Royal Navy submariners aim to row the Atlantic in bid to support struggling comrades

THEY are ‘Oardacious’ by name and audacious by nature.

Tuesday, 30th July 2019, 10:33 pm
Lieutenants Hugo Mitchell-Heggs and Callum Fraser, Petty Officer Dylan Woods and Leading Electrical Technician Matty Harvey - are among those taking part in the epic Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge. They will row 3,000 miles across the Atlantic to raise 130,000 to set up a new mental health support scheme for submariners. Pictured at the launch event of their adventure at HMS Victory. Pictured is: (l-r) Lieuntenant Callum Fraser, Petty Officer Dylan Woods, Lieutenants Hugo Mitchell-Heggs and Leading Electrical Technician Matty Harvey on HMS Ordacious. Picture: Sarah Standing (120719-981)

And now this team of intrepid submariners have their sights fixed on sailing into the history books by becoming the first Royal Navy team to row across the Atlantic.

The ‘oarsome’ foursome – made up of Lieutenants Hugo Mitchell-Heggs and Callum Fraser, Petty Officer Dylan Woods and Leading Electrical Technician Matty Harvey – are among those taking part in the epic Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge.

The adventure will see 18 four-man teams attempt to row 3,000 miles from La Gomera in the Canaries to Antigua in the Caribbean in December.

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Lieutenants Hugo Mitchell-Heggs and Callum Fraser, Petty Officer Dylan Woods and Leading Electrical Technician Matty Harvey - are among those taking part in the epic Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge. They will row 3,000 miles across the Atlantic to raise 130,000 to set up a new mental health support scheme for submariners. Pictured at the launch event of their adventure at HMS Victory. Picture: Sarah Standing (120719-4389)

Rowing in their £65,000 custom-built ‘unsinkable’ boat HMS Oardacious, the team will complete in excess of 1.5m strokes as they tackle gruelling two-hour stints, non-stop, for about a month.

It’s hoped the crew’s efforts will raise £130,000 for the Royal Navy and Royal Marines Charity and set up a new mental health support network for those in the Silent Service.

Lt Mitchell-Heggs, team captain, said it would be a gruelling challenge but one his lads were eager to tackle.

The 32-year-old said: ‘More people have been into space or climbed Everest than have ever rowed the Atlantic. So to be the first official Royal Navy team to do this would be incredible.

Lieutenants Hugo Mitchell-Heggs and Callum Fraser, Petty Officer Dylan Woods and Leading Electrical Technician Matty Harvey - are among those taking part in the epic Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge. They will row 3,000 miles across the Atlantic to raise 130,000 to set up a new mental health support scheme for submariners. Pictured at the launch event of their adventure at HMS Victory. Picture: Sarah Standing (120719-959)

‘This is about proving you really can do something extraordinary.’

Dad-of-two Lt Fraser, 29, of Fareham, said it would be tough leaving his family behind.

‘I’m going to miss my newborn baby Thea’s first Christmas,’ said Lt Fraser. ‘That’s not going to be easy.’

His loving wife Sophie – who acts as the team’s social media ‘guru’ – said she was fully behind Callum.

The 29-year-old added: ‘I’m so incredibly proud of Callum and the team.

‘What they are doing is amazing and will really make a huge difference to the lives of submariners.’

As well as having to cope with storms, the team will burn more than 5,000 calories a day and will lose about 12kg in weight.

But the squad said it was worth the hardship as they know the money they raise will help fellow submariners in need.

Lt Mitchell-Heggs said: ‘I have seen a lot of people struggle. From people losing friends while deployed to marital disputes.

‘Mental health support for submariners needs to be improved. That’s what we hope to achieve.’

PO Woods added: ‘We’re determined to finish the race, absolutely determined.’

The team have a fifth member, Lieutenant Commander Gareth Griffiths, who is acting as a substitute if one of the squad fall ill.

The squad will set off on December 17, and hope to wrap up their voyage in January.

For more details, see.hmsoardacious.com