Mermaid Atlantic Team make final preparations ahead of ‘The World’s Toughest Row’

This week, the Mermaid Atlantic Team leave the Isle of Wight for La Gomera in the Canary Islands ahead of their gruelling row across the Atlantic.

The three team members, all native to the Isle of Wight, Xavier Baker, co-founder of The Isle of Wight Distillery, Chris Manion, owner of i-surf and Paul Berry, Ventnor longshoreman and firefighter, will be rowing unsupported 3,000 nautical miles from the Canary Islands to the Caribbean in their Rannoch 45 rowing boat, named Mermaid Atlantic.

They are taking on this challenge in a bid to raise awareness of ocean pollution, raising funds for three organisations: Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust, Surfers Against Sewage and The Seahorse Trust.  They are hoping to communicate the detrimental effect of waste items on the ocean – plastic is the biggest culprit but there are other materials that don’t decompose, polluting the water, damaging eco-systems and threatening marine life.

They also want to raise awareness of the power of seagrass and the role it plays in combating the climate crisis. Seagrass is the unsung hero of the ocean, home to many sea creatures and also functions as a huge carbon sink (able to absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere), sequestering it 35 times faster than the rainforest. However its survival is being threatened by human intervention including mooring anchors, buoys and pollution.

The race starts on 12 December and the Mermaid Atlantic Team will be rowing along with around 35 other teams who will face 40ft waves, unpredictable weather conditions, including potential 35 knot winds, possible Blue Marlin strikes and the physical and mental effects of non-stop rowing for what could be 55 days or more.

The three teammates will take turns to row 2 hours on and 2 hours off, 24 hours a day. They will need to consume 5,000 calories per day through dehydrated food packs and will in turn burn 5,000 calories. They will be drinking 10 litres of water a day, which will be made through their onboard water maker which can convert seawater into drinking water and can make up to 20 litres in half an hour. They hope to break the world record of 35 days, 9 hours and 9 minutes but safety is of paramount importance.

Over the last 12 months, the three team members have followed a rigorous training programme, followed a strict exercise regime and participated in safety courses, to ensure they are up to the challenges presented with the race. They are all well versed in ocean sports with skills in sailing, surfing and kayaking however all but Paul are novice rowers.

The team are supported in their adventure by a host of island businesses and organisations, including Visit Isle of Wight, Indigo Marine, Adrift Visuals, Rapanui and the main sponsor, the Isle of Wight Distillery, producers of Mermaid Gin, Rum and Vodka from which the boat takes its name.  They have also received sponsorship from mainland and overseas businesses, such as Mustang Survival, Elliot Brown, Vetro Elite and the Hinton Group.

Speaking on behalf of the team, Xavier Baker said: “We have spent the last few years dreaming of taking part in this challenge and it has now become reality. We are hugely grateful to all those who have sponsored us and engaged with us on our journey and we feel well prepared both mentally and physically for taking on the mighty ocean. We know there will be good times and not so good times but we are ready for all that is thrown at us and at the back of our minds will always be our shared passion to protect and preserve the ocean.”



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