PhD student in bid to row the Atlantic

Carbon Zerow, US & GB team, at the start line of the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge. Left to right: Brian Kerr, James Lamb, Philip Van Benthem and Kyle Smith. CREDIT BEN DUFFY

A Strathclyde PhD student has taken to the seas as he attempts to row across the Atlantic Ocean.

Kyle Smith, along with three team-mates, is taking part in The Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge – a 3,000 mile ocean-rowing competition which set out on December 12.

The team aims to complete the journey from La Gomera in the Canary Islands to Antigua in the Caribbean while also endeavouring to ensure their efforts are carbon-neutral.


Electrical Engineer Kyle from Fort William said: “As a group we’d been talking about doing this for over a year. It was certainly something I’d talked about as a kid as I used to watch Transworld Sport on TV.

“When we finally got round to seriously considering taking part it was around the time of the Paris Climate Agreement so we decided to try to make it carbon-neutral too.

“We checked with the Carbon Trust if was possible and they said it was so we’ll purchase carbon credits to offset what we create.”

The race is unsupported so teams must carry everything they need with them and if any equipment fails or team member gets sick or injured they drop out of the race.

The crew must row their nine-metre long boat 24 hours a day, in two-hour shifts, in order to complete the voyage in around 40-70 days.

Kyle said: “For me the sleep deprivation will be the hardest part. Boredom will kick in too.

We’re still having a debate about whether we actually want to race or whether we’re happy just to make it to the other side.

"There’s a bunch of other teams who would be very hard to compete against.”

The Faculty of Engineering at the University of Strathclyde has sponsored the team’s oars – three sets in total.

The crew consists of Brian Kerr, James Lamb, Philip Van Bentham and their shore support Richard Littauer.

The crew will document their trip and provide updates via their website and social media.