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Student Callum Gathercole rows into the history books

Callum Gathercole has become the youngest person to row across an ocean solo.

After a tough 58 days at sea, battling the elements on his own as he rowed 3,000 nautical miles, University of Bristol student Callum Gathercole has become the youngest person to row across an ocean solo.

The 20-year-old has just completed the Talisker Whiskey Atlantic Challenge - dubbed the 'world's toughest endurance race' - in 58 days, 15 hours and 15 minutes.

He overcame tropical storms, 40ft waves, sleep deprivation, seasickness and excruciating body sores to complete the tough challenge and raise £230,000 in memory of his father Clive who died from a brain tumour in 2012.

The race began in the Canary Islands on 20 December, finishing 3,000 nautical miles away in Antigua. The previous record holder was 22-years-old.
Callum said: “It feels amazing now to be in Antigua. There were definitely some difficult days rowing where you knew you had to keep going in tough conditions if you wanted to continue making progress, but it was also a brilliant challenge that I thoroughly enjoyed taking on.”

Along the way he has faced headwinds that forced him to put down his sea-anchor for two days, a cargo ship which seemed not to notice him until the last moment, a leak which meant at one stage he was carrying an extra 150 kg of water, and – worst of all – his headphones breaking so that he couldn’t listen to his music while he rowed.

Spurring him on was the thought of raising money in memory of his father. The £230,000 raised to-date will be split between Brain Tumour Research, the Princess Alice Hospice and BRACE Alzheimer's Research.

Callum, who’s taking a year out from his Aerospace Engineering degree, said: "This is certainly the toughest thing I have done in my life, but I’m proud to have supported these great charities and hope it will make a difference to people’s lives and to their families.”

Callum has been rowing since the age of nine and is part of the University of Bristol Boat Club, recently completing a 100,000 metre row in just seven hours to create a new under-19s lightweight world record.

Sam Browning, Captain of Bristol University Boat Club said: “Callum is the most determined individual I've ever met.  He trained harder and pushed himself further than any other athlete whilst also being incredibly likeable, laid back and great fun to be around. His Atlantic row is a testament to his grit and attitude, and Bristol Rowing is incredibly proud of him.”

Fellow University of Bristol Boat Club member Freddie Wright recently set the record, alongside best friend Jack Galsworthy, for the youngest pair to row the Atlantic.

  • Date published: 22nd February 2016

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