Epic 3,000 mile fundraising row for Challenge Wales by Cardiff Dad

Stalked by a sea creature, facing 40ft waves and facing sleep deprivation was a challenging and adventurous way to raise vital funds for local sail training charity, Challenge Wales.

Cardiff resident and Challenge Wales supporter, John Solosy set sail in a 28 foot vessel with 3 of his friends in December in a mammoth effort to raise £100,000 for 4 charities, including Challenge Wales.

Faced with fierce storms, being stalked by a 15-foot marlin with a very sharp, sword-like bill, rowing in excess of 1.5 million strokes during the race and eating 7,000 calories a day John had trained for two years for this epic adventure yet five months earlier had knee replacement surgery. Where this might have put off some people, John saw it as physiotherapy that was making a big difference!

Pic credit: The World’s Toughest Row

The team ‘The Big Oardeal’ took part in the World’s Toughest Row and pushed their physical and mental boundaries with remarkable levels of resilience and dedication. The four crewmates (including another John from Cardiff and James & Richard from Norfolk started the race in the Canary Islands and 41 days, 6 hours and 44 minutes later crossed the finish line in Antigua.

So why did John row the Atlantic? John said: “Rowing the Atlantic will be a test unlike anything I have ever attempted. I am fascinated to see how the challenge pushes me emotionally, mentally and physically while still trying to enjoy the beauty of being in the middle of the Ocean. When growing up the outdoors provided a great way to escape from the challenges of being a teenager in the London suburbs and since then I have loved the peace, tranquillity and challenges that the outdoor provides. Challenge Wales provides a unique opportunity for young people to develop their personal skills and life skills in an exhilarating environment, creating truly life-changing opportunities that will not only help the individuals who participate but also those around them. What better charity could there be to align myself to.”

Vicky Williams, Co-Founder and Manager of Challenge Wales said ” From everyone at Challenge Wales, we would like to congratulate the Big Oardeal for their epic achievement of rowing across the Atlantic and raising over £25,000 for the Challenge Wales charity. Myself and the Challenge Wales Team followed their journey every day on social media and on the boat tracker and we gathered ourselves around the laptop to watch them cross the finish line live. We are incredibly grateful for John and his 3 amazing team mates for what they did and their support has never been so important to small charities like us. The funding will help us to enable more disadvantaged young people to have a life-enhancing personal development opportunity through our outdoor education programme at sea. Our programme has a huge impact and helps young people face challenges, improves mental health, enhances teamwork and communication skills, increases their awareness of ocean literacy and improves resilience – although the rowers would have experienced the same on their boat at least when onboard Challenge Wales, we can stop in port and also have fun learning shore-side.

Watch Big Oardeal’s amazing journey here. (courtesy of World’s Toughest Row)

To donate to the Big Oardeal Team and John [Solosy’s] fundraising for Challenge Wales visit; The Big Oardeal’s JustGiving page.