Two police officers are taking on one of the most dangerous challenges on the planet to raise money for charities that support children with complex medical needs.
PC Darren Clawson and PC Arron Worbey will be attempting to row almost 3,000 miles from Monterey, California to Honolulu in Hawaii this May. Their trip will see them row in two-hour shifts, 24 hours a day, seven days a week for almost two months. During this time they know they’re likely to capsize, will have to deal with 50ft waves and shark infested waters.
The pair are fully aware of the risks involved in such a feat which has previously claimed several lives, but they are a determined duo and have set a fundraising target of £100,000 for Saint Elizabeth’s Centre in Much Hadham and other charities close to their hearts.
Darren’s son Hadley, now aged 14, developed severe epilepsy as a toddler and suffered a series of catastrophic seizures that almost claimed his life. He attends Saint Elizabeth’s, which supports more than 200 vulnerable children and adults with severe learning disabilities and complex medical needs.
Darren said: ‘Saint Elizabeth’s means so much to my family and has been a godsend allowing Hadley to receive the specialist care his condition requires. The staff’s caring and professional nature makes such a difference to his everyday life, giving him around the clock support whilst providing him with schooling that he would never have access to elsewhere.
‘Like many other charities, the COVID-19 pandemic has had a massive impact on their fundraising potential, which is prohibiting them the ability to provide essential facilities that the children desperately require. We hope our project will help to balance that loss.’
The pair will also be donating to an oceans plastics charity and raising awareness around this issue during the crossing.
Darren and Arron will be joined by two team mates on their challenging voyage – their good friends Darren Baker, a chartered financial planner from Somerset, and Simon Evans from Cheltenham, who works in IT consultancy.
They are hoping to break the current world record time of 39 days and, if successful, they will also be the oldest crew ever to complete the challenge as they’re all aged in their 40s.
The fundraisers will be completely alone in the middle of the ocean, surviving by eating rehydrated food cooked on a small gas stove using sea water that has been transformed into drinking water. Dried fruit and sweets like Skittles and Haribo will keep them going when they need a quick pick me up. They will get their power from solar panels on the boat, which will power things like the water maker and their communications equipment.
Arron said: ‘It’s going to be especially difficult as we are entirely unsupported. If something goes wrong on the boat it’s down to us to fix it and any rescue could be days away. We have a limited electrical supply from the solar panels which we have to closely monitor at all times.
‘All ocean rowing is challenging but the Pacific Ocean and this specific route present unique challenges. We will be fighting for every metre as the current and winds try to push us in the opposite direction whilst we try to safely navigate off the continental shelf. This is due to the impact the underwater terrain has on the stability of the surface water.
‘At the start of the race we will have to cross extremely busy shipping lanes. Due to our limited speed and manoeuvrability this is quite a daunting process. There is also the risk of potential hurricanes developing on route so there is a huge amount for us to consider whilst pushing ourselves to our physical limits.’
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