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Novice rowers take on Atlantic challenge

9 July 2004

Novice rowers take on Atlantic challenge

TWO MIDLANDS STUDENTS will throw caution to the wind to row across the world's second biggest ocean.

Aston University's George Simpson and Paul Herbert will be joined by friends David Martin and Neil Wightwick in the trans-Atlantic rowing challenge, the Ocean Rowing Society Regatta.

Their 20-foot long boat, likely to be named The City of Birmingham, will contain a smattering of technical equipment and enough provisions to last the four men for a couple of months at sea. Everything other than these bare essentials will be jettisoned ahead of the challenge.

What makes the Aston students' involvement more extraordinary is the fact that, while George has just one year's rowing experience, Paul has none at all.

The pair are currently land-training five days a week to attune themselves for the challenge ahead. Paul is getting to grips with the rowing machine in his local gym so he at least has a feel for what he is letting himself in for.

The physical training needs to prepare the group to be able to row for 12 hours a day for a month or more to get from the Canary Islands to Barbados when they finally set out in January 2006.

During the competition the team will split into pairs to do two hours of rowing, and two hours off; everything else, including sleep, will be snatched in the interim hours.

The effect on their bodies means that each member of the team can expect to lose between one and two stones in weight during the race.

As part of the preparation - and to raise funds for their chosen charity, the Nolan Trust - the group will this summer cycle from Land's End to John O'Groats. George Simpson raised �2000 for the same organisation last summer and felt a couple of weeks of saddle-soreness would be a good way for the group to bond together.

George admits to having been coaxed into the Atlantic challenge by his former rowing coach, David Martin, in return for his taking part in the comparatively meagre 52k Boston Rowing Marathon.

In addition to the physical training the group is also aware that they need to be mentally fit for the challenge: 'we have to plan as best we can,' said George.

'We have to think ahead about likely scenarios and think how we will cope. We have to come up with contingency plans. We will just have to sort out the problems and get on with it,' he added.

Before setting out the team will also attend group therapy to gain some professional guidance on the sort of mental pressures they are likely to encounter during the competition.

Their biggest challenge of all is likely to be raising the �50,000 they need to have in place to get them to the starting line. The group has gained the support of Birmingham City Council and is looking for other organisations to get on board.

George would like to hear from anyone who is interested in this charity event. If you would like to help him help leukaemia sufferers, contact him directly via: info@Atlantic4.co.uk

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For further information please call 0121 204 4549 or email: b.a.l.coombes@aston.ac.uk

Note for editors:

For further information see the team website: www.Atlantic4.co.uk. Information on the event is available at: www.oceanrowing.com/

The Anthony Nolan Trust was founded in 1974 as the first register of volunteers willing to donate bone marrow in circumstances where a match could not be found within a patient's family. The Trust now holds one of the largest databases of unrelated donors in the world. The Anthony Nolan Trust owes its existence to Shirley Nolan who established the register in an attempt to save the life of her son, Anthony (1971-1979). That challenge sadly failed but since then the trust has organised thousands of transplants worldwide. For more information visit its website: www.anthonynolan.org.uk

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