Atlantic rowing students currently in the lead

After a month at sea the Edinburgh and Bristol students rowing the Atlantic are currently winning the 3,000 nautical mile race.

Edinburgh student Luke Birch and Bristol Uni’s Jamie Sparks are currently winning the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge, a 3,000 nautical mile rowing race across the Atlantic Ocean.

Just finishing would be a major achievement – if they get to the end of the mammoth slog they’ll be the youngest ever duo to complete the journey – but they are currently leading all the other 2-man teams.

race tracker

The 2 Boys in a Boat, sponsored by The Tab, are a whopping 92 nautical miles ahead of their nearest rivals and, despite the hardship, are still making good progress.

pic 4

Pants: The early stages of the race were marred by rough weather.

They’ve held the lead since December 21st, which Luke described as “a great feeling”.

The intrepid duo are still rowing in the nude to combat chafing, but despite having been at sea for a whole month they are yet to get used to this aspect of the trip.

pic 5

Naked ambition: The boys are hoping to complete the crossing in 50 days

Jamie said: “I thought that the nudity aspect would become normal but I’m just as disgusted now as I was on day one by the fact that wherever I look I see bare ass and genitals.”

pic 1

Luke braving the elements

Writing for the team’s blog on Boxing Day he said: “If I felt like an old man a week ago, then I’ve aged another 10 years since. I’ve almost permanently lost feeling in the ends of my index fingers due to the constant lack of blood when squeezing an oar.

“I’m not sure whether it will return after but I’m not really bothered.”

pic 2

Dedication: Neither of the crew took any time off rowing for Christmas or the New Year

The damage to their hands is far from the only danger that the death-defying pair have overcome.

Early in the race the boys were forced off course by extreme weather and on Boxing Day it was Luke’s job to scrub algae from the underside of the boat while Jamie kept watch for sharks.

pic 3

However, sweety Luke has revealed that it’s missing his friends and family that hurts the most:

“I have been thinking about my friends and family, and how special they all are to me and how lucky I am to know such wonderful funny and kind people. I’ll be on the oars and scream to myself ‘Chuddleyyyy’ or other stupid names I have for people.

JL reed 2

The students pictured during their final preparations for the off.

“I often start laughing when I’m rowing as I recount funny and good times shared with friends. It’s only when you are truly away from them and Facebook that you really appreciate I have found.”


The boys, with help from sponsors like the Tab and private donations,  have raised almost £140,000 for Breast Cancer Care. You can contribute by visiting their website.