Rowing 4 Research duo begin Atlantic challenge

1st December 2013

Rowing 4 Research

Poor weather conditons in Gran Canaria had delayed Harry Martin-Dreyer and Alex Bland beginning their epic 3,000 mile voyage to Barbados across the Atlantic Ocean to raise money for Cure Leukaemia and JDRF the type-1 diabetes charity. However, they have now set sail on their epic voyage across the ocean!

They prepared to set off from Gran Canaria on December 1st before poor weather intervened. photos here.

Their Rafayel Rowing 4 Research challenge has already raised over £125,000 and support is growing for Harry and Alex.

They've been mentioned on Chris Evans' BBC Radio 2 Breakfast Show, appeared in London's Evening Standard and were interviewed live on BBC WM's Pete Morgan Breakfast Show. Here is a video of the interview:

Celebrity duo Ben Fogle and James Cracknell completed the crossing back in 2005, and Fogle sent a message of support to the intrepid pair:

"Harry and Alex this is such an unbelievable challenge you are taking on and I wish you the very best of luck in your journey.

I know myself from my expedition with James Cracknell that it takes every ounce of your determination and will to complete this crossing but I'm sure you will find a way to reach your goal. Many congratulations for raising the money you have already for Cure Leukaemia and JDRF, the work they are doing is so important and if you keep that focussed in your mind you will find the courage to get across the Atlantic.

Good luck!"

Ben Fogle

Under the searing heat of the sun and through the night, they will be rowing alternately on two hour shifts, 24 hours a day, seven days a week for up to three months, facing the risk of tropical storms, huge waves, colossal super tankers and even sharks. They will experience acute physical pain, sleep deprivation and psychological exhaustion along the way.


They have already surpassed their goal to raise £100,000 for Cure Leukaemia & JDRF, with their total so far sitting at over £125,000, an incredible amount of money. Alex’s brother lives with type one diabetes and Harry’s mother, Alexandra Martin, sadly died in March after her recovery from leukaemia was cut short by severe pneumonia. They have now increased their fundraising target to £150,000 as a result of their superb efforts to date. 

They have received fantastic support throughout their fundraising especially from Hotel Rafayel, their lead sponsors.

Harry and Alex are currently both in training to gain 25kg in bodyweight, to compensate for what they will lose during the row. You can see their photo diary since January and how much they've changed!


Harry said: "All families affected by leukaemia and type 1 diabetes have faced tough challenges. That's why we wanted to take on this huge task on behalf of these two special charities. The money raised will help to fund vital medical research into both leukaemia and type 1 diabetes."

On a lighter note, he added: “As a City recruiter, I always look for determination, guts and stamina in my candidates. Alex has all those skills and more. Now he just needs to learn how to row!”

James McLaughlin, Cure Leukaemia CEO, said: “I wish Harry and Alex all the luck in the world for their cross-Atlantic voyage. It will be a remarkable achievement and the money they have already raised is extraordinary in itself. We will all be behind you and remember all the patients you will be helping through your efforts, good luck”

The feat is something still only a small number of people have tried and even fewer completed – at the last count the Ocean Rowing Society acknowledged only 286 successful Atlantic rows. This is far fewer than have climbed Everest, and half the number that have been into space.

If you would like to make a donation in support of Harry & Alex you can on their Virgin Money Giving page.

The two men spoke about their challenge at the Cure Leukaemia's 10th Anniversary Gala dinner at Villa Park's Holte Suite where their story touched the hearts of everyone present:

We will bring you more news about this incredible challenges over the next few months, you can follow their epic journey on Twitter @rowing4research


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The Trials Acceleration Programme (TAP)

How funds raised for Cure Leukaemia help save lives

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"Cure Leukaemia’s funding of the UK Trials Acceleration Programme (TAP) is a game-changer and increases the access for blood cancer patients to potentially transformative new therapies."

Sir John Bell
"Cure Leukaemia’s funding of the UK Trials Acceleration Programme (TAP) is a game-changer and increases the access for blood cancer patients to potentially transformative new therapies."

Sir John Bell