The five amateur rowers have just set off from Lagos, Portugal, for Venezuela.

Five friends — four of whom are former British military — have set off from mainland Europe for South America in a bid to set a record for the fastest transatlantic crossing in a rowboat.

Mathew Bennett, Oliver Bailey, Jason Fox, Ross Johnson and Aldo Kane are attempting to row nearly 4,000 miles nonstop in what they hope will be a record-setting 46 days. The current record time for the transatlantic crossing stands at 52 days.

The team — calling themselves Team Essence — are rowing to raise £250,000 for the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) charity and have raised over £120,000 to date.

Team Essence Rowing

The Team Essence rowers are expecting a challenging trip, as they note on their website: “The passage from the Algarve region of Portugal to Venezuelan landmass, thereby achieving a continent to continent crossing, covers a vast swathe of the mid Atlantic and is by far the most challenging of all the Atlantic crossings, 500 miles further than the more popular route from the Canary Islands to Antigua. On this route [we] will likely encounter extreme weather, wildlife and we hope, considerable natural beauty to offset the physical toil we are set to endure.  In a relative sense, many Atlantic crossings have taken place … but our chosen passage differs considerably in its length and unfavourable conditions.”


According to their fundraising page on the NSPCC website, more people have been into space than have crossed the Atlantic from Europe to South Africa by rowboat. This is perhaps what prompted Tim Peak, currently orbiting the earth on the International Space Station as the first official British astronaut there, to tweet his encouragement to the team.

Team Essence is also enjoying technological support from British satellite telecommunications company Inmarsat, who have furnished the team with a positional data tracker, two satellite phones and a BGAN Explorer 510 terminal which will allow the team to update followers in real time on their Facebook and Twitter pages.


The group’s attempt comes just days after another team of four former British military men completed a transatlantic crossing as part of this year’s Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge. The men — all amputees — formed the Row2Recovery crew and rowed to raise money for Help for Heroes, Blesma, Prince Harry’s Endeavour Fund and Row2Recovery charities.

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