For Greg Bailey and his half-brother Jude Massey, it’s 3,000 miles across the Atlantic.

Now 27, he will set off from Gran Canaria, Spain, in January, and hopefully end up in Barbados six to 11 weeks later.

But until late last year, neither of them had any rowing experience, never mind the experience necessary to tackle weeks of 30ft waves, potential hurricanes, sharks and sea sickness.

Just 317 crews have ever successfully made it across the world’s second-largest ocean, 153 have failed, and for six of those the trip was fatal.

To prepare, the south coast duo, who will appear at Southampton Boat Show from Friday, are in the middle of a strict training regime of night rows and intensive gym sessions.

Previously, Greg’s only nautical knowhow lies in surfing and free-diving – where, impressively, he can hold his breath for five minutes down to a depth of 28 metres.

Jude has a little more sailing background, starting at a young age on the Solent near their native Lymington.

“My experience is more about being in the sea, bobbing around, rather than floating on top of it,” Greg admitted.

“My brother has been sailing since he was six, starting in dinghies he went up through all the classes… He has sailed up to GB national level as a dinghy sailor, competing in the 420 class.

“So there’s some reasonable background – and I suppose the unknown element adds to the excitement.

“[We] have never rowed, or attempted anything like this before… I came up with the idea in October 2016, and then we really got going with it the January after.

“It’ll go one of two ways. Either we’ll all be fine after a few months at sea, or we’ll never speak to each other again. I’m full of confidence it’ll be the better of those two.

During the crossing, the brothers will starve as they expend more calories than they consume – surviving on a vegan diet of freeze-dried meals, nuts, dried fruit and non-dairy chocolate.

Jude added: “Originally, we thought we’d swim across the Solent but one day Greg called in work out of the blue and told me we should row across the Atlantic. I was a bit stunned and needed about five minutes to decide.

“I’m not ready at the moment, but I will be. I’m excited more than anything.

“I started sailing at six, and made my way up through the ranks… My longest race so far has only been for eight hours – so nothing compared to what I will be doing on my way to the Bahamas.

“It’s incomparable.

“But I’m very comfortable when I’m out at sea, sometimes more comfortable out there than I am on land.”

Although one has more boating experience than the other, neither is under any illusion about how tough the task ahead of them is.

Greg added: ”Although a hurricane is pretty unlikely, we don’t have the manoeuvrability a sailing boat or power driven vessel has.

“The likes of hurricane Irma and 185 mph winds would simply pick up our rowing boat and fling it across the ocean surface with the 185mph winds – we would have no chance.”

Adventure, though, is in the family.

The half-brothers are rowing father at step-father Pete Massey, who passed away from skin cancer in 2016, and they hope to raise £100,000 for the British Skin Foundation.

As a young man, he left London with £300 in his pocket and hitchhiked all the way to India before staying there for months. Crossing the Atlantic by sea was a dream of his.

And more than a decade ago, Greg was the youngest Brit at the time to scale France’s highest peak, Mont Blanc.

He recalled: “Then I was scaling sheer cliff faces, with cracks filled with ice, sleeping on a rocky ledge with a 500ft drop to the side of me and getting up at 4am after surviving on five Snickers bars.

The 27-year-old doctor also climbed the Matterhorn twice – first at age 15 and again at 21 with a Brazilian friend who had never done any mountaineering just one week before the trip.

He also completed the Haute Route at age 15 – a five day ski tour from Chamonix to Zermatt, climbing and skiing continuously for 125 miles.

It makes 30ft waves and sharks seem slightly less like hard work, but the brothers are in the midst of a gruelling on-shore training schedule before they head to the Canary Islands in January.

“[The onshore training] is a lot of gym work. We’re doing a lot of stuff that supports our core and back.

“A lot of work like squats and dead lifts. You’ve got to have a good posture.

“Someone told me rowing is all about pushing and not pulling. Which means it’s less about your arms pulling the oars and more about your legs pushing the footplate.

“Bike training works as well as loads of aerobic and strength training.

“You don’t necessarily want to spend hours and hours on a rowing machine, as you’ll develop a negative association with it.

“Similarly, we’ve been sleeping in the driveway on the boat so we can get used to it, and will start spending a few nights at sea soon.”

The arduous training programme has been devised and constructed by their trainer Stokey Woodall from Ventnor, Isle of Wight.

He has mentored numerous successful rowing crews, such as the Row 4 James team, who completed their Atlantic crossing in 39 days, four hours and 14 minutes on January 22 this year.

Stokey has sailed the Atlantic 31 times himself and is the UK’s No1 weather router, providing the tactical advice to safely navigate Greg and Jude through potential hurricanes.

As well as sleeping in their boat as it sits on the driveway, the two-man team has also begun off shore training – starting with four passages on the Solent.

Night passages are due to begin soon, with an eight-day journey from Lymington to Putney, hugging the coast around to the Thames Estuary before arriving in London on October 16.

“Stokey is the best in the industry and with his advice, assuming our communications do not fail, he will be able to get us into the areas with the best wind and current in our favour,” said Greg.

“The pair of us will be rowing pretty-much constantly. Two hours on, then two hours off each, so it will be alternating.

“That allows you to get a couple of hours kip at a time. There has to be one of us rowing at all times, as you really need someone to be looking out at all times.

“At night, the main thing is visibility.

“Unlike when you’re out in the middle of the Atlantic, where there’s not much to row into, navigating near the shore at night can be tough. You get sudden changes of wind and tide.

“The preparation is a mixed bag, split into a few parts. There’s the theory, which is your navigation – using the stars in the event all your high tech gadgets fail, or break down.

“There’ll be no GPS or landmarks, so you have to rely on the sky.

“[Out at sea] the only thing you need to worry about out there is the odd animal and straying into shipping lanes, which we will be making every precaution to stay away from.”

ROWING THE ATLANTIC – The Ocean Brothers’ DOs AND DON’Ts. 

You don’t have to be a hugely technically experienced rower to get yourself across the Atlantic. And early stages of training must focus on the foundations of what it takes to get to the other side of the world’s second largest ocean: core strength, mobility and rowing technique.

Ensuring you have a good technique is the best way to get the most out of your body, and ensure you stay injury-free. But before heading out onto the water, it is important not to overdo machine work to avoid negative mental association.

The core
A strong core is needed to ensure rowing technique is at it’s maximum. A straight, strong back, for example, will prevent you collapsing at the catch – where the oar blade is placed in the water. This is how a rower makes sure maximum power is maintained throughout the stroke.

Strengthen up
Many endurance rowing coaches are advocates of weightlifting, as a sizeable portion of energy will come from anaerobic production

Bulk up
Put on weight – an Atlantic row will use up more calories than you are able to consume, essentially starving your body. That means it is vital you put on the weight before you go. The lower limits of recommended calorie intake per day of the journey is 5,000 calories – but the more the better.

Don’t pull with your arms
Most of your power should come from your legs. A healthy split is 60 per cent leg, 20 per cent core and 20 per cent arms. Over-reliance on arm strength will result in rapid fatigue. The foot plate should always be in contact with the whole of your foot. Being unable to keep your foot pinned down is a sign that your technique needs fine-tuning, to avoid unnecessary load on your hip.

Avoid fast strokes, and instead go for long powerful ones. A quicker stroke will feel messy and is more likely to tire you out. Rapid and messy movements also increase the risk of injury,

Set goals
A trip across the Atlantic will take way over one million strokes, so it is important to break the journey down into manageable chunks. Mark these off during each day and use the break in between each one to a different job – such as checking solar panels, cooking or cleaning.

Avoid the chafe
Keep an eye on clothing and hands on the oars, as rubbing and water can result in nasty calluses on your backside and hands. Many Atlantic rowers will tell you getting naked is the best way to go.

** Greg and Jude will be appearing at Southampton Boat Show from September 15 to 24. With a host of family-friendly attractions on offer, the show is the biggest of its kind in the UK and will feature more than 600 exhibiting brands and over 330 boats on the marina alone.

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