Woodvale Challenge Ltd (www.woodvale-challenge.com) was founded in 2004 and runs the Atlantic Ocean Rowing race, Indian Ocean Rowing race, Round Britain race and elite Works Teams races. The concept of ocean rowing was born following the North American crossing of Chay Blyth and John Ridgway in 1966. More than four decades later the pioneering Atlantic Rowing race has enabled over 200 courageous people to achieve the ultimate in human endeavours.
Woodvale Challenge Ltd has built more ocean going rowing boats and have supported more individuals safely across oceans than anyone else in the world. Woodvale pride themselves on offering a second to none service, ensuring that every individual who approaches them has the best possible chance of crossing an ocean by receiving personalised advice with knowledge and experience readily available when needed. Their staff are carefully selected for their experience and commitment to the sport of ocean rowing and their aim is to continue to see the list of successful, and above all safe, ocean crossings expand through supporting both entrants in their own races and also offering a fountain of knowledge to those who want to go it alone and row independently.
The first Atlantic Rowing Race was held in 1997 enabling 30 teams of courageous individuals to set out into the unknown and row across the Mid Atlantic route from Tenerife to Barbados. Since then there have been a further five races across this route in 2001, 2003, 2005, 2007 and 2009 with more than 240 individuals taking on the challenge and successfully joining the elite group that are Ocean Rowers. The 2011 Atlantic Ocean Rowing Race will start in the Spanish port of San Sebastian de la Gomera in the Canary Islands and follows what’s known as the Columbus route, west-bound across the mid-Atlantic to Port St Charles in Barbados.
The Indian Ocean Rowing Race will start in April 2011 departing from the small fishing village of Geraldton, and the beautiful coastline of Western Australia, and finishing in the picturesque setting of Mauritius. This is the first ever rowing race held in the Southern Hemisphere and the second across the Indian Ocean (first in April 2009) so there is everything to race for and records on hand to break as the excitement builds in the run up to this historic event.
The inaugural Round Britain race will start in May 2012 will take up to two months to cover the 2,000 miles of coastal Britain, facing storms, headwinds, tidal pressures and the risk of collision in busy seaways. The journey will be sliced up into 10 separate legs to create bite-sized adventures for people who can't spare the weeks required for the complete journey. Competitors can sign up for one, two, or however many legs of the total. A single section could take up to five days, providing huge opportunities for individual achievement. But if rowers feel up to the whole 2,000 miles, that is also on the menu. The 15-strong teams will be changed as necessary when boats reach port. Crowds are expected on headlands and at the 10 harbours where boat teams will dash for the line then rest for a day or so before launching themselves on the next section. Individuals and small groups are expected to sign up and be placed in teams under experienced captains, with training and instruction available all over the country.
Woodvale boat designs hold many world records for their crossings, and their resident rower, Simon Chalk, holds nine Guinness records including “The first ever person to row solo across the Indian Ocean (2003)”. Ben Fogle and James Cracknell famously competed in the Atlantic Rowing Race in 2005 bringing the world of ocean rowing into the spotlight and the Woodvale Atlantic Rowing Race has recently been voted the Toughest Athletic Challenge by TopTenz.com.