Scot to row the Atlantic in bid to raise £250,000 for charity

A Scottish businessman is set to row the Atlantic in a bid to raise £250,000 for charity.

Robbie Laidlaw, from Gullane, East Lothian, will be setting sail from La Gomera, an island off Tenerife, on 14 December with his boss Chris Mitchell.

The pair hope to complete the 3,000 mile journey to Antigua in their boat, Maria, in just 50 days. 

The island port where they will set off, San Sebastian de la Gomera, was where Christopher Columbus set sail for the New World.

Both Robbie, 34, and Chris, 41, from Genuine Dining, a contract catering business, will each row in two-hour stints, and sleep, eat and clean for two hours, 24 hours every day.  

In total, they will each have to make some one million strokes to complete the arduous journey.

Their 7.5 metre boat can only carry basic medical, navigation, communications and survival equipment alongside enough food to sustain them for up to two months. 

They will convert seawater into drinking water, and use buckets as toilets.

The pair will have to endure real hardships on their journey – from bad weather, up to 20-foot waves and high winds to medical problems including hallucinations and salt sores.  

They will also have to deal with the mental challenges of the harsh environment and long-term isolation.

Robbie and Chris have been training for two years in preparation for this challenge, rowing three times during the week, gym work, with longer rows at the weekend. 

During their training rows, they have rowed from Ramsgate to Rotterdam, from Falmouth to Southampton, and many times around the Isle of Wight. 

Robbie said: ‘The training regime has been gruelling – 5am rowing sessions have become normal.

‘We knew it was going to be tough, but the time it has taken up has had a big effect on our families, and we are so grateful for their support.

‘The mental preparations have been the toughest, but we have been working with mindset coaches who normally train fighter pilots, so when things get tough or scary, we will be able to think clearly to ensure we are staying safe.’

So far, the duo has raised £150,000 for Hospitality Action, a charity for the hospitality sector. 

They were particularly busy during the pandemic, with many people requiring financial and mental health support. 

But with the cost of living crisis, the charity needs help more than ever and Chris and Robbie hope to raise another £100,000 to reach their target of £250,000.

‘The hospitality industry is built upon a strong community spirit, and this spirit was damaged during the fallout of the pandemic with waves of redundancies sweeping the sector across 2019 and 2020,’ said Chris.

‘Hospitality Action supports people facing mental health challenges, which we understand the importance of.  

‘It’s why we want to support them on our Atlantic campaign.’

The race across the Atlantic is organised by the World’s Toughest Row and comprises boats of one rower, or teams of two, three, four and five from around the world.  

The organisation has strict safety rules and works with each team to ensure proper preparedness. 

First held in 1997, and an annual event since 2015, the fastest crossing was in 2017 by a 4-man British crew in just over 29 days.

While the event is billed as a race, the organisers say that everyone who completes the crossing is a winner.  This year 40 teams are taking part.

‘We have named our rowing campaign The Spirit of Hospitality. Built upon generosity, cheerfulness and fun, our campaign brings together an industry that has suffered greatly, to achieve one important goal – to support Hospitality Action and the vital work they do,’ said Robbie.

To donate visit –

Read more on Scottish Field’s News pages. 

Plus, don’t miss the November issue of Scottish Field magazine.