Oardinary Boys George and Oli take on Atlantic

PITCHED up and down by huge waves, muscles aching fit to burst, and not a spot of land for miles…that’s the Christmas and New Year menu planned by George Randell and Oli Granville.

They will be making the 3,000 nautical-mile journey from La Gomera to Antigua, in the Caribbean, in a rowing boat crammed with dried food for up to 60 days.

With just each other for company, they will defy their chosen team name, The Oardinary Boys.

The soothing sun and gentle breeze of Los Cristianos, lulled them into a blissful state as they swapped plane for ferry to catch up with their fibre-glass boat at the La Gomera port of San Sebastian.

There were relaxed and exchanging good humour, born of a childhood friendship, growing up in London, which continued through studies at Oxford University. But that could change!

“One of our worries is how we will cope with the loneliness of the open sea,” George confided.

“The conversation may get a bit strained between alternating two-hour shifts of us rowing, and limited sleep breaks in the small cabin at one end of the boat.”

Both have experience on the water, but nothing like the annual Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge, which, this year features nine other pairs, six solo rowers, and a female trio, all setting out from La Gomera on Tuesday, 12th December.

Oli, who has sailing experience, describes himself as the navigator, with George, a college rower, as the engine.

They decided on the challenge as long ago as March, after being inspired by meeting Ben Fogle, who completed the race in 2005.

The pair began training during the Isle of Wight’s Cowes Week, at the end of July, and had regular sessions at Burnham-on-Crouch, Essex, rowing to Poole and Chichester.

Oli admitted it had been a steep, learning curve, adding: “Most of our training has been in cold weather, wearing oilskins, and we have made lots of mistakes, trying to pull everything together with sponsors and promoting ourselves.

“And we are thankful to our families, who have been a big team behind us.”

Apart from testing themselves, the boys have two charities to inspire them. Against Malaria Foundation is a charity admired by George, particularly. “They do amazing work and keep their costs so low, they have just two regular staff,” he said.

Oli has personal reasons to favour Alzheimer’s Research UK. “My grandparents suffered and it was something I was aware of as I grew up,” he said.

There are lots of up-front costs for entering the race, but the boys have covered all those, and have already raised £20,000 in sponsorship to share between the charities. But they aim to make much more.

Donations can be made via their website

Now, they are down to intensive training off La Gomera, and the prospect of a trip with minimal radio contact, a support yacht 3-4 days away, and a daily burn of 6,000 calories each.

George, who celebrates his birthday on 30th December, said: “I have a few cards and letters to open, and Oli’s gran has made a cake, complete with icing, which will be a relief.

“Pork scratchings are a good way to reload calories, so we are carrying a lot of them. But I’m sure we’ll soon be sick of the sight of them.”

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