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Boat building for an extraordinary challenge - the M2M Atlantic Four

by Epoxycraft 11 Jun 2021 06:00 PDT
Preparing to row non-stop from mainland Europe to mainland South America © M2M Atlantic Four

1 boat. 60 days. 3,800 miles.

Four friends are aiming to do something extraordinary. To be the first crew to row non-stop from mainland Europe to mainland South America in a pure class boat.

The challenge

The normal Atlantic challenge starts in the Canary Islands and finishes in the Caribbean. Instead, Jim, Justin, Rob and Tom, will be rowing from Portugal to French Guiana, adding another 800 miles onto an already incredibly difficult challenge.

"We'll be setting off from the marina of Portimao, on the south coast of Portugal," explained Tom. From there, the crew will push towards the Canary Islands where they'll have to navigate notoriously unpredictable weather. They'll then track the African Coast before heading west across the Atlantic Ocean to French Guiana. A route accounting for a staggering 3,800 miles.

The team will be following a routine of a rolling two hours of rowing, followed by a two hour break. During their break time they'll be sleeping, eating, confirming navigation and performing any maintenance required on the boat.

"We plan on completing the trip in 60 days and during that time we'll be entirely self-sufficient. We'll be taking all our own food and desalinating the water we need for drinking, cleaning and cooking."

Meet the crew

Justin rowed the Atlantic challenge in 2019. Tom and Rob cycled around the world. Jim hiked across New Zealand.

It's clear these guys aren't ones to shy away from a challenge.

The idea of rowing across the Atlantic is something that has been dreamt of for some time. Tom met Jim back at university as part of the rowing team. "The challenge was something we spoke of undertaking back then," explains Tom. "Now is the time for that challenge to be realised."

The Trilogy

A carbon fibre and fibreglass boat, 'Trilogy', is the vessel the crew is trusting to take them on this incredible journey. Constructed in 2013, the boat has completed three Atlantic crossings.

"Our boat is a pure class rowing boat, so it gains no advantage from the wind," explains Tom. "We would be the first crew to make the journey in such a boat." Trilogy holds three rowing positions and a watertight cabin at either end. Power comes from solar panels and is stored in two marine batteries.

"The team at WEST SYSTEM® were kind enough to provide us with the materials we needed to fix a new rudder and daggerboard," says Tom. The new rudder was made with Western Red Cedar and Sapele used for the leading and trailing edges. The daggerboard was made using laminated African hardwood and both were handmade by Michael Riley, Tom's father and craftsman cabinet maker for over 50 years. "We let in a strip of unidirectional carbon fibre on both sides of the daggerboard for additional stiffness," explains Tom. "The rudder also has a 'yoke' attached on top with joints that needed filleting."

The team wanted to keep the rudder clear as to retain the beautiful design. Colin Fletcher from WEST SYSTEM epoxy recommended the WEST SYSTEM 105 Epoxy Resin with 207 Special Coating Hardener because it is very clear and would show off the grain from the wood.

"I am a total beginner with fibreglass and Colin has been a great help to us, offering technical advice throughout the build," said Tom.

The list of materials provided during this project include:

About the Charities

The crew will raise money for two charities during this challenge: Surfers Against Sewage and Our Blue Light.

A marine conservation charity, Surfers Against Sewage work with local communities to protect oceans, beaches and marine life. Their primary focus is on plastic pollution but they also work on other issues too, including climate change, water quality and coastal development.

Our Blue Light work to promote the physical and mental well-being of emergency service personnel and their families. Tom himself works as a paramedic and sees everyday how the job affects his colleagues. The charity looks to promote the physical and mental well-being of their colleagues and to advance the education of the public to the work of the emergency and essential services across the UK.

"I am eager for the opportunity to raise awareness and funding for our two chosen charities. So much enjoyment will come from the crossing, not least the ocean wildlife that we'll see. It seems only right to give a little back."

Looking ahead to the challenge

The crew plan on getting in 200 hours of training over the summer in the North Sea. "We'll be practising navigation, drills and there's still some maintenance to do," explains Tom. "We're aiming to set sale in December this year."

"I am not ignorant to the monumental challenge that lies ahead of us. Leaving behind loved ones to sign up for weeks of sleep deprivation, sea sickness and sore bottoms!" says Tom. "But I am excited to push myself, discover new experiences, make new friends and, most of all, set off on an adventure."

Follow their journey via their website and on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. You can also donate to their dedicated charities or donate to the costs of the expedition.

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