LUXE: What can you tell us about Ocean Revival?
JM: We started planning the row back in September 2018. A bunch of us got together and started to have a think about a big challenge we could set ourselves.
We decided we wanted to do an ocean row, so we did a bit of research and came across the 3,700 mile Atlantic Row – also known as ‘the world’s most dangerous row’. It sounded like a bit of us, so we looked into it and the rest is history.
We wanted to do it for charities that were close to our hearts; the first being The Royal Marines Charity because we’re all either currently serving or former serving Royal Marines.
For the second one, we wanted to link it to the oceans. After watching quite a few documentaries on the issues regarding plastic pollution, we did some digging and came across Plastic Oceans UK.
Everything just spiralled from there and it’s got progressively bigger and bigger. We were due to set off this spring, and of course, the whole thing got cancelled.
IC: We were very close to getting the boat shipped out to New York; we were literally a week away. The boat was with our shipping provider in London, packed and ready to go, but they held off because of what was happening.
As far as we were concerned, we were going, we were getting ready to say goodbye to our families, the training had come to a head, and we were pumped up, ready for the challenge. We were so lucky they didn’t ship it.
JM: We were due to fly on 4 May, with the plan to set off on 15 May. You have to wait for a weather window, so you can’t just cement that date, but that was the rough plan.
Everything is weather dependent, but you’re looking at 60-80 days to complete the challenge.
It’s tough work – the only time that you get a proper break is if there’s a big storm, in which case you batten down the hatches and climb down to hide out in your pod.
But even then, it’s not a real rest because, as you can imagine, if you’re inside a boat getting absolutely smashed by the waves, you’re not really going to sleep that effectively – but I guess that’s just part of the challenge.
LUXE: Have you got a new date for the challenge?
IC: This summer has given us a chance to enjoy some unexpected family time. Of course, it’s frustrating having to push everything back, particularly when you’ve been working towards something for such a long time, but we’ve just been concentrating on our health and happiness at home as we begin to build up again ready for the same time next year.
Joel and I have looked into running an ultra marathon, just to keep momentum going. We’re thinking of running the Wainwright’s Coast to Coast Trail from St Bees to Robin Hood’s Bay, with the aim of running 190 miles in three days.
But for now, we’re just starting to build momentum as a team again, get our heads together and plan for a big push in 2021.
It’s important for us to keep on top of the boat and make sure we’re ocean ready.
JM: Hopefully, it means we all get the chance to do some more fundraising. We’ve already reached the £50k target, so that’s taken the pressure off a little, but we want to continue raising awareness for our charities while concentrating on becoming better ocean rowers with a better chance of a successful crossing next May.
LUXE: You were so close to the start of an epic row. How has the setback affected the team’s morale?
JM: It’s very strange at the minute because it was such a huge build up, we were really motivated and energised, and then when it gets stripped away from you, naturally you feel a little bit deflated.
It’s bizarre to think that, at the time of speaking, we’d literally be in the middle of the North Atlantic, but we’ve just had to move on and look to the future.
It’s actually been quite refreshing to have a bit of time away from the boat, because the past two years of our lives have been totally consumed by it – it’s been constant, which is fantastic, but at the same time, if you’re going to take a little break, then why not do it now and enjoy it.
IC: It wasn’t just preparing for the row, it was all of the other bits in between. A lot of it was about raising money for charity and raising awareness about how we can help save the oceans.
So, on top of the physical work, we’ve done all kinds of fundraising and educational support including school visits and workshops.
JM: It has been very hectic. We’ve had charity event after charity event after charity event. We’ve raised over £50k for The Royal Marines Charity and Plastic Oceans UK. It’s been wonderful to see.
Our last social event as a group, before the COVID outbreak, was back in March at our Black Tie Charity Gala. It was a great way to showcase our sponsors and charities, and we added a big chunk to the fundraising pot through live auctions and ticket costs.
LUXE: Why did you decide to take on ‘the world’s most dangerous row’?
IC: I used to row competitively for the River Tees Rowing Club, but only for a year or so; but river rowing is very different to ocean rowing, as we’ve found throughout training.
There’s only one guy in the team who has rowed across an ocean before and that’s Matt Mason, our captain.
JM: We’ve all bee involved in expeditions in the past. Being in the Marines, you’re always out there doing some big challenge to push you out of your comfort zone. So for us, it was just about finding the right challenge – and weirdly, rowing an ocean is actually something you can pick up reasonably easily.
It’s not like climbing a very technical mountain where you’ve got to get years of experience behind you; there are many people who have taken to the oceans before, who don’t necessarily have a background in rowing.
We had the confidence that we could learn it, and we’re ready for the challenge – despite having to wait another year to get going.
LUXE: It’s great to see ex and serving Marines supporting The Royal Marines Charity. Why did you choose to support Plastic Oceans UK?
JM: I’ve met so many eco-warriors doing this. It’s really good to see actually. I’ve always been passionate about the environment – not necessarily plastic pollution, but once you start looking into it, you can’t help but divulge into it.
I remember, during my research, getting to the point where I thought, ‘oh wow – this is actually something that we can do something about’.
It’s just about making conscious buying choices. If we can all make those small incremental changes, it’ll make a huge impact, and these are the things we’re trying to teach people.
IC: It’s also been fascinating to learn how much the ocean gives us. Our waters are essential for the planet to operate. We wouldn’t be here without the ocean and the depth of knowledge out there is just incredible.
JM: We’ve literally got the world’s knowledge in our pockets. All we’ve got to do is fire up our phones, acquire some of this information, make sure it’s accurate and then share that knowledge.
Ocean Revival has given us a platform to educate others, and that’s what this is all about. Going forwards, don’t get me wrong – we’re devastated about the delay – but think about how many more people we can inspire between now and then.