Expedition Medicine’s University Liaison, Dr Nick Knight writes about his work with the Ocean Rowing Teams record Indian Ocean attempt

A team of four university friends from the South of England are attempting a record-breaking expedition across the Indian Ocean this summer. They are being supported on land by Expedition Medicine’s University Liaison, Dr Nick Knight who is their research coordinator, trainer and nutritionist.

The team is planning to row the 3100 miles from Australia to Mauritius in less than 68 days, 19 hours and 40 minutes – the fastest ever crossing time for a 4s boat.

Starting out in Geraldton, Western Australia the crossing will finish on the island of Mauritius and with only eleven boats having so far successfully completed the crossing, the adventure will be tough. The expedition will see the four man crew suffer extreme fatigue, mental stress and intense isolation. They risk crippling sores and the countless dangers involved in crossing a great Ocean in a small open craft. The adventurers will have minimal help from winds and currents, so will need to row in 2 hour shifts for 24 hours a day for almost ten weeks to complete their mission.

Dorset army officer James Kayll who serves with the Light Dragoons will be joinedIndian Ocean Expedition by Tom Kelly, and by brothers Oliver and Ed Wells.  Capt Kayll has completed two tours of duty in Afghanistan, and will be raising money for the Light Dragoons and also for the charity set up in memory of a close friend who was killed in action – The Mark Evison Foundation.

Capt James Kayll says; “If there’s one thing Mark taught us it is to seize every opportunity.  He was a great friend to us all and would love to have been part of this adventure”.

The rowers will also be raising money for two other charities providing opportunities for young people.

The specially built capsule rowing boat will be fitted with sensors which will send back information on salt levels, acidity and temperature across the surface of the Indian Ocean. The fact that the boat will be travelling so slowly, and can measure at extremely shallow depths will provide a unique insight into the effects of climate change on the Indian Ocean.

Dr Simon Boxall of the National Oceanography Centre in Southampton says; ““Not only is this team of young adventurers embarking upon an extraordinary voyage, but the data they are gathering in their endeavor will enable us to better understand the changes currently taking place in the surface waters of this fragile and vulnerable region. These changes are not only in part caused by human kind but, as we have seen with extreme weather events in recent months, they are having a dramatic impact on communities around the world”

Ed Wells, part of Team Indian Ocean 3100 says; “We wanted to use our challenge to probe this elusive zone of the Indian Ocean and our real time data will provide the scientists back in Southampton with entirely new information.”

After two years preparation the Team Indian Ocean 3100 rowing boat has been fitted with technical and communications equipment in Hampshire.  The rowers will launch their fully equipped boat in Southampton Water on the morning of February 2nd and hold a press briefing at the Royal Southampton Yacht club in Ocean Village.  The boat will be shipped to Australia on February 10th.

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