01 February 2019

Atlantic Discovery; a Team of Hundreds

By Development and Alumni Relations Team

On Tuesday 22 January 2019, Royal Holloway alumni Isaac Kenyon (BSc Petroleum Geology 2015 and MSc Petroleum Geoscience 2016), Benjamin Ajayi-Obe (MSci Computer Science 2015), Jack Hopkins (BSc Computer Science 2014) and teammate Cameron Parker rowed into English Harbour, Antigua, to complete the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge in sixth place; a time of 40 days, 23 hours and 33 minutes.

It took the four men almost 1,000 hours rowing, nearly 1 million calories, 700 litres of water, 52,000 watts of solar power, unimaginable inner strength and a large dose of humour to row the 3,000 nautical miles, unsupported, from the Canaries to the Caribbean island of Antigua.

They were given an emotional, rousing welcome from their families, friends and the “green team” – a fantastic group of stakeholders from our platinum sponsor Nagico Insurances, on what was undoubtedly the most euphoric moment of all of our lives.

Cameron said that rowing into the harbour to the horns of the super yachts, the cheers, whistles and screams was incredible.

“Isaac was on steering duty so he was facing the crowd when we came in. We were all able to watch his expression mirroring the amazing sight before him and we all felt a surge of indescribable emotion and pride at what the Atlantic Discovery team had achieved together. And, when I say Atlantic Discovery, I don’t mean a team of four rowing an ocean. Atlantic Discovery is a team of hundreds.”

Our heartfelt gratitude

Isaac tried to put into words what he and Cam, Ben and Jack felt about the tremendous, selfless support shown by everyone.

“Our families, our friends, our sponsors, colleagues, supporters, the charity organisations, the media and people we’ve met along the way, have all given a part of themselves to our endeavour. We spent a lot of time talking on our journey about the inspiring and encouraging contributions – in so many forms – that have been made since we started this journey. Everyone who learned about what we were doing has done something to help us. We are so privileged to have been the recipients of all this generosity – it’s a gift that will remain with us all for the rest of our lives. Thank you doesn’t even come close to expressing how we are feeling.”

One big family

Nagico’s Chairman Imran McSood Amjad greeted the team as they stepped off the boat: “We are very proud to be associated with Atlantic Discovery. These men have embraced the extreme hardships they have faced at sea and found the strength to triumph. Their resilience and teamwork is commendable – I consider Ben, Cam, Isaac and Jack to be part of the Nagico family.”

The cause

The team did the row to raise awareness and £60K (USD 80K) for Multiple Sclerosis (MS), which affects 2.5 million people worldwide.  Ben’s mother Rose is the figurehead of the fundraising campaign with hashtag #row4rose and was on the quayside to greet the team.

Ben talked about how humbled he was by how much had been raised while they were at sea.

“Penny has been updating us with every name and donation amount made throughout the row. But I had no idea how much had been raised in total and I’m deeply grateful for the wonderful donations made to our cause.

“I know increasing awareness of this condition is difficult to measure, but so many people have come forward to share their personal stories, I hope what we have done has made a difference to understanding this secret disease.

“Finishing this race means our charities will receive extra promised donations from the Hiscox Foundation, Lyme Bay Consulting and a personal donation from Kyria Ali, Group Chief Strategy and Development Officer and the staff of Nagico Insurances, boosting funds raised so far to £24K – 40% of our target.”

Jack continues to think of ways to raise more funds for the cause – his next mission is the Marathon Des Sables and he is thinking of ways to motivate the team to join him. Donations will continue to be graciously accepted.

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Watch this space @virtualstowaway

Penny Bird is a professional photographer and writer documenting Atlantic Discovery’s incredible journey.