Five friends who call themselves Team Essence – aka the ‘rogues of ocean rowing’ – are currently crossing the north Atlantic to raise £250,000 for the NSPCC.
They met through the armed forces and include former Houghton Regis Upper School student Jason ‘Foxy’ Fox, 39, the star of Channel 4’s SAS Who Dares Wins.
He and fellow rogues Aldo Kane, Matt Bennett, Oliver Bailey and Ross Johnson set off from Lagos in Portugal last month and hope to reach Venezuela next Monday (March 28).
They’re also aiming to claim a world record for completing the 3,807 mile journey unsupported.
Foxy’s background in the services was pretty hair-raising and no doubt prepared him for the hardships they’re currently experiencing on the ocean wave.
He left school at 16 and joined the Royal Marines, a lifelong ambition.
He recalled: “I did 10 years with them then spent another 10 in the SBS (Special Boat Service).
“I got in just as everything kicked off globally so I was on back-to-back tours for a decade.” He was discharged in 2012 suffering from PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) and, with a friend, set up the charity Rock to Recovery to support veterans facing similar issues.
Foxy has been open about PTSD both in front of the camera and behind it, as a campaigner and motivational speaker.
He said: “We hope we can reach out to those suffering alone and encourage them to accept support. Rock to Recovery is inspiring the fight against stress in the armed forces, for veterans and their families.”
Team Essence is rowing 24 hours a day – two hours on and two hours off. It’s physically and mentally challenging and they’ve already capsized three time, been followed by sharks, encountered tough weather conditions and mountainous swells together with long dark nights.
In addition they lost their trainers in the first week as well as one of only two poo buckets on board.
They’ve vowed never to eat chilli again as it’s the only ration left and is now on the menu for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
When the quintet reach Venezeula, they will row on to Trinidad for some R&R.
They call themselves the ‘rogues of ocean rowing’ because they don’t have a shred of rowing experience between them - in spite of the fact Team Essence comprises three ex-Marines, one ex-heavyweight boxer and banker Oli, described by the others as a ‘one man power machine.’
Foxy said a mixture of pain, fear, determination and camaraderie has kept them going.
He added: “We set off knowing that rowing an ocean would present a multitude of scenarios that would push us emotionally. The main emotion to emerge is fear. Mother Nature is strong and formidable and will easily excite that inside you.
“But it should be acknowledged and respected, it’s there to keep you focused and alive.”
> Follow their progress at Facebook@teamessencerow