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HomeFarmlifeMidlands farmers put together to row the Atlantic for charity

Midlands farmers put together to row the Atlantic for charity

With regards to having a mid-life disaster, most individuals decide to affix a health club or purchase a Harley Davidson.

Not so for Midlands farmers Rod Adlington and Man Minshull – they get drunk at a rugby worldwide and resolve to row throughout the Atlantic.

See additionally: Farmer’s daughter units report with charity Atlantic crossing

“Regardless of being born in Coventry, I’ve at all times liked crusing and the ocean, and I’ve at all times wished to do one thing actually huge,” says Rod, 57, whose day job is rising seasonal turkeys and working a free-range rooster enterprise.

“I’ve not been correctly match for a few years, so wished to do one thing about that too, and now that my kids are much less dependent, what higher time to fulfil that dream?”

Arable farmer Man, 53, additionally admits to a way of “grabbing the chance whilst you nonetheless can”.

“I was a eager rugby participant, however that has slipped in current occasions, and I too wished to get in form once more,” he says.

“A bunch of us went to see the Eire-England sport in Dublin in March and Rod was speaking concerning the row throughout the Atlantic. After about six pints of Guinness, it appeared like a good suggestion…”

Placing the plan into follow was the subsequent step – and discovering the suitable boat the primary actual problem.

“There will not be too many boats obtainable – even for second-hand gear,” says Rod. “With the recognition of ocean rowing rising, boats are sometimes bought two or three years prematurely of a selected crossing.”

A fortunate break by means of a contact on LinkedIn one night was what it took to discover a appropriate vessel – Mrs Nelson – a 28-footer with three rowing positions, a small ahead cabin and a good smaller aft cabin, which was secured for £40,000.

All that was wanted now have been two further crew members and an appropriate occasion to affix within the enjoyable.

The primary of those got here by way of an web search within the type of Alex Perry, a serving paratrooper, and Ryan Davin, an Irish health fanatic with quite a few mad-cap, bodily challenges underneath his belt.

And the occasion? The Atlantic Sprint – a model new six-week race to Antigua, setting off from Lanzarote in early January 2024.

The coaching

Guy rowing

Man Minshull © MAG/Philip Clarke

Coaching kicked off early, in April – with 3,000 miles of Atlantic ocean forward of them, there was no time to waste.

“Now we have no rowing expertise, so the very first thing was to purchase a few rowing machines,” says Rod. “These have fashioned the premise of our health coaching, accounting for 2 hours a day, 5 occasions per week.

“We’re additionally hitting the weights, which we do 3 times per week with a weight coaching coach, and we’re including in a little bit of biking.”

However whereas gym-work will help with primary health, it’s no alternative for the true factor, and the crew have been grabbing no matter alternatives they will to achieve expertise out on the water.

They’ve additionally employed the providers of an expert rowing coach, Gus Barton, who has accomplished 4 Atlantic crossings and is ready to advise on approach in addition to health.

Their most up-to-date outing, from Christchurch Harbour in Dorset to the Isle of Wight, Poole Harbour and again once more, noticed them cowl 76 miles in 24 hours, rowing by means of the evening in mercifully calm situations.

“The trick is to row at a tempo that retains the guts fee ticking over at between 90 and 120 beats a minute,” says Rod.

“At that tempo we will probably be burning off fats moderately than muscle. It’s all about longevity and making our meals provides final. Push too laborious and it’ll solely be just a few weeks earlier than you break.”

The farming

Becoming in coaching with working two farming companies has been a problem throughout a sometimes busy summer season.

Rod is a third-generation turkey producer based mostly in Balsall Frequent, in Warwickshire, the place he rears about 10,000 white and bronze birds every season, saved in massive, spacious barns, with feed and bedding sourced from native producers.

The birds are slaughtered, hung and processed at Adlington’s personal manufacturing facility every December, prepared for distribution to on-line prospects and native butchers, in addition to farmgate gross sales.

The opposite strand to the enterprise is the free-range rooster enterprise, with Hubbard 787 birds reared underneath contract in Kent, and returned to Adlington’s for additional processing, together with cooking and smoking, underneath the English Label model.

“We purchased what was then the ‘Label Anglais’ farming and distribution enterprise in 2016 – which had been set as much as mimic the ‘Label Rouge’ poultry model in France,” says Rod.

“Now we have saved the high-welfare ideas, however modified the identify and are actually producing 200,000 birds a yr – principally bought as recent, entire birds to catering butchers, but additionally ending up in top-end shops like Harrods and Harvey Nichols.”

Arable farming

Man’s background is a bit of completely different, as a primarily arable farmer based mostly in Kenilworth, additionally in Warwickshire.

“We at the moment farm about 570 acres, throughout 5 models, although this has gone down by round 60 acres due to the delight that’s HS2,” he says. “A few of the land is owned and a few is on a contract farming settlement.”

The arable floor is at the moment run on a four-year rotation – two years of winter wheat, one yr barley and one yr beans.

“I do all of the work myself, besides at harvest, when my daughters chip in with a little bit of grain carting,” says Man, who additionally owns a wellington boot enterprise, Gumleaf Boots.

The trans-Atlantic row in January works nicely for each males. For arable farmer Man, winter time is comparatively quiet anyway, and for turkey farmer Rod, the Christmas rush will probably be over.

“Most trans-Atlantic occasions, such because the Talisker Whiskey Atlantic Problem, occur in December, which is a no-no for me,” says Rod. “However the Atlantic Sprint in January suits in nicely with the farming calendar.”

The concern issue

capsize drill

© MAG/Philip Clarke

Being away from the farm for therefore lengthy is a little bit of a priority – however there will probably be larger issues to fret about as soon as they solid off in January and level the boat west.

Crippling sea illness and extreme blisters rank pretty excessive among the many issues that would go incorrect, as do potential assaults by orcas or marlin, which have been identified to puncture a ship.

However for Rod, the best concern is the rogue wave, “that standing 60ft wall of water that comes out of nowhere and may flip a ship over, finish to finish”.

That prospect was introduced into sharp deal with a current coaching outing within the Irish Sea.

“It was settled sufficient after we set off, however as darkness fell, the wind received up and the swell grew to 3 or 4 metres.

“It was laborious to maintain rowing. It was the primary time I’ve ever heard waves really roar.”

Man too is cautious of the facility of the ocean, however can also be involved concerning the bodily toll. “My fear is that if the physique doesn’t maintain up, three or 4 weeks in, and also you begin to let your staff mates down.”

And what are they trying ahead to? “Simply being on the market, seeing the vastness of the ocean, surrounded by nature, the simplicity of all of it, whereas fulfilling a private problem,” says Rod.

“It’s the end line for me, and that rum cocktail after we get to Antigua,” says Man. “That, and the sense of feat, one thing to look again on in later life.”

Charity fundraising


Barney © Rod Adlington

The true motive for rowing throughout the Atlantic is to increase cash for charity – in reminiscence of Rod’s son Barney who would have been 21 this yr, however whose life was tragically taken away by meningitis when he was simply three years previous.

“It was on Saturday 19 March 2005 that Barney first complained of a headache,” Rod remembers.

“Lower than 24 hours later, and regardless of the undivided consideration of the very best medical groups, he had died from meningitis.”

Since then, Rod and his spouse Anna have taken on quite a few challenges and occasions to boost appreciable sums for related charities – together with sporting occasions, endurance challenges, auctions and an enormous barn dance referred to as Barney’s Bash.

Rod steering

Rod Adlington © MAG/Philip Clarke

However rowing throughout the Atlantic is the massive one, the journey of a lifetime, and a chance to boost vital sums for Meningitis Now and Get Forward, a charity that helps folks with head and neck cancers. 

The journey is being totally self-funded – at an estimated value of £100,000 – so each penny donated will discover its approach to one of many charities being supported.

Calling themselves The Brightsides, after the track Mr Brightside by The Killers, which was performed at Barney’s memorial service, the staff have set an formidable goal of £250,000, so each contribution is essential and far appreciated.

To search out out extra concerning the voyage and to donate, go to 

Farmers Weekly is proud to be a media companion and can quickly have our emblem on the aspect of the boat.

The numbers

  • 3,000 miles from Lanzarote to Antigua
  • 6 weeks at sea (approx)
  • 1.5m oar strokes (approx)
  • 24 hours a day rowing, (two on, two off)
  • 8,000 energy burned each day
  • 90 minutes most sleep
  • 20% anticipated body weight loss


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