More people have been into space or climbed Mount Everest than have rowed across the Atlantic. But three Scots today began their mission to join this select group.
The MacLean brothers, known as ‘Broar’, will spend the next 40-60 days rowing two hours on, one hour off, across shark-infested waters and shipping lanes. During their voyage, the Edinburgh-raised trio will face blisters, exhaustion, severe dehydration, 40-degree heat, salt sores, storms and hallucinations caused by a combination of sleep deprivation and low sugar levels
In a bid to become the fastest trio to ever row the Atlantic, the brothers will take more than 1.5 million strokes and will consume up to 12,000 calories a day. Despite this, they’ll lose almost 20% of their bodyweight.
Known as the ‘world’s toughest row’, the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge is one of the most demanding endurance events on the planet. Just 35 crews from across the globe will compete in the premier event in ocean rowing, which will see competitors race more than 3,000 miles west from San Sebastian in La Gomera, Canary Islands, to Nelson’s Dockyard English Harbour, in Antigua and Barbuda.
Ewan, a 27-year-old design engineer based in Bristol has taken a three-month sabbatical from Dyson to take part in the row, while Glasgow School of Art architecture student Jamie (26) and University of Glasgow student Lachlan (21) will complete their studies upon their return. The MacLeans, the first three brothers to row any ocean together, will spend Christmas and New Year on the boat, armed only with their instruments, a mouth organ, ukulele and bagpipes, for entertainment.
The seeds for this ambitious row were sown in Nedd, Wester Ross, where the boys spent much of their childhood and developed a love for the outdoors. That’s why the brothers have decided to take on this challenge to raise money for two children’s charities, Children 1st and Feedback Madagascar.
Youngest brother Lachlan said: ‘We realised if we didn’t do this now, we would never do it. It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity and I wouldn’t be able to do it without my two big brothers alongside me.
‘We’ll go to some dark places, but we’ll learn so much about ourselves and each other. We know it will be a challenge – most other crews have military or navy experience. We’re two students and an engineer whose rowing experience prior to signing up for this was in the gym. But I’ve always believed everyone is capable of amazing things and no matter how painful it is, it will be amazing to look back on when we’re old and grey.
‘The main reason we’re doing this is to raise money for two charities which mean a lot to us, so hopefully everyone will dig deep.’
Broar had to raise £120,000 to cover equipment, transportation of the boat, race entry fees and more. Beyond that, the boys plan to raise an incredible £250,000 for Feedback Madagascar and Children First.
Managing director of Feedback Madagascar, Jamie Spencer, said: ‘We really appreciate the boys undertaking this challenge for Feedback Madagascar.
‘While we will be sitting in our warm homes enjoying the holidays, these brave boys will be undertaking an incredible challenge for a great cause.
“As a result of their efforts, we will be building new boreholes with the funds they raise to transform the lives of over 6,000 people in Madagascar. If they hit their fundraising target, for each mile they put behind them they will have provided two more people with clean water.”
The boys’ father, Charles MacLean, the world’s leading whisky expert, is creating a special limited edition blend, ‘Maclean’s Pillage’ which will be auctioned by Royal Mile Whiskies in early 2020 to raise money for Feedback Madagascar.
Regan Johnson, senior community fundraiser for Broar’s other charity beneficiary, Children 1st added: “The months of hard work and dedication the Broar brothers have invested into their training and in Children 1st is truly inspirational. Everyone at our charity would like to say a massive thank you and good luck to the brothers. Go Team Broar, you’ve got this!”
Cairnhill Structures is among more than 20 businesses who helped the Broar brothers make it to the startline.
Managing director Neil Watson said: ‘We at Cairnhill Structures could not be more proud to support Broar as they embark on what is sure to be a life-changing adventure. I think it is important businesses give back by supporting those who do exceptional things, so we signed up as soon as I heard their ambitious vision.
‘We’ll be monitoring their progress closely on social media. I know their trip has the potential to inspire the whole country, and most importantly raise lots of money for two very worthwhile charities. “
You can keep up to date with the challenge on Broar’s LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter accounts. Donations can be made via www.broar.co.uk.