We get many questions about the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge. Who founded it? When did it start? When did Talisker Whisky get on board? We’re winding back the years today, in a special blog post bringing you the history of this extraordinary rowing race.

Sir Chay Blyth

Scotsman Chay Blyth founded the race. He’d previously crossed the North Atlantic in a 20ft Dory (a small, shallow-draft boat), and so decided that if he could do that, then a well designed and provisioned vessel could definitely follow the classic trade wind route. Ordinary people, taking on an extraordinary challenge. The Atlantic Rowing Race was born.

Race #1

12th October 1997. 30 teams of pairs departed Tenerife to race over 3000NM to Barbados. Prior to this race, there had only been 30 successful ocean rows. A daunting task! New Zealanders Rob Hamill and Phil Stubbs of Kiwi Challenge won the race, with 6 boats withdrawing and 2 boats completing the race as single competitors. The race was planned sporadically from 1997, becoming bi-annual in 2003 and from this year it is now an annual event.

The Weather

You may have noticed that the race begins at the end of the year, usually December. This means that the rowers are away for the festive season. No, it’s not us being especially cruel! The hurricane season is usually over by then, so it’s the safest time for the race to go ahead. However, back in 2005 the hurricane season decided to linger a little longer than usual. Hurricane Epsilon and Tropical Storm Zeta did their very best at blowing the boats backwards, forcing the deployment of para-anchors for extended periods of time. This all but prevented any of the boats from attempting any world records. Mother Nature has certainly played her part over the years.

Talisker Whisky

Talisker Whisky first become involved in what is now known as the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge in 2011, but when new race organisers Atlantic Campaigns took over in 2012, Talisker and Atlantic Campaigns were able to bring the race to a new level, both for the competitors and the sport generally.

With a 3 year agreement, Talisker & Atlantic Campaigns are dedicated to showing the world the best and most safely organised ocean rowing race in the world.

Record Breakers

History has been made in 2016, with the race record for the fastest crossing broken by crew from this year’s fleet! Ocean Reunion completed the race in 37 days, 9 hours and 12 minutes. More of the records broken in another blog…

It’s been an awe-inspiring 19 years for the race, with more than 500 people completing the race.

That’s fewer than the amount of people who have climbed Mount Everest. The race has been given the title “The World’s Toughest Row” – and for very good reason. Sharks, 40ft waves and sleep deprivation are just a few of the challenges faced by the fleet, so it’s safe to say it’s not for the faint-hearted! But it’s an incredible mental and physical achievement, as well as an opportunity for fundraising for very special causes.

The race goes on!

The 2015 race is almost finished, with the last two teams Rowing for Rascals and Atlantic Endurance very close to Antigua now, and we’re still signing up competitors for this year’s December race. So if you’re feeling inspired to grab an oar, get more information here.

Join the conversation over on Twitter using the hash tag #TWAC15.

We get many questions about the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge. Who founded it? When did it start? When did Talisker Whisky get on board? We’re winding back the years today, in a special blog post bringing you the history of this extraordinary rowing race.

Sir Chay Blyth

Scotsman Chay Blyth founded the race. He’d previously crossed the North Atlantic in a 20ft Dory (a small, shallow-draft boat), and so decided that if he could do that, then a well designed and provisioned vessel could definitely follow the classic trade wind route. Ordinary people, taking on an extraordinary challenge. The Atlantic Rowing Race was born.

Race #1

12th October 1997. 30 teams of pairs departed Tenerife to race over 3000NM to Barbados. Prior to this race, there had only been 30 successful ocean rows. A daunting task! New Zealanders Rob Hamill and Phil Stubbs of Kiwi Challenge won the race, with 6 boats withdrawing and 2 boats completing the race as single competitors. The race was planned sporadically from 1997, becoming bi-annual in 2003 and from this year it is now an annual event.

The Weather

You may have noticed that the race begins at the end of the year, usually December. This means that the rowers are away for the festive season. No, it’s not us being especially cruel! The hurricane season is usually over by then, so it’s the safest time for the race to go ahead. However, back in 2005 the hurricane season decided to linger a little longer than usual. Hurricane Epsilon and Tropical Storm Zeta did their very best at blowing the boats backwards, forcing the deployment of para-anchors for extended periods of time. This all but prevented any of the boats from attempting any world records. Mother Nature has certainly played her part over the years.

Talisker Whisky

Talisker Whisky first become involved in what is now known as the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge in 2011, but when new race organisers Atlantic Campaigns took over in 2012, Talisker and Atlantic Campaigns were able to bring the race to a new level, both for the competitors and the sport generally.

With a 3 year agreement, Talisker & Atlantic Campaigns are dedicated to showing the world the best and most safely organised ocean rowing race in the world.

Record Breakers

History has been made in 2016, with the race record for the fastest crossing broken by crew from this year’s fleet! Ocean Reunion completed the race in 37 days, 9 hours and 12 minutes. More of the records broken in another blog…

It’s been an awe-inspiring 19 years for the race, with more than 500 people completing the race.

That’s fewer than the amount of people who have climbed Mount Everest. The race has been given the title “The World’s Toughest Row” – and for very good reason. Sharks, 40ft waves and sleep deprivation are just a few of the challenges faced by the fleet, so it’s safe to say it’s not for the faint-hearted! But it’s an incredible mental and physical achievement, as well as an opportunity for fundraising for very special causes.

The race goes on!

The 2015 race is almost finished, with the last two teams Rowing for Rascals and Atlantic Endurance very close to Antigua now, and we’re still signing up competitors for this year’s December race. So if you’re feeling inspired to grab an oar, get more information here.

Join the conversation over on Twitter using the hash tag #TWAC15.