Row for Heroes: 2,100 Mile Row Around Britain

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After 50 days and five hours at sea two Army doctors rowed into Lymington harbour and the record books last Thursday.

As they crossed the finish line on the Solent near Lymington Yacht Haven, Hampshire, captains Hamish Reid and Nick Dennison, of the Royal Army Medical Corps, became the first pair to row non-stop and unsupported around Britain.

A flotilla of boats and a helicopter flypast greeted their return from the 2,100-mile Row for Heroes around Britain. The 28-year-olds, who hope to raise £20,000 for charities Help For Heroes and The Army Benevolent Fund, were as relieved to be back on dry land as they were thrilled to be in the record books.

Captain Dennison, from Bristol and based at Bovington Camp, Dorset comments “The reception was amazing. About 15 boats escorted us to the finish line and fired off flares. It was all really good fun and great to have the family there. You end up thinking for hours and hours how long it’s going to take and counting down the miles. For the last five days we’ve been just willing to get back, wanting to get back, and to finally get there is awesome.”

Captain Reid, whose first challenge was to learn to row, added: “The main feeling about setting a world record is a great relief after putting in so much effort getting around, plus the two years planning over the course of that time. Many experienced seaman told us it would not be practical to complete the journey, so we are delighted to be able to prove them wrong.”

It was the culmination of two years planning and a tireless battle against high seas, strong winds and forceful tides. They began their charity challenge from The Needles, the western point of the Isle of Wight, in their 24ft rowing boat named Komale on May 12. Their daily routine was dictated by the conditions. It varied from alternating two hours on and two hours off to rowing all out when the wind was with them or simply dropping anchor and sheltering from unfavourable tides. On average they rowed up to 12 hours each a day for 50 days straight.

“I think it was harder than we anticipated,” said Capt Dennison, who rowed for five years at Sheffield University. “There were just so many challenges to it.  You’re rowing at 2am when all your body wants to do is sleep or rowing into a headwind and making half a knot – but half a knot is better than going backwards. We had this time off Ireland when the wind blew from the North for the best part of five days and we got pinned down and could not go anywhere. So we sat on the anchor and waited for the wind to past, which was pretty miserable.”

But there was some compensation. “It was absolutely stunning,” added Capt Dennison. “You take it for granted and you just don’t realise how beautiful some of the parts of the British Isles are – especially western Isles of Scotland. The amount of wildlife is just incredible.”

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