From a racing boat to a wreck and back again!

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When two coastal rowers, Mark Green and Ellis Hagger from Bournemouth, auditioned to become ‘Royal Rowers’ in Ridley Scott’s 2010 blockbuster Robin Hood, little did they know that the next four years would take them on a whirlwind adventure in surfboat rowing – culminating in an audacious 3-month row around the UK in May 2015.

As reported in Rowing & Regatta May 2011, the two men – along with lots of local help – began refurbishing a 22-year-old Australian Surfboat which had been left to rot, turning it back into a proud racing craft. A new UK Surf Rowing League club was formed (Bournemouth Surf Boat Club), and their ladies went on to win a silver in the European Championship in Biarittz 2011. Fast forward to today, and the guys are embarking on a new challenge entirely…

Four rowers, including Mark and Ellis, are in training to row their surfboat around the UK in a gruelling three month endurance row. Steen Stones (who originally found the wrecked surfboat) and Sean Leddy, who have both competed in surf rowing competitions, make up the stalwart crew who will take on the British coastline. The crew will also contain two support rowers (Gary Cure and Mark Vidler) who will each row for four weeks and six weeks respectively.

The challenge is to row the open boat up to 30 miles a day, for up to three months in order to circumnavigate the 2,500 mile British coastline and raise funds for The Wessex Cancer Trust and The Royal Marines Charitable Trust Fund. When not in the boat the rowers will be reliant on campsites for lodgings, as well as boathouse floors (when invited!)

The crew will have over 100 ports or stop-overs to arrange, with the top end of Scotland posing a particular logistical challenge. They have received lots of support from the rowing and sailing community, however, and are remain full of confidence.

“Combined with this, Sir Steve Redgrave and Helen Glover MBE have lent their support to the challenge as well as Sir Ranulph Fiennes who is the official Patron,” said Hagger. “The crew have also been offered ‘…a few beers and food’ by Pete Goss MBE when we land in Plymouth!”

To date Volvic, Speedo (the crew will be rowing in Speedos throughout!) and C.E.O. Media Group have supported the challenge, but the crew are always looking for more sponsorship. Draper Tools have supplied much needed tools and waterproof equipment, and Neaves Rowing Services have the unenviable task of temporarily turning a sweep surfboat into a long-distance scull.

We’ll have more from the hardy surfboat rowers in an upcoming edition of Rowing & Regatta magazine. In the meantime, visit their official website: www.ukcharityrow2015.com.

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