Four friends take on Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge for The Legion

Four friends from Yorkshire will spend Christmas in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean as they battle the elements and race to win the epic 3,000-mile Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge.

RAF Chief Technician Fraser Mowlem, Former Royal Marine Glyn Sadler, Ex-Royal Engineer Duncan Roy and civilian Will Quarmby will travel 3,000 nautical miles across the Atlantic Ocean from the Canary Islands to Antigua.

The Row4Victory team are not only racing to win but also to raise money for their chosen charities The Legion and Soldier On!

“This has been two years in the making," Duncan Roy tells us.

"Our campaign started two years ago when we all got together and decided to take on this challenge. 

“We’ve been drumming up support, getting our sponsors on board, getting the boat, training and preparing for this expedition.”

Team Row4Victory: (Left to Right) Duncan Roy, Will Quarmby, Fraser Mowlam, Glyn Sadler.


Setting off from La Gomera, Canary Islands on the 12th of December the team will spend anywhere between 35-70 days at sea as they race to cross the finish line first.

“There’s 28 different boats racing in the fleet this year. There’s soloists, pairs, trios, fours and fives but the four-man team is the most competitive category and there’s 15 teams in it,” Duncan says.

“We’re hoping to win the entire race, not just our category, we want to be at the front from the start and finish at the front. Start strong, finish strong.”

The team getting some practice in as part of their gruelling training regime.Credit Gary Lawson Photography

It could take the team anywhere between 35 and 70 days to reach the finish line, but they’re hoping to do it in less than 40 days.

“We’re aiming to do it in less 40 days, but it really depends on conditions out there.

“We can only row with conditions we’ve got, so timing wise it’s almost irrelevant how long it takes, it’s just the fact that we want to win the race and obviously do it as quickly as possible.

“But it depends on the conditions and the weather we get, which will dictate how quickly that will be.”

The team working hard to raise funds for the campaign. Credit: Row4Victory

Whilst most of us will be tucking into our turkey the team will face challenging conditions; from 40ft waves and torrential rain to blistering sun.

“The conditions can change hour by hour, you’re just at the mercy of the elements,” Duncan says.

“There’ll be 40ft waves, breaking waves, torrential rain as well as blistering sun. Out in the mid ocean it’s a really humbling place to be.”

Duncan explained that a lot of people ask them why the race takes place in the winter in the face of such conditions.

“This time of year you’re out of hurricane season which goes on from March to October so you’ve got a window there,” Former Royal Marine Glyn Sadler explains.

“At this time of year all the trade winds and currents are starting to pick up in that direction so we’re taking advantage of that during the crossing."

Team Row4Victory out training ahead of the challenge. Credit Gary Lawson Photography

The crossing will be relentless as the team row in pairs in two hour shifts around the clock as Skipper Will Quarmby explained.

“Taking advantage of that and also to make it across successfully as a fours team the general pattern for all of us will be two hours on and two hours off,” he says.

“So two hours rowing, get off the oars, swap over as quickly as possible, get some food down you, hydrate, a quick clean and then try and get maybe an hour and a half’s sleep. Then you’ll get woken up for another two hours rowing.”  

Duncan also explains that as well as getting some much needed food and rest, this time is for boat admin and cleaning.

“You’ll also do your comms check, navigation check, boat admin, cleaning. It’s a pretty relentless routine,” he says.

“I think where we’re going to be successful is the fact that we’re a close knit team, we’re a proven team and we work well together.”

Meet the team

“This is an amazing bunch, Duncan says. And the fact that we have tri-service representation in such a small team I think it’s quite rare.”

“To get someone from the Army, someone from the Navy and someone from the RAF, it was just the obvious choice to do it for the Royal British Legion.”

“And 100 years since the end of the First World War…it’s just quite special really.”

Will Quarmby - Team Skipper

Team Skipper and civilian member of the team, Will Quarmby is by day a landscape designer and was inspired to get involved in the race after the 2016 world record winning team the Yorkshire Mums gave a talk at his daughters school.

“The Yorkshire mum’s had just been into my daughters school and given a talk and the girls had come home super inspired and couldn’t believe what they’d achieved. I thought wow if we could even get a little bit of that, then that would be amazing.”

“The challenge offers me an opportunity to push my mental and physical limits, perhaps providing some insight into what it’s like for service men and women to serve in the most dangerous conditions, away from their family and friends.”

Fraser Mowlem - Equipment and Nutrition 

RAF Chief Technician Fraser Mowlem has served for 19 years and has undertaken four tours of Afghanistan in support of Chinook Helicopters and one with Harrier Force on Op Veritas.

Fraser said after receiving the call from friend Will he jumped at the chance to be involved. 

“I got a phone call out of the blue asking me to row across the Atlantic Ocean. It’s not something I had come across, and I had no previous experience or knowledge of it, so to be asked by a mate of mine to do something this massive with him I was blown away.” 

“I took a couple of minutes to think it through, learn a little bit more about it, and as soon as I knew what it actually entailed I bit his hand off.” 

Glyn Sadler - Communications and Medical

Former Royal Marines Commando Glyn served in two tours of Afghanistan on Operations Veritas and Herrick as well as one tour of Iraq on Operation Telic. 

Having trained at CrossFit and lived in the same village as Duncan, Glyn also jumped at the chance to be involved.

“It was a definite yes, I think everybody had seen Ben Fogle and James Cracknell a few years ago and that planted a small seed in my mind.

 “That sort of thing appeals to me that there’s more people that have climbed Everest, and been to space, than have rowed an ocean. So you’d be part of an elite and that appeals to me and my sense of adventure. I was thrilled to jump on board.”

Duncan Roy - Navigation and Logistics

This isn’t the first time that ex-Royal Engineer Duncan Roy will cross the Atlantic. After being head hunted by another team whilst training, Duncan rowed across the Atlantic in December last year. Despite being plagued by technical issues from the start, and having to make two stops, the final leg of the race earned them two Guinness World Records.

Duncan discovered rowing as part of his rehabilitation after suffering a ‘career changing’ injury which led him to be medially discharged from the Army. Fittingly, he served his last day in service in the middle of the Atlantic in February of this year. 

“I served my last day in the service mid-Atlantic on the row. 

“We stopped rowing, had a little bottle of port and toasted the fact that it was my last day in the military, I’ll never forget that.”

“I am now really looking forward to bringing the skills and experiences I have gained to Team Row4Victory. We have an extremely strong team and a very fast boat, we have every chance of winning the Talisker Whiskey Atlantic Challenge 2018.”

Team Row4Victory are hoping to raise £100,000 and have so far have raised over £35,000. To donate to the team visit their website or their JustGiving page or text 70070 with the code ROWV59 followed by £1, £2, £3, £4, £5 or £10.

During the race you can also track the team as the embark on their incredible journey using the Yellow Brick tracking app which updates their location every four hours.

Simply download the ‘YB Races’ App from the App Store and search for the ‘Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge 2018’ and you can track the team.