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Mermaid Atlantic Team Make Final Preparations Ahead Of ‘World’s Toughest Row’

The Mermaid Atlantic Team will this week leave the Isle of Wight for La Gomera in the Canary Islands ahead of their gruelling row across the Atlantic.

The three team members are all native to the Isle of Wight:

  • Co-founder of The Isle of Wight Distillery Xavier Baker
  • Owner of i-surf Chris Manion
  • Ventnor longshoreman and firefighter Paul Berry

The trio will be rowing unsupported 3,000 nautical miles from the Canary Islands to the Caribbean in their Rannoch 45 rowing boat, named Mermaid Atlantic. 

They are taking on this challenge in a bid to raise awareness of ocean pollution, raising funds for three organisations: Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust, Surfers Against Sewage and The Seahorse Trust.

They are hoping to communicate the detrimental effect of waste items on the ocean - plastic is the biggest culprit but there are other materials that don’t decompose, polluting the water, damaging eco-systems and threatening marine life. 

They also want to raise awareness of the power of seagrass and the role it plays in combating the climate crisis.

Seagrass is the unsung hero of the ocean, home to many sea creatures and also functions as a huge carbon sink (able to absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere), sequestering it 35 times faster than the rainforest.

However its survival is being threatened by human intervention including mooring anchors, buoys and pollution.

The race starts on December 12 and the Mermaid Atlantic Team will be rowing along with around 35 other teams who will face 40 foot waves, unpredictable weather conditions, possible Blue Marlin strikes and the physical and mental effects of non-stop rowing for what could be eight weeks.

The three teammates will take turns to row 2 hours on and 2 hours off, 24 hours a day.

They are all well versed in ocean sports with skills in sailing, surfing and kayaking however all but Paul are novice rowers. 

Speaking on behalf of the team, Xavier Baker said:

“We have spent the last few years dreaming of taking part in this challenge and it has now become reality.

"We are hugely grateful to all those who have sponsored us and engaged with us on our journey and we feel well prepared both mentally and physically for taking on the mighty ocean.

"We know there will be good times and not so good times but we are ready for all that is thrown at us and at the back of our minds will always be our shared passion to protect and preserve the ocean.”

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