ago is aiming to set a new first – this time on the water.

Mark Beaumont will be part of a crew of six rowers hoping to complete an Atlantic crossing in less than 30 days – a feat which has been described as the four-minute mile of ocean rowing.

Departing from Trafaya in Morocco as early as Monday, the team will row for two hours on and two hours off, around the clock, in a bid to shave at least three days off the current record.

The gruelling shift pattern means that none will sleep for more than 75 minutes at a time while simultaneously burning up to 11,000 calories a day – nearly twice as many as they can consume in a 24-hour period.

They expect to arrive in Barbados three stone lighter after completing the equivalent of five Channel crossings every day at an average speed of 3.9 knots.

Mr Beaumont, 29, who will be blogging exclusively for The Independent during the Atlantic Odyssey, said his exploits on two wheels could only partly prepare him for the rigours of the marathon row.

"The Atlantic world record I reckon is going to be the toughest physical challenge I've ever taken on," he said. "It's a brutal mental and physical routine which I've never done anything like."

In 2008 he cycled round the world, shaving 81 days off the previous record. Two years later he biked from Alaska to the southern tip of Argentina. In August he returned from a "warm-up" 450-mile row across the Arctic.

The 36ft Sara G is skippered by Matt Craughwell, who has rowed the Atlantic twice before – in 2010 and again earlier this year, when he set the existing record of 33 days.

Mr Beaumont said he was more used to solo challenges. "When you're in a team of six living on top of each other, you've got absolutely no personal space living on a tiny rowing boat. And there's no way off. So, once you're committed, once we row out of Morocco, that's us and we have to get on," he said.

Man on a mission: Beaumont's feats

The Scot cycled more than 18,000 miles through 20 different countries in 2008, including Pakistan, Malaysia and Australia, battling crashes, dysentery and mechanical problems as he broke the record for a cycling circumnavigation of the world, in 194 days.

Mr Beaumont completed another mammoth ride in 2010, travelling from Alaska to the southern tip of Argentina over 268 days, traversing 13,000 miles.

Last Summer, he was part of a crew which spent a month rowing 500 miles across the Arctic, to highlight the issue of climate change.

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