Ocean Valour

Two Plymouth University marine graduates have embarked on a year-long training programme in a bid to beat a century-old rowing record.

Tom Rainey and Sam Coombs will be pushing themselves to the limit in May next year when they team up as ‘Ocean Valour’ to cross the Atlantic from New York to Salcombe in a specialist ocean rowing boat.

Tom and Sam will be aiming to beat the 114-year-old record set in 1896 by two Norwegians, George Harbo and Frank Samuelsen, who made the journey in 55 days. The Ocean Exploration and Marine Biology graduates will also be raising money for the Brain Tumour Charity. Tom said:

“Sam and I were looking for a way to raise money for a charity which has a very personal meaning to me having recently lost my father. It didn’t take much thinking to agree on a challenge at sea, it's where we know best. I can't wait to get stuck in."

Growing up on or around the sea, the pair can already lay claim to an impressive list of skills and achievements from being part of the British Sailing Team, to receiving the Raymarine Young Sailor of the Year award presented by Her Royal Highness, Princess Anne. But as Sam explains, rowing across the Atlantic will be their sternest test yet – and they’re working on both the physical and the navigational aspects in order that they’ll be ship-shape to meet the challenge.

“We’re very grateful Plymouth University has supported us by putting us on the RYA Yachtmaster and Meteorology training courses. These will teach us how to navigate using the stars, how to plan and track our passages, read the currents and make best use of the weather systems to get us home safely.” 

The boys have welcomed further support and sponsorship new and old to get the project off the ground, from building the vessel to providing essential kit and supplies for the journey ahead. They have also set up a dedicated website inviting people to buy a piece of the boat or follow them on their voyage.

They will be in Plymouth until 18 September.