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UAE-based rowing duo train for 5,000km Atlantic voyage

Two Egyptian friends, Omar Nour and Omar Samra, are training off the UAE’s coast in their small boat

  • More people have gone to space or climbed Everest, than successfully rowed across an oceanImage Credit:
  • Mountain and Polar Adventurer Omar Samra is preparing to row 5000km across the Atlantic OceanImage Credit:
  • The pair, dubbed O2, are preparing for their Atlantic crossing in the UAEImage Credit:
Gulf News

Dubai: A UAE-based duo are set to make a 5,000-kilometre journey across the Atlantic in a small rowing boat.

On December 12, the two friends — who are both seasoned adventurers and athletes — will set off from Spanish Canary Islands, off the coast of Africa. From there, they will sail all the way to the Caribbean island of Antigua.

The duo, who are both Egyptian, first met in 2013. Omar Samra, an adventurer and UN goodwill ambassador, was the first Egyptian to climb Mount Everest. Omar Nour, meanwhile, a professional triathlete, represents Egypt on the Olympic triathlon circuit.

The adventure is formally known as the Atlantic Challenge, an annual race which sees teams of one to four rowers each to make the journey unassisted.

Last year, 12 teams from six countries took part. All but one completed the journey.

Under the rules, no outside assistance is permitted throughout the crossing.

The first successful Atlantic Ocean crossing was completed by two British yachtsman in 1966 — in a six-metre-long boat. The journey took 92 days, and saw the two battle hurricanes, 50-foot waves and near starvation.

Fortunately for the UAE duo, boats have come a long way since then. Their vessel is approximately 7.5m long x 1.8m wide, and built of wood, fibre glass, carbon fibre and Kevlar.

It is equipped with a water-maker to change seawater into drinking water.

Also on-board are solar panels to power GPS and other vital electrical equipment; 90 days’ worth of food rations; first-aid kits and tracking beacons, and communication equipment.

The boat also has a small cabin. To prepare for the perilous crossing, the two friends are using their boat off the coast of the UAE, and aim to complete 1,600 nautical kilometres of training.

“While Omar (Samra) and I are accomplished in mountaineering and triathlon, when it comes to rowing an ocean, we’re starting from scratch,” said Nour.

“In fact, we had never been in a rowing boat until just a short month ago! But we’re both firm believers that anything is possible if you put your mind to it.”