Kirdford rower set for test of endurance

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Royal Automobile Club member Tommy Tippetts from Kirdford is taking on a gruelling challenge in December when he attempts to row more than 2,500 nautical miles across the Atlantic to help raise £25,000 for mental health charity Mind.

The Woodvale Challenge, a race which starts in the Canary Islands and finishes in Barbados, is traditionally undertaken as a rowing pair. However, this extreme test of mental and physical stamina will be even greater as Tommy, 22, will be attempting the feat alone.

The crossing can take up to four months to finish and the boat Tommy is competing in – a converted pairs boat previously used in the 2009 Woodvale Challenge – is 24ft long but needs to contain everything he needs for the duration of the challenge.

Tommy has been training with the help of ex-Royal Marine physical training instructor Jon Stratford for more than a year.

A keen sportsman from a young age, Tommy sees the Woodvale Challenge as a chance to explore his passion for adventure and extreme physical challenge.

“Rowing solo across the Atlantic will present a number of huge challenges,” he said.

“Spending up to four months alone at sea while coping with sleep deprivation, confinement, exhaustion and injury along with whatever the weather throws at me will be a true test of mind and body.”

He is also using the Woodvale Challenge to fundraise for a cause close to home, Mind.

The focus for Tommy’s row is to help change people’s perceptions of mental health and bring them into the 21st century, along with raising money for more research and support

Tommy has experienced the pain caused by mental health as a close family member has suffered with these issues, so he is supportive of Mind and keen to raise as much money as possible.

“I am wholeheartedly behind Mind, the charity I am supporting, and what they do.

“I hope that by putting my own mental strength to the test, it will go some way to helping others recover their own,” he added

Last week the Royal Automobile Club hosted a fundraising dinner for Tommy with adventurer Ed Stafford as his guest speaker, which raised more than £20,000 – far exceeding Tommy’s expectations.

His boat, previously known as the Roberto Coin, was on display in the Pall Mall rotunda.

To show support for Mind and donate online, visit www.mind.org.uk.

To help Tommy with sponsorship or find out more about his attempt, visit www.soloatlanticrow2011.co.uk.