Screen Shot 2015-10-15 at 13.24.30Northumbria Police Officer, Sean McGuigan and Basingstoke Truck Driver, Andy Warner are making final preparations before they set off on the world’s toughest rowing race –The Taliska Whiskey Atlantic Challenge – which will see them row 3000 miles across the Atlantic from La Gomera to Antigua.

Raising money for St Clares Hospice and the North East Alzheimers Society the pair will set off on their estimated  50 – 60 day journey on the 15th December and will row a gruelling 24 hours a day between them in 2 hour shifts, competing against 20 other crews. Both working full time, the pair are currently training between 2 – 3 hours a day but their preparation plans at the moment have shifted primarily to the boat.

“Preparation at the moment is all about the boat. We have a lot of equipment and supplies that need to be stored for the duration of the challenge so we’re busy getting the boat stocked up now. We’re also busy gathering expertise on how to manage the boat – it will only be the two of us so it’s imperative we know what to do if something goes wrong”, explained Sean.

The boat had been in the North East up until last week but has now been transported to Basingstoke to assist with fundraising events in Andy’s hometown. It will then be shipped to the challenge start point of La Gomera, in the Canary Islands, at the end of this month. The pair have a little way to go to reach their fundraising target but they certainly haven’t been short of help and support. The challenge has been sponsored by a number of local businesses including two main sponsors – Thrift Energy and DC Iron – both based in Newcastle.

“Thrift Energy’s support came along just at the right time” said Sean.  “It helped us buy a lot of kit for the boat and really took the pressure off, allowing us to concentrate on our training – they’ve been a huge help. DC Iron also purchased the Men of Iron boat for us which was fantastic”.

Andy and Sean are looking to raise another £7000 to reach the £100,000 target and have a number of fundraising events in place to do that. A formal ‘send off’ dinner is being held on Friday 16th October  at Blaydon Rugby Club to raise funds. The night will include a live band, prizes, three course meal and will include an appearance and talk from ex Newcastle footballer Malcolm – Supermac – Macdonald.

“The support we’ve received to raise money for our chosen charity’s as well as buy the kit and equipment necessary to do the challenge has been amazing”, said Sean. “There’s not much more we need for the boat but we now need an extra push on funds to assist with our shipping fees to get the boat down to La Gomera. We’re hoping the formal dinner will help secure this as well as a Crowd Funder page that we’ve established this week. “

Sean has been training extensively for the past year and Andy the past 6 months due to being a  replacement for Seans original partner, Paul Snowdon, who was forced to pull out because of injury. It’s been a journey which has seen Sean break the continuous row world record where he and friend, Ian Spedding, rowed indoor continuously for 30.5 hours – breaking the previous record by 30 minutes. Although compared to what lies ahead this seems like a walk in the park.

“Obviously it’s going to be extremely tough and we’re going to be facing problems such as hunger, sea sickness and tough weather conditions but in all honesty we can’t wait to get started. I’m over the moon with our preparation, we’re feeling strong and ready to go”, said Andy.

Derek Campbell, Director at Thrift Energy – sponsor of the challenge – commented “We were delighted to support Sean and Andy’ Atlantic Challenge and would encourage other funders to get on board and support this very extremely worthwhile challenge”.

If anybody would like to offer their support, please visit the challenges Crowdfunder page at http://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/thriftenergyatlanticchallenge . Sean and Andy also have a website where they post regular progress updates as well as offering a place for business sponsorship requests to be made and anybody interested in buying tickets for the formal send-off dinner –  http://www.northeastatlanticchallenge.co.uk/.