The GB Row Challenge: The Toughest Rowing Race On The Planet?

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This past weekend one of the toughest rowing events on the planet, the GB Row Challenge, got underway at the Tower Bridge in London. It was from that point that seven teams set off on a 2000-mile long journey to circumnavigate the British Isles while rowing non-stop and unassisted. If history is any judge, most of them won’t complete this journey, which is incredibly demanding both physically and psychologically.

The teams who have entered the race vary in size from as small as two crew members up to teams of six. Most are in traditional row boats designed for the challenges of open water, although one three man team is actually attempting to pedal a pedalo around the course. Some of the challenges they’ll face will include rough seas, fast moving and ever-changing currents and unpredictable weather. They’ll also have to navigate through some of the busiest shipping lanes in the world, while fending off the fatigue that comes with rowing a boat day in and day out for an extended period of time. All the while they’ll be in sight of land, which presents a strong lure to quit when things get particularly difficult.

Just how long it will take to complete the race remains to be seen. The current record for completing the circumnavigation of the islands is 26 days, 21 hours and 14 minutes. That record was set by a crew of four men back in 2005. The women’s record was set in 2010 and currently stands at 51 days, 16 hours and 42 minutes.

The GB Row does offer a substantial prize package for the winners. First place in any category goes home with £15,000 ($22,944), while second place wins £6,000 ($9177) and third place gets £4,000 ($6118). Additionally, any team that breaks the world record for the course will also receive an additional £100,000 ($152,960).

Each of the boats is carrying a Yellowbrick tracker that updates their position every hour on the hour. You can follow their progress on the race tracker page. Considering they’ve only been out on the water a few days, there is still a long, long way to go until someone reaches the finish line back at the Tower Bridge.

Thanks to Sylvia for sharing news of this race with me. It is much appreciated! Sylvia’s friends Jason McKinlay and Josh Tarr are competing in the event as Team Savoir Faire. Good luck guys!

Kraig Becker