Royal Navy team on course to win ‘world’s toughest row.

When: from 1000 Hours (local)/1400 GMT, Wednesday January 17 2024.

Arrival time approx and based on best estimate by the team based on current progress and conditions.

Where: Nelson’s Dockyard, English Harbour, Antigua

What: HMS Oardacious, Royal Navy team of five rowers, expected to win the 3,000-mile annual ‘world’s toughest row’ from the Canaries to the Caribbean.


A Royal Navy team is on course to win the world’s toughest row by arriving in Antigua tomorrow after 35 days covering 3,000 miles of the Atlantic.

If everything goes according to plan, the five-strong HMS Oardacious team of submariners are expected to arrive in Nelson’s Dockyard, English Harbour, from around 10am local time (2pm onwards in the UK) – the first of 37 teams over the finish line.

Should they arrive on schedule – weather, currents and physical exhaustion allowing – they will be fastest military team on record to cover the gruelling distance – and the first five-man team (the race is typically won by teams of four due to the weight advantage).

The families of skipper Commander Matt Main, 39, Commander Dan Seager, 38, both marine engineer officers, 37-year-old Lieutenant Rob Clarke, a medical services officer, marine engineer Petty Officer Ian Allen, aged 39, and 40-year-old Commander Mike Forrester have flown out to Antigua to welcome the rowers after more than one month apart.

Their boat Captain Jim – named in memory of a former colleague – left La Gomera in the Canaries on December 13, one of 37 craft in the race, some rowed by individuals, most by teams.

Since then, the submariners have rowed in shifts of 2½ hours on the oars, followed by 90 minutes’ rest in the tiny cabins at each end of the boat.

They’ve burned through around 5,000 calories every day (the figure for the average adult is around 2,000 calories), all are suffering salt sores, blisters and sea sickness, jumped into the ocean to scrape barnacles from the hull – marine growth can slow the boat down by as much as half a knot, a massive drag when the men have been propelling Captain Jim through the Atlantic at speeds of around 3½ knots – and have been battered by 20ft waves.

To maintain morale, the rowers have phone/internet links with both their families and the wider world, posting images, videos and – a surprise hit among followers – poetry to capture their feelings, prompted by involvement with the charity Never Such Innocence which encourages young people, particularly those from military families, to express themselves through the arts.

This is the third time a team of submariners has taken on the World’s Toughest Row under the banner of HMS Oardacious.

It has become a major fundraising initiative for the submarine community (Captain Jim’s crew have raised £15k alone since leaving the Canaries, contributing to over £70,000 raised by HMS Oardacious for the Royal Navy and Royal Marines Charity).

The rowers have the backing of HRH The Prince of Wales, the honorary head of the Submarine Service – HMS Oardacious raises funds for mental health, wellbeing and resilience projects in the submarine community – legendary yachtsman Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, Olympic gold medal rower and honorary Royal Navy captain Peter Reed and MP and honorary Royal Navy captain Penny Mordaunt.

Since founded, HMS Oardacious has inspired hundreds of thousands of young people through STEM events and outreach projects with the Sea Cadets, Sir Thomas Lipton Foundation and Reach the World.

This is a media alert from the Royal Navy.