UAE resident joins teammates to row Atlantic Ocean to raise environmental awareness – News

The team managed to raise around Dh500,000 to donate to marine conservation organizations and plastic-focused charities.

Published: Tue, Jan 25, 2022, 1:27 PM

Last update: Tue, Jan 25, 2022, 10:32 PM

A resident of the United Arab Emirates traveled 3,000 nautical miles across the Atlantic Ocean with two UK-based teammates during a 38-day, 13-minute trip to raise awareness about ocean plastic pollution.

Competing in the 2021 Talisker Whiskey Atlantic Challenge, the Peninsula team made up of British nationals Toby Kendall, 36, Samuel Morris, 38 and William Drew, 37, set out from La Gomera, the second smallest island in Spain’s Canary Islands, the December 12. , 2021. After a rigorous non-stop argument, the trio arrived at Nelson’s Dockyard in Antigua on January 19, 2021.

Throughout the trip, the team managed to raise around Dh500,000 to be donated to marine conservation organizations and plastic-focused charities.

Speaking to Khaleej Times from Antigua, Morris said: ‘The main objective behind such a rigorous challenge was to raise awareness of the ever-increasing volume of plastics polluting the world’s oceans and the damage it is causing to our environment’ .

Morris, a British Chartered Surveyor who has resided in the United Arab Emirates for 13 years, noted that the choice of NGOs aimed to tackle three main areas: cleaning up beaches, oceans and rivers, education on responsible use of plastic at all levels and changing government policies around the world.

Despite being dubbed the toughest line in the world, the challenge gave the trio the opportunity to realize their passion for marine conservation, their endless quest for adventure and their desire to push the limits of endurance. physical.

Morris, who had lost 11kg during the 38-day journey, described the challenge as a “magical and surreal experience”.

“We experienced nature in a way that we had never experienced before. We got close to whales, sharks, sea turtles and birds. The sea shone at sunrise in a spectacle that could never be seen from land,” Morris described.

Making a difference for the environment was the main driver for the team to take part in the ultimate test for body and soul.

Besides physical strength, the trio had to overcome a long list of mental challenges, including sleep deprivation, stress, hallucinations and hunger.

Two years of preparation

Accustomed to fitness and sport, the three athletes embarked on intensive physical and mental training which began two years before the challenge.

Morris, an ultra-endurance athlete, said “to achieve something great in life, you have to make sacrifices.”

For the past two years, Morris and his teammates started their mornings at 5 a.m. every day with a strict routine that involved cardio training in the morning and gym and weightlifting training in the evening.

“You can physically adapt to challenges because it’s amazing what the human body is capable of, but the mind needs great effort to get used to dealing with anxiety, fear and sleep deprivation, while working with two other people,” Morris noted.

The mental training involved the trio coming together via online meetings every two weeks to share their hopes, desires and fears, while brainstorming all the possible crisis scenarios that may arise on the boat.

“We had to understand each other’s personalities and share what we liked and disliked about each other. We played out scenarios on how to deal with arguments that break out on the boat and developed ways to deal with stress.

He added: “Most importantly, we had to train our minds to identify thoughts and deal with them, especially as we were going to be in mentally stressful situations.”

The team’s training routine was designed and overseen by Tom Kelly, who was part of an ocean rowing team that crossed the Indian Ocean unassisted in 2011.

The trio also had to stock the boat with enough food and nutrition to last up to 60 days. To meet the challenge, they had to complete a survival course at sea, in addition to the mandatory hours on a boat.

Team work

After passing the required security checks for the boat, the trio left La Gomera with split duties to row two hours with a one hour break for 12 hours. At night, each member would take the rank so that the other members would have three hours of sleep. To achieve optimal speed, the shifting pattern had to strike the right balance between effort, nutrition and recovery, Morris noted.

The hardest parts were the hallucinations from lack of sleep and the giant evening waves that reached six meters (19.7 feet) high.

“At one point I saw spiders and snakes coming out of the sea and an Airbus A380 flying overhead, but I learned it was all unreal,” Morris said.


Combined with the level of personal success the team has experienced, Morris said the trio ended the argument with a stronger bond of friendship.

“We were all united to serve a cause we are passionate about. At the same time, we supported each other in overcoming difficult challenges to prove to each other that there is nothing we can do,” he said.