Dubai-based trio to take up rowing race for a noble cause

Dubai-based trio to take up rowing race for a noble cause
Lee Felton (front) Sean Lannon .

Dubai - The Britons will take their 29 x 6 foot boat across the Atlantic to raise awareness of human trafficking.



by

Kelly Clarke

Published: Wed 23 Sep 2015, 12:00 AM

Last updated: Wed 23 Sep 2015, 4:12 PM

3,000 miles, 40 days, 50 foot waves and the odd encounter with a shark. This may sound like the opening scene to a Hollywood blockbuster, but come December, British expatriates Lee Felton, Tom Hodgson and Sean Lannon will make this a reality.
Embarking on the Talisker Atlantic Challenge - also known as the 'toughest rowing race' in the world - the Dubai-based trio will take their 29 x 6 foot boat across the Atlantic to raise awareness of human trafficking.
"The boat has no roof and is about the size of a Range Rover. We'll be open to the elements 24 hours a day, seven days a week," Felton told Khaleej Times.
Starting the journey from Gran Canaria on December 14, the trio will spend Christmas, New Year, and possibly Valentine's day on the water. "The journey can take anywhere between 40 to 90 days, all depending on Mother Nature, the rowing abilities and luck," he said.
And it's a decision which has left some family members reeling. "As you can imagine I'm not on the top of my family's list at the moment, but they are being super supportive and they completely understand the timings."
Felton and his team plan to conclude the race in Antigua, but given its complexities, they have been forced to prepare for the best and worst.
"This is a very dangerous race and lots could go wrong. We will be battling 40-50 foot waves, all types of weather conditions and we need to be aware of whales and sharks too. We can't afford to damage the boat."
But for now, Felton says he is focusing on the positives.
"We are doing this for a worthy cause. 'Sport for Freedom' is such a noble cause and if we can help raise awareness on human trafficking, then it is all worth it."
Surviving on little to no sleep, dehydrated, tasteless freeze pack food, and desalinated sea water, the physical and emotional strain on these men will be testing to say the least.
"This boat will be powered by our arms and only our arms. There is no engine on board, we are the engine," he said.
With limited space on board and no bathroom, the team will sleep in an open space smaller than that of a single bed.
Working in set shifts, they will work two hours on and two hours off, with two men rowing at any one time.
Deprived of sleep, nutrition and all contact with the outside world - they will be forced to live like the human trafficking victims they are trying to support.
Calling themselves the 'SquareOneAtlantic' team, Felton tells Khaleej Times the inspiration behind the name.
"Lannon came up with the idea of doing this race two years ago but his original team fell through. He was so determined to crack it, so he went back to the drawing board - back to 'Square One' - and got another team together."
When he initially broached the idea to science teacher Felton, Lannon was met with a bit of a brick wall. "When he first mentioned it I couldn't have thought of anything worse," Felton said.
But when he learnt more about the 'Sport for Freedom' charity, his mind was made up - and SquareOneAtlantic was born.
So far, the fearless three have raised more than Dh250,000 of their Dh600,000 initial target.
The race will start in early December to coincide with the end of the hurricane season. With a vigorous training regime already in place they have only two months to raise the full total.
"We are on track but what we need is support from some local sponsors to reach our Dh600,000 total."
With the race generating publicity in over 40 countries across the globe, reaching half a billion people, the team is looking for corporate sponsors who want to put their logo on their webpage, clothing, and the boat itself.
"This will be by far the toughest challenge of our lives but if we can save just one victim from human trafficking and get the world tackling this illegal trade, it will be worth it. Why not be a part of that." he said.
kelly@khaleejtimes.com

The 29 x 6 foot boat that will be used at the Talisker Atlantic Challenge. —Supplied photos
The 29 x 6 foot boat that will be used at the Talisker Atlantic Challenge. —Supplied photos

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