We are a crew of five men from Scotland. For four of us Coastal Rowing has become an all-consuming passion in our lives and we all train and compete with North Berwick Rowing Club in the St Ayles Skiff circuit (in fact we’re all World Championship medalists in a variety of categories). Our fifth man is a real all rounder who loves the outdoors and was the one who finally pushed us over the edge to enter this race. He’s never rowed before but he’ll hopefully pick it up!
More geek than athlete at school, I came late to team sports and joined North Berwick Rowing Club in 2012 after representing the local rugby club in an invitational rowing race alongside Dunc (we won of course). Coastal rowing has become a huge part of my life; it’s taken me to regattas across the UK and abroad, introduced me to an enormous fraternity of like-minded and lovely folk, and I’ve now represented my club in 3 World Championships, medalling in every one. Along with Clive I’m currently a Coastal Rowing double World Champion.
In the few spare moments when I’m not rowing, I’m a graphic designer (working on the marketing for this challenge is keeping me very busy!), small-time sheep farmer and outdoor enthusiast.
Initially the prospect of this challenge filled me with dread, but the further we go down the route of making it happen, the more excited I am. It’s going to be an intense mental and physical test and I can’t wait!
As for the guys I’ll be sharing the boat with, we having experienced amazing highs, horrible lows and the worst that a winter training program can throw at us as a squad, and I have complete faith in my crew-mates’ ability to step up to this challenge. The prospect of sharing a tiny cabin space with a large vegetarian, however, is still pretty daunting.
Father of three young boys and husband to the very understanding Hannah. I’ve always loved leading an active lifestyle and after my knees decided I could no longer play rugby, I found myself drawn towards my local coastal rowing club in North Berwick, Scotland. This ticked a lot of boxes for what I enjoy in sport – camaraderie, challenging myself and training with the purpose of being part of a competitive team. Rowing also has the added benefit of being good for the soul. I have never had an outing on the water that hasn’t lifted my mood and cleared my head. That theory is about to be tested.
For me rowing 3,000 miles across the Atlantic is the biggest challenge I have ever taken on (apart from that time my wife and I had three kids under the age of 2). The TWAC has been on my radar for a long time now and after some bold talk about it with crewmates over a few months, we eventually signed up at the start of 2020 in a pub in Edinburgh. Before committing to this challenge I always thought that my fears would be based around missing family and friends, rough seas, cramped living conditions, mental and physical exhaustion etc, but it turns out my biggest fear now is a failure to make the start line.
Our chosen charity of Reverse Rett is a cause close to my family. Reverse Rett have been incredibly supportive to my crewmate Ross’ family whose daughter Eliza suffers from Rett Syndrome. I’ve known Eliza, who is the same age as my twins, her whole life and to see her struggle so much while her peers go on to develop through all the other stages of childhood has been heart-breaking to watch. It is our hope that we can contribute towards raising cash and awareness to help Reverse Rett in their endeavour to find a cure to such a cruel condition.
Living by the sea in North Berwick, it seemed inevitable that I would eventually try rowing, but I had no idea how enjoyable I would find it and that I would end up signing-up to this challenge with the support and encouragement of my teammates. Living and working as a Company Director and Civil Engineer in Edinburgh, my wife Catherine and I moved out to East Lothian over 12 years ago and we had our four children – Angus, Eliza, Nina and Felix.
Eliza, aged 9, has a rare condition, and I have been actively involved with the charity Reverse Rett since her devastating diagnosis at the age of 3. Although she developed normally as a baby, she started to regress at around 18 months and we found out that she had Rett Syndrome. Doctors told us that she would soon lose the ability to speak and wouldn’t be able to sit up, use her hands or feed herself. She would likely never learn to walk, would develop epilepsy, scoliosis and breathing problems, and would never be able do anything that our other children can so easily do.
Eliza is the bravest person I know. When I see the battles that she has on a daily basis to fulfil a very basic way of life, it makes me feel very grateful for my own abilities and achievements. The charity that we are supporting is very close to my heart and a huge drive for me, as their fundraising goes directly to scientific research into a cure for her condition.
This race is also an amazing opportunity to test my stamina and conquer all that the sea has to throw at me. Four years ago I had never rowed and now I have discovered a new passion. I travelled widely in my 20s and took on several challenges, but I have never done anything like this! When I am out there on the ocean, I will always be able to reach out to my daughter for inspiration and purpose to succeed for my team and for her.
Fraser is still working on his bio!
Husband of Charlotte, father of Angus, Jack and Hector, Professional Services Project Manager at Randstad Sourceright.
I’ve always had a lust for competition – I’d race against my own shadow if I thought I could win. I’ve participated in marathons across Europe, ultra marathons in Scotland and too many coastal rowing regattas to count.
I started reading about crossing an ocean nearly 15 years ago, inspired, like so many, by watching James Cracknell and Ben Fogle’s success. Numerous books were to follow, including Jim Shakdar’s ‘Bold Man of the Sea’, detailing his first solo Pacific crossing. It’s an itch I have always had and one that never seems to go away.
Moving to East Lothian six years ago, I spotted a crew out rowing one morning and was soon to be on the water with the local coastal rowing team. This proved to be a diversion from running and a return to being involved in team sports, which I hadn’t even realised I missed from my days on the school rugby field.
Luckily our rowing crew have been slightly more successful than our first XV – I am currently a double World Champion, winning gold in both the Men’s and Mixed Open in Stanraer in 2019. I bring to the crew both a desire to compete, and hopefully the organisation skills to get us to the starting line.