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News > Sports > Oardinary Boys Prove Extraordinary

Oardinary Boys Prove Extraordinary

​​​​​​​OTs George Randell (Sc 08-13) and Oli Glanville (PH 08-13) rowed themselves into the history books as they became the second fastest pair in history to cross the Atlantic.
27 Jun 2018

OTs George Randell (Sc 08-13) and Oli Glanville (PH 08-13) rowed themselves into the history books as they became the second fastest pair in history to cross the Atlantic.

As competitors in the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge, billed as the ‘world’s toughest row’, the pair took part in a 3,000 mile race which tested their endurance, spirit and teamwork to the limit over the course of 37 gruelling days at sea.

In an incredibly hard-fought battle, George and Oli – competing under their team name The Oardinary Boys – finished second to rivals Row2Recovery by just two hours. The winning team paid tribute by waiting for the pair to join them at the dining table for a first celebratory meal back on dry land.

At the same time as world records were being broken in the challenge, hundreds of thousands of pounds were also being raised for charities across the globe. George and Oli set themselves a goal of reaching £60,000 for their chosen charities, The Against Malaria Foundation and Alzheimer’s Research UK, and are close to achieving their target.

Oli reflected on the pair’s incredible adventure, which started in the Canary Islands in December and ended in Antigua on 20 January. The race saw them brave storms, exhaustion, seasickness and extreme danger – on three occasions their boat capsized in stormy waters. “It was a true baptism of fire in the opening days as we had no real protection against some serious weather that came our way,” he said. “The first storm was quite scary, but living in our wet clothes and having to plough on regardless was perhaps the biggest test of endurance.”

The pair operated a system of ‘two hours on, two hours off’ during their marathon row – one tried to sleep while the other sweated it out with the oars. And while they had been friends since childhood – a friendship then cemented at Tonbridge School – conditions also tested their team ethic. In the vastness of the Atlantic, they only had each other for company for more than a month. Their 24-foot boat offered just enough room to sleep inside, with extreme tiredness and hallucinations becoming commonplace.

“Looking back on it, we can’t really remember where the time went,” Oli added. “We tried to keep each other’s spirits up, sometimes with word games and riddles, and other times with just enjoying the silence, looking at the sea and appreciating the whole experience.”

George admitted to feeling “completely broken” by having come so close to overall victory, but said he quickly came to appreciate how amazing their adventure had been. “We closed in on the winning team before they finally pulled away,” he said. “But I will take so many memories away with me, not least that we broke a previous world record. The scene as we approached the finish at Antigua, with the sun setting, was just beautiful. At first we couldn’t really walk properly when we got on to dry land, as our balance had gone, but our spirits soon recovered when we treated ourselves to some days on the beach.”

It is estimated that the pair lost 20 per cent of their bodyweight during their time at sea, burned 10,000 calories a day and took 1.5 million oar strokes. Just 500 people have previously rowed the Atlantic – more people have been to space or climbed Everest.


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