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Ross’ blog

Ross has started writing a blog for our chosen charity Reverse Rett to keep everyone involved with the charity up to date on our progress. There’s a copy of his first entry below but you can also stay up to date with the blog on the My Challenge of a Lifetime section of the Reverse Rett website.

My Challenge of a Lifetime

By Ross McKinney

Ross (2nd left) and the Five in a Row team

Four years ago, and nearing the age of 40, I took up rowing for the first time. I never rowed at. University or even gave it much thought in my youth, apart from maybe a pootle around a duckpond on holiday. Living by the sea in North Berwick is a blessing and there are loads of amazing opportunities to get out on the water. After my first outing in a St Ayles skiff (a four-oared wooden rowing boat), I was hooked. What started as the odd social row soon became competitive training, racing at regattas and even taking home a bronze medal from the Skiffie World Championships.

Fast forward four years and I am now part of a 5-man crew aiming to race across the Atlantic Ocean!

Five In A Row has entered the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge and will be competing in the 2021 race from the Canary Islands to Antigua. It is 3000 miles across the ocean and we will be racing 24/7 for 5-6 weeks. It is going to be a huge physical challenge and is also going to test our mental strength not to mention our friendship, as we will be living in extremely close proximity! What keeps my focus is that my personal challenge is nothing compared to what my daughter, Eliza, has to go through every day. If I ever need inspiration at sea, it will be her strength to fight Rett Syndrome that keeps me going.

Ross and Eliza

Four of our crew (Duncan, Ian, Clive and myself) are based in North Berwick and actively involved in the local community and the Scottish coastal rowing scene. Fraser is based in Perthshire, many miles from the sea, but is a keen adventurer and sportsman. During the long days of lockdown, we have had the welcome distraction of planning for the event.


The race does not start until December 2021, but our campaign is already underway! There is a huge amount of preparation – from sourcing a
boat, kitting out the boat, planning our meals, working out our rowing schedule, completing safety courses…..and of course lots of physical training!

The other major challenge is how we are going to fund all of this and get us to the start line, as well as raising as much as we possibly can for Reverse
Rett! My emotions going into this campaign have been all over the place, from excitement at the challenge ahead, fear as to what the ocean may throw at us and not to mention what the impact of Covid-19 may mean for our plans.

It is also an incredibly selfish adventure to take on, as it will mean leaving Catherine, our four young children and two dogs for about two months (and overChristmas!). In fact it was Catherine who told me to go for it in the end and has been incredibly supportive of the whole venture – for that I am very lucky! I’m also extremely proud to be able to support Reverse Rett. The Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge attracts a huge following and media coverage, so I am very keen that we can use this to raise awareness of the charity and the amazing work that they do.

We have a huge range of both corporate and personal sponsorship options for anybody who would like to support us, including becoming a “stowaway” on our boat for £250 and having your name or even your child’s name on the inside of our boat, so they can accompany us across the Atlantic!

We are looking to establish regional ambassadors to support our campaign and help our fundraising for Reverse Rett. If you think you could help with contacts or fundraising, please get in touch via ross@fiveinarow.co.uk or via social media.

You can follow our progress on Instagram @five.row and Facebook and find out more by visiting our website

It might all be the start of a midlife crisis, but you only live once!