UAE-based duo to row across the Atlantic
More people have been to space and climbed Mount Everest than have successfully rowed the across the Atlantic Ocean. That is the challenge that awaits two Dubai-based adventuerers later this year as they have announced their intentions to add their names to that exclusive list.
Playfully dubbing themselves "O2", Omar Samra - who was awarded the Esquire Man At His Best Award in 2016 for his humanitarian contributions - and professional triathlete Omar Nour have decided to row 5,000 nautical kilometres across the world's second largest ocean, leaving on December 12, 2017.
The unsupported (and perilous) trip will see the two Egyptians leaving from San Sebastian, La Gomera in the Spanish Canary Islands and not hitting shore until they arrive in Nelson’s Dockyard English Harbour, Antigua.
The two first met in 2013 and became firm friends, united by a passion for sports and adventure. Samra, an adventurer, entrepreneur, motivational speaker, future astronaut, and U.N. goodwill ambassador, was the first Egyptian to climb Everest, the 7 Summits (the highest mountain in each of the seven continents) and ski to both the North and South Pole. The feat, dubbed ‘The Explorer’s Grand Slam’ has been completed by less than 40 people in history.
Professional triathlete, Omar Nour, represents Egypt on the Olympic triathlon circuit and is the fastest Arabic-speaking triathlete in the world. His journey to an elite athlete was unusual – at age 29 he weighed in at 105kg and signed up for this first triathlon after ripping his suit pants (twice!) getting into his car. Just two short years later (and 30kgs lighter) Nour earned his pro-card and started his professional triathlon career at age 31.
“After completing the 7-Summits in 2013, I started looking for my next adventure. The idea of completing a human-powered ocean-crossing always intrigued me, but I knew that this was one perilous adventure I couldn’t do alone. I immediately started looking for a team mate – it takes a certain kind of person to keep going when faced with 50-foot waves, blisters, salt rash, sharks and sleep deprivation! When an injury side-lined Omar (Nour) from the Rio 2016 Olympics, I knew I’d found my man.” said Samra.
“Our personalities are worlds apart – his contagious energy and winning attitude complements my calm demeanor and ability to deal with high pressure situations. Together, we make a formidable team!” Samra added.
No outside assistance is permitted throughout the crossing – once O2 leave the safety of the harbour they’ll be alone, completely unsupported in the vast ocean and at the mercy of the elements.
The first successful Atlantic Ocean crossing was completed by Sir Chay Blyth and John Ridgeway in 1966 – a 92-day battle against hurricanes, 50 foot waves and near starvation. The boats have come a long way since that inaugural crossing – O2’s 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 the sea water into drinking water; solar panels to power GPS and other vital electrical equipment; 90 days’ worth of food rations; first-aid kits; tracking beacons; an ‘AIS’ allowing O2 to communicate with passing vessels; a satellite telephone and specially designed laptop called a ‘tough book’ to allow O2 to communicate with the outside world, even when they’re 2,500 km from dry land.
The boat has a small cabin, which is the only protection O2 will have against the might of the ocean. When the weather proves too much for the boat and it capsizes, it is able to self-right.
O2 have chosen the UAE as their base as they prepare for their perilous journey – this includes flying their boat to the UAE in order for them to complete 1,600 nautical kilometres of training off the coast of the country.