Belfast Telegraph

Monday 21 April 2014

Pair plan North Atlantic rowing bid

Rower Roz Savage is to embark on a treacherous challange across the North Atlantic

A clergyman's daughter and a father of two are hoping to row into the record books when they embark on a treacherous journey across the North Atlantic.

Roz Savage, 44, and Andrew Morris, 48, are aiming to be the first mixed-gender team to make the journey from the iceberg-infested waters of St John's, Newfoundland, in Canada to the Bristol Channel, before joining the River Thames to row into London before the start of the Olympics.

The pair will spend eight weeks battling the elements in the 24-foot rowing boat Bojangles, taking it in turns to row and sleep for two hours at a time.

Ms Savage, who has already rowed the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian oceans, is due to take the first stint of the 2,000-mile journey, charting a course due east as they head for Bristol.

If they successfully complete the challenge, the duo will set two other records: becoming the first pair to cross the North Atlantic from Canada to the UK, and the first crew to complete a transatlantic row finishing in London.

But Ms Savage said a place in the record books was not the priority, despite holding four Guinness world records as a solo rower. "I have accidentally clocked up four records but that isn't the goal, ocean rowing is my platform to raise environmental awareness."

She said she was not blind to how perilous their plan might be, adding: "I am very conscious that of the six rowers that have died at sea, five have died on this route, so safety is key. We will be clipping ourselves in to make sure we don't get separated from the boat. We can manage the risks but it will be cold and rough and foggy."

Mr Morris, who is father to Millie, eight, and Leo, 13, said: "I am naturally worried about my family, whom I love to bits. I will take as many precautions as necessary to arrive safely back and I look forward to being reunited with the people I love. I am rowing to inspire others. People can do things if they really put their mind to it and especially in this amazing Olympic year."

The pair have already received plenty of messages of support from celebrity well-wishers, including Sir Richard Branson and fellow adventurer Ben Fogle. Ms Savage's clergyman father died eight years ago but she says her 73-year-old mother Rita is a "core member of the team" who will be cheering on the pair when they reach Bristol.

Ms Savage, from Cheshire, and businessman Mr Morris, from Nottinghamshire, hope their expedition, named the OAR Project, will raise the profile of two charity initiatives; The first is to raise money to buy a fleet of rowing boats for able-bodied and disabled young people, as part of OAR Inspiring, an education programme to inspire and motivate British schoolchildren. The second is to support the British charity Plastic Oceans, which is dedicated to fighting plastic pollution worldwide.

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