The Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge (TWAC)

TWAC is the world’s toughest rowing race. Crews test the limit of their physical and mental strength to achieve the unthinkable, rowing 3,000 miles unaided across the Atlantic Ocean.

The race begins annually in early December, when teams launch to spend up to two months, or even more, at the mercy of the sea. So difficult is the task, that more people have been into space or climbed Everest than have rowed the Atlantic. Ocean rowing has been described as ‘a battle with nature, primitive and raw’. Entries to the race come from soloists up to crews of five. The vast majority are teams of four, where rowers typically operate on the basis of two hours on/ two hours off for the duration of the race. Rowing with a smaller crew is obviously more challenging, with more responsibility for each crew member, more isolation and, somewhat obviously, a slower and longer crossing. The record for the crossing was set by a four-man crew, The Four Oarsmen, in 2017/18, with a time of 29 days, 15 hours. In practice, the time taken is hugely weather dependent and most four-man crews take 35 to 45 days. Smaller crews have to endure far longer, exposing themselves to the elements of sea, sun and storms.