Four British Army Officers are to take on one of the most challenging expeditions on the planet – rowing across the Pacific Ocean.
This month the Atlantic Campaigns ‘Pacific Challenge’ will see them row 2800 miles across the world’s largest and deepest ocean. They will start in Monterey, California and finish in Kauai, known as the ‘Garden Isle’ of Hawaii.
The four-man crew from The Royal Yorkshire Regiment consists of Major Simon Farley and Captains Chris Bailey, Chris Barnes and Samuel Morris. They are carrying out final checks at the starting point and making sure their supplies and equipment are all ship-shape.
On Monday 12 June the team will row out into the North Pacific Ocean from the United States west coast for the start of the race. Major Simon Farley is the skipper and it was his love for adventure and challenges that led the team to the start line. The Pacific Challenge is daunting and the team can expect to battle ocean storms, temperatures soaring to 35 deg C (95 deg F) and an abundance of large marine life. Major Farley said: “It’s a huge undertaking and, without doubt, the biggest adventure any of us have ever faced. It’s going to be physically gruelling and we will be sleep deprived at times. It will also have boring times too, so we are going to have to dig deep. However, our team has a strong bond and we will work together.”
For the duration of the race, home will be a 7.5-metre-long carbon fibre rowing boat fitted with two cabins. Measuring 1.219 metres (4ft) at its widest point, it is equipped with everything they need to survive the journey unsupported, including food, safety equipment and a first aid kit.
Although this is the first ocean-going trip for the team, it will be the second for the boat – ‘Rosie’. ‘Rosie’ brought another British Army team safely home after undertaking the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge in 2021.
Captain Chris Barnes will take on the roles of medic, fixer and water-maker. “We are going to be out there at the mercy of mother nature, but we have prepared as much as we can,” he said. “Should the worse happen and we capsize, the boat is self-righting. We have been given plenty of advice from Lieutenant Colonel Richard Hall who skippered the team that successfully rowed the Atlantic Ocean in 2019 in a similar boat. We just want to get on and do it now.
“I joined the Army in 2002 because I wanted to be an infantryman – that was my sole focus. However, once you join up you realise there is so much more you can do. If as a young 17-year-old from Rotherham, you’d told me that I would end up being an Army Officer getting ready to sail across the Pacific Ocean, I would never have believed you.”
The team will row in pairs in two-hour shifts and expect to be rowing an average of 65-miles each day. When they are not rowing, they will be sleeping, filling out the logbooks or conducting equipment checks.
They will all have to consume between 5000 – 7000 calories per day – the bulk of which will be in the form of dehydrated food rations. Additional calories will come from snack packs full of protein bars, nuts and dried fruit.
They hope to finish the challenge in 45-days and will be raising money for three charities that mean a lot to them – Young Minds, Give Them A Sporting Chance and St Michaels Hospice in Hereford.
If the team completes The Pacific Challenge, the Regiment will be the only Regiment in the British Army to have crossed both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. In 2006 four fellow members of the Regiment spent 76 days crossing the Atlantic Ocean.