John Higson - Atlantic Rowing Race. (31/10/2011)


The Race


The Woodvale Challenge, Atlantic Rowing Race 2011 is due to begin on the 4th December 2011.  This years pairs race is currently expecting to see at least 9 boats compete (entries from all over the world) for the fastest crossing time.  The average can be expected to take around 70 days, with the quickest being a little fewer than 50 in good weather.   All the boats have to be entirely self-sufficient and carry with them supplies to last 90 days at sea for the entire crew.


The Crew


John Higson:


I began my studies at Edinburgh University in 2002 and graduated in 2009 before enrolling in my current PhD with St Andrews University.  Taking up rowing upon arrival at university I was quickly scouted from the novice squad to the senior men’s first VIII within my fist term at university.  Having competed within the universities first VIII since then and first IV since 2003 I was selected for the universities sports bursary scheme in 2003/04 season and have over the years devoted my time and life to the sport, appointed captain of the squad in 2005/06 and vice-president of the club in the following season.  I was awarded the clubs oarsman of the year in 2005, 2007 and a ‘lifetime’ achievement award in 2009, I have picked up wins at the Scottish Universities Regatta and Scottish Championships, finaled at the British Universities Regatta and competed in the Head of the Charles, Boston (USA) and Henley Royal Regatta.
I also enjoy mountain climbing and have spent many-a holiday in the mountains of Snowdonia and the Highlands of Scotland, having climbed Ben Nevis during the night to watch the sun rise I enjoy the challenge of achieving something different.
In our attempt to cross the Atlantic Ocean I will be doing everything I can both physically and mentally to not only complete the challenge but to cross the finish line in the fastest time possible.


Barny Mabbs:

I have always sought to push my boundaries, experience new personal challenges and “get out of my comfort zone”. Rowing the Atlantic has been an ambition for the last ten years; a desire that has kept smouldering away, although, from experience, finding a partner willing to offer the same passion and commitment is one of the biggest challenges!

Being a reservist in the Royal Logistic Corps has allowed me opportunities rare in civilian life. I have been fortunate to have spent time on a community development mission in Uganda with the University OTC and trekked for four days along a route which followed the White Nile. Days spent out in the Brecon Beacons were a good preparation, albeit swapping snow and rain for equatorial heat!

These days, most of my training out of the boat is standard land rowing and I have completed several 100km rows in preparation for the endurance that ocean rowing demands. Time away from rowing is usually spent mountain biking or shooting traditional longbow, but as the focus moves towards this gruelling challenge I am relishing the prospect of joining John, a highly experienced and skilled oarsman, to compete in the world’s toughest rowing race.

Llandaff Rowing Club, Cardiff, from the age of 16
St. Andrews University Boat Club, having competed in the 1st VIII and in fours at head races throughout Scotland
St Andrew Boat Club, Edinburgh, competing in rowing and sculling at the Scottish Championships



The Boat

Winner of the 2005 race against TV’s Ben Fogle and Olympic rower James Cracknell


Year of build: 2004
Designer: Phil Morrison.
Builder: Rowsell Adkins, Exmouth, Devon
Construction: GRP mainly single skin with longitudinal and lateral stringers and partial bulkheads. Vacuum infused resin hull with female mould. Deck is mainly epoxy coated plywood with composite cored carbon fibre reinforced resin cabins.
Keel configuration: Long shallow integral moulded keel.
LOA: 24ft nominal
We will be racing in the Woodvale Pairs Class boat, specifically designed for ocean rowing and currently the most successfully rowed model.  Our boat has already successfully raced the Atlantic twice, and only recently returned from racing round Great Britain.  The boat itself has a somewhat compact cabin at the rear where during rough weather (of which we hope there is little) both of us will have to sleep. She will weigh in, when fully laden, a little over a tonne!




In our bid to win the Atlantic Rowing Race 2011, we are raising money for Cancer Research UK, a charity very close to family hearts and a very worth and inspirational cause.

We have a race website with a link to fundraising that you can find the link to our Virgin Money Giving site on, or simply search ‘Virgin Money Giving Team H2rOw’

Our website is: www.h2row.com

Donations can also be made in person to Mrs Janice Higson in Natwest, Abersoch, the mother and on-shore worrier of/for John.


Thank you for your support and interest,


John and Barny



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