“I wish people would be a little less sensible”

We spoke to Jamie Sparks hours after he and Luke Birch made history by becoming the youngest pair ever to row the Atlantic. In a four part interview Jamie talks about the effect the race has had on him, how he got through it and what he’s planning to do now he’s back on dry land.


Jamie’s stories will in turn have you laughing, crying and speechless but what they all have in common is the ability to inspire. He said before the race that both he and Luke were hoping to inspire people to do more with their lives and in his own words: “If I’ve done anything by reaching Antigua, it’s proving that where there’s a will, there’s a way”.

“My life was never going to be the same again”

In Part 1 of this four part interview Jamie talks to The Tab about unbearable pain, a tear jerking letter from his Dad and how he felt as he watched the last sunrise of the trip – his highs and lows.

“A relationship forged out of competition”

Being stuck on a rowing boat with your girlfriend for 54 days would be near impossible for even the most loved up of uni couples but Jamie and Luke, through a relationship ‘forged out of competition’ and with the ‘weirdest dynamic’, finished as they had started, best mates. Despite sharing a good sense of humour, occasionally the desire “punch [each other] on the nose” was just too tempting.

As well as how the record-breaking pair got on, Jamie talks about the emotional upheaval of leaving land for such a prolonged period of time and describes how only ten hours after getting off the boat he missed the ‘simple life’.

“Pain destroys you mentally…”

“Popping codines like there’s no tomorrow” and carving seats out of their only mattress to save their sore-ravaged bums was all in a day’s work for the boys on their marathon trip.

Jamie talks candidly about his personal faith and how it helped get him across as well as how the journey “reconfirmed his faith in an extraordinary way”. Oh, and about that time that he spoke to Sir Ranulph Fiennes live on BBC Radio Bristol which was apparently “quite surreal”. Just a bit.

“If I’m anything, I’m a dreamer”

In words that Alan Watts himself would have been proud of Jamie urges his generation to live their dreams and stop being  obsessed by the ‘norms’ of banking and ‘The City’.

Describing the race as a “massive team effort” the aspiring explorer thanks his friends from school and uni from the “bottom of [his heart]” for getting him through “the tough times”.

As for him, well he says he’s just going to start planning his next adventure.