Four London friends rowing 3,000 miles across Atlantic for charity in epic challenge

 (Team Atlantic Endeavoar)
(Team Atlantic Endeavoar)

Four Londoners have spent a month grappling with 30-foot waves, “biblical” rain, and 40C heat as they row 3,000 miles across the Atlantic Ocean for charity.

Friends Oliver Collins, Will Hole, Louis Cruysmans and Henry Putt set off from La Gomera in Spain’s Canary Islands on December 12, embarking on the world’s toughest rowing race, the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge.

They have since been covering around 90 miles per day, and are hoping to finally reach the finish line in Antigua in the Caribbean on Saturday.

Louis Cruysmans, Will Hole, Olly Collins, and Henry Putt (Team Atlantic Endeavoar)
Louis Cruysmans, Will Hole, Olly Collins, and Henry Putt (Team Atlantic Endeavoar)

Their arduous journey has been punctured with once-in-a-lifetime encounters, and breathtaking scenes.

“We’ve seen spectacular sunsets, swells, moonscapes, storms and weather formations,” the team told the Standard.

“We’ve shared the sea with a pod of friendly dolphins, a tuna (we think), lots of birds and flying fish. Flying fish frequently collide with the boat and the rowers, and smell terrible.”

The team are also enduring physical challenges, such as sleep deprivation and salt sores, while their boat does not have a bathroom.

They are each rowing in two-hour shifts, sleeping for two hours in the boat’s small cabins when not at the oars.

In order to take in the 5,000 calories they are burning daily, they rely on freeze-dried ration packs typically consumed by astronauts.

They must also drink around 10 litres of water per day, which is filtered from seawater using solar power.

Louis Cruysmans (Team Atlantic Endeavoar)
Louis Cruysmans (Team Atlantic Endeavoar)

“We are currently all very unsteady on our feet,” said the team in their most recent weekly newsletter. “Our calf muscles seem to have disappeared given we haven’t really stood up the entire crossing.”

As their final destination looms closer, the team says they are fantasising about “basic wants” including “to sleep on an actual bed without having set an alarm, a breakfast buffet, and tasting fresh fruit for the first time in over a month”.

Around 20 to 40 teams take part in the Talisker Whisky challenge every year, with races running across both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.

All but one of the quad had “zero” rowing experience before they began training for the challenge two years ago, but decided to take on the epic journey in hope of raising £150,000 for two causes close to their hearts.

They are rowing for mental health charity Mind, and The Oli Hilsdon Foundation - a brain tumour research charity set up in memory of their close friend Oli, who lost his battle with malignant brain tumour glioblasta multiforme days before his 27th birthday, in 2019.

The friends - who together form Team Atlantic Endeavoar - have so far raised more than £60,000.

Find out more on their website, follow them on Instagram, or visit their donation page here.