Expedition media launch at Farmoor Reservoir, Oxford
with Olympic Rower, Sarah Winkless (right) and Elizabeth
Wheeldon (second from right) Marketing Director from Katharine House
Katharine House hospice
in Adderbury and the Community Boathouse for Oxford project. They also
have to raise ?35,000 just to take part. Mr Spring, 29, of Charles
Street, Oxford, spends his summer evenings at Falcon Rowing and Canoe
Club, near Donnington Bridge, kayaking rather than rowing. Dr
Stableforth is doing much the same in Derby, where he works at the Royal
"I don't actually like rowing. It's boring," says Mr Spring, who works
for the Earthwatch Institute in Summertown.
"I don't actually like rowing. It's
boring," says Mr Spring, who works for the Earthwatch Institute in
"It's more the challenge of endurance on the sea that's appealing to me.
It's something I've always wanted to do. We haven't actually trained in a
Ocean rowing is very different to rowing on the calm Isis in Oxford. In
any case, it's all right. Kayakers can do anything."
The pair will take part in ocean rowing trials and will head out to the
Canary Islands to the starting point of the race early to get
acclimatised. They are training for triathlons and other events to ensure
they are fit.
Mr Spring said: "The aim is to get mentally prepared and become very
strong and fit. Getting across is the most important thing.
Being able to cope with someone else for three months and keeping
positive is the bigger challenge, not the rowing itself."
The rowers will race from St Sebastian de la Gomera in the Canary Islands
to Port St Charles, Barbados, hopefully in about 70 days. Everything
depends on the weather, says Mr Spring.
"You can have Olympic rowers who take 110 days, while a couple of amateurs
can make it in just 40 days, all because of the weather," he said.
The pair's race plan is for one person to row at a time. During daylight,
each will complete two hours of rowing, then take a two-hour break, while
the other takes over. At night, they will do four-hour shifts.
Rest periods will be spent in a tiny cabin built for one person and kit.
They will have to contend with waves up to 40ft high, big ships, sores and
possibly whales and sharks. When storms hit, the boat is specially
designed to self-right.
Despite the hazards, they have dreamt about the trip since their student
days at Cardiff University.
Mr Spring said: "Both of us have been doing things like this on a smaller
scale all our lives. At university we both independently read accounts of
John Ridgeway and Chay Blyth rowing the Atlantic. We said then we would do
Mr Spring said the charities were chosen because they reflect their own
beliefs. "My mother used to work at the hospice. It's a place that needs
support from the local community and I'm glad to help, he said.
I'm also a kayak racer with Falcon Rowing and Canoe Club, who are behind
the Community Boathouse for Oxford project, and I believe very much that
these sports should be open to all. Having a community boatclub would be a
massive bonus to the east Oxford area."
Oxford's Community Boat House Project, led by Falcon Rowing and Canoe Club
in Meadow Lane, Oxford, aims to provide more opportunities for
disadvantaged people to take up river sports.
Falcon chairman Peter Travis said: "It's a great honour that Nat and
William are using their big event to back the boathouse scheme.
Katharine House hospice in Adderbury provides specialist palliative care
for patients with cancer and other incurable illnesses.
The hospice needs to raise ?1.3m a year to provide a free service to
patients and their relatives.
Only 28 per cent of its income comes from the Government.
The hospice's fundraising co-ordinator, Sue Lane, said: "We are delighted
to learn Nat and Bill are doing this for us.
"We have many supporters in the local community.
Many do unusual things, but an Atlantic row is very unusual.
?10,000 is an impressive aim. We're very grateful."
Competitors must carry food to last 90 days on the boat, making weight an
important factor. A water maker, which removes salt from seawater, will
use energy from solar panels on cabin roof. It takes two hours to produce
10 litres and the result may taste slightly salty. Due to the physical
demands of rowing hours on end, each rower must eat 6,000 calories per
Nat and Bill's boat measures 7.5 metres long and 1.8 metres wide. It has a
small sleeping cabin. Ocean rowing boats are made from materials such as
marine ply, fibreglass and cedar wood, and can cost up to ?35,000 second
Their boat has satellite navigation systems and phones, life jackets, a
safety line and a harness to ensure they cannot be lost overboard.
The pair are appealing for donations. To help, e-mail