Sun. May 22nd, 2022

Isle of Wight Observer News

The Island's Free Newspaper

Novice rowers take on Atlantic challenge

2 min read

Three friends are planning to take on the ‘world’s toughest row’ – the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge – to raise funds for marine-focused environmental charities.

Xavier Baker and Paul Berry, of Ventnor, and Chris Mannion, of Newchurch, have grown up together and are in training to row 3,000 miles across the Atlantic from La Gomera in the Canary Islands to Antigua in just 35 days to break the record in their class.

Two of the three, Xavier and Chris, are complete rowing novices, while Paul has only rowed on a sliding seat, which uses a different technicque.

Xavier, a director and co-founder of the Isle of Wight Distillery, said: “We are all focused and determined chaps with a good understanding of the sea and certainly know not to underestimate her.
“While we each have our personal reasons for undertaking such an exciting and challenging adventure, we’re united in our passion for preserving the oceans and we’re thrilled to have the opportunity to undertake the Atlantic challenge to spotlight these causes.

“We are in full training, and have been supported by Newport Rowing Club who have taken us under their wing. Matt Wishaw has been brilliant with his coaching and making sure we get our technique right, so we are up and down the Medina all the time.”

The event takes place in December 2023 and the team will be rowing in their boat, named Mermaid Atlantic. Xavier added: “During the race, rowers will row for two hours on, two hours off, 24 hours a day.
“We will burn 5,000 calories per day so we will need to consume 5,000 calories through dehydrated food packs. We will have a water-maker on board which will convert sea water into drinking water and can make up to 20 litres in half an hour and we will all need to drink 10 litres a day. Once we’ve started, we’ll be unassisted and must carry everything required for the entire race!”

Paul is a firefighter with Hampshire and IW Fire and Rescue, while Chris is owner of iSurf Surf School and they all have a love of water through surfing, scuba-diving and rowing.

They will be raising funds for The Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust, Surfers Against Sewage and the Seahorse Trust. Xavier added: “We are looking for businesses to sponsor us and would love to speak to anyone interested.”

To find out more about donation and sponsorship opportunities visit or contact The team also has Instagram, Twitter and Facebook accounts, mermaidatlantic2023, which will be regularly updated.