Will you be sailing around the Solent this summer? Keep your eye out for a strange looking ocean rowing boat with the ‘Grandads of the Atlantic’ on board….

From their base in Port Solent Marina, Neil Young and Peter Ketley are currently preparing to undertake the ‘world’s toughest rowing race’, the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge, which will see 30 teams attempt to row unassisted 3,000 miles across the Atlantic from the Canary Islands to Antigua.

As former Parachute Regiment soldiers with a 40-year friendship and plenty of tough physical experience on their side, The ‘Grandads of the Atlantic’ have some advantages. However they have never rowed before and neither have any nautical experience.

Both in their sixties, ‘the Grandads’ have no expectations about setting any speed records! However, they will attempt to set a World Record as the oldest pair to achieve this almighty challenge, with a combined age of 123 years old.

Under their ironic team name, ‘Grandads of the Atlantic’ (think Pirates of the Caribbean on a pension), the pair will be will be alone at sea for approximately 50 days facing salt rashes, sleep deprivation and huge waves. They will row for 24 hours a day in two-hour shifts and will survive using freeze-dried ration packs and a desalinating water maker. Their boat ‘Pegasus’ is a specialist ocean rowing boat, fitted with emergency survival equipment, satellite comms and two small sealed cabins if a storm hits.

They will start from La Gomera on 12 December and expect to reach Antigua by the end of January 2019.

So how are they preparing for this colossal challenge?

Grandad Peter explains:  “Our Parachute Regiment training and experience taught us how far we can push our bodies – although the old bones definitely complain more these days! We are focusing on strength training, staying supple and generally trying to get into the best shape we can.”

Grandad Neil explains the importance of ‘boat time’: We’ve been told by everyone ‘in the know’ that there is no replacement for time spent in the boat. We’ve worked really hard to raise the funds to buy a boat quickly – she was finished last week so now we’ll be out on her as much as possible around the Solent and Portsmouth Harbour, before she is shipped to La Gomera in November.

The news of the Grandad’s incredible endeavour is starting to spread. They recently received a message of support from five-times Olympic gold medallist, Sir Steve Redgrave; “Good luck with your epic journey as you take part in the 2018 Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge to row 3,000 miles unassisted across the Atlantic and whilst doing so undertaking to raise £250k for some fantastic well-deserved charities.

“Your family and friends must be so proud of you both.  I wish you both the very best and hope very much you achieve your goals. With your military background I have no doubt you will. It will get tough, but that’s when the tough get going. This will be a trip to remember!!  All the best”

If anyone can advise two ‘vintage’ Paras how to row across the Atlantic, it’s Sir Chay Blyth, creator of the Atlantic Challenge and himself a former Paratrooper. The ‘Grandads of the Atlantic’ were delighted to spend some time chatting with the great man himself, who had this to say about their challenge: “Para’s share a common bond,  that of determination, tenacity, discipline and courage. This tells me that Neil and Peter already have the qualities to succeed. They have my total support in their endeavour to complete this new challenge of theirs. I will be following their progress closely on their Atlantic adventure.”

Retired Chief of the General Staff, General Sir Mike Jackson GCB CBE DSO DL, has also added his support, “These two airborne warriors served with me as young men and I am delighted to see that age hasn’t mellowed their determined spirit one bit! I have no doubt they will succeed against any odds and I will be supporting them all the way.”

The Grandads are hoping to raise £250k for three charities, Royal British Legion Industries, Dreams Come True and Support Our Paras.  If you would like to get behind the Grandads, please follow their Facebook page or visit their  website https://www.grandadsoftheatlantic.com


The Grandads are raising money for three charities close to their hearts:  

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