A Teignmouth water sports instructor, who has spent over ten years helping competitors prepare for the World’s Toughest Row Atlantic Challenge, will finally practice what he preaches when he participates in the gruelling event later this year.

Tim Cox, who runs SeaSports South West in Teignmouth, will compete with friend Andy Purvis. The pair will set sail from La Gomera in the Canary Islands on December 12 and hope to cover the 3000 miles to Nelson’s Dockyard in Antigua and Barbuda in around 40-50 days.

More people have climbed Everest than rowed the Atlantic.

Tim is no stranger to the transatlantic rowing challenge; he has been providing safety instruction and weather routing services to transatlantic rowers since 2012.

Family and friends are unsurprised he’s made the jump from instructor to participant. ‘It’s going to be strange to be the customer and not the provider,’ he commented.

Tim met crewmate Andy when he was teaching him on a safety course. Andy had been due to row across the Atlantic last year but his original crew-mate had to pull out so Andy needed to defer his race plans and find a new partner.

‘When he said he wanted me to come out to Antigua for the finish, I didn’t realise quite what he meant,’ jokes Cox.

The pair will be rowing as the ‘Oar Mighty Mates 2C’ on a 7.3m fibreglass Rannoch Adventure boat.

Parked on a trailer outside Seasports SW, the vessel looks tiny. The first question that comes to mind is about toileting. Cox reveals a bucket and bottle. Purvis has the same and each are named to prevent cross-contamination and reduce the risk of them both being ill.

Toilet facilities for the World's Toughest Row Atlantic Challenge
Toilet facilities on board are basic (Jo Bowery)

The pair will take it in turns to row with two hours on and two hours off, although the two hours of rest won’t always involve sleep, but also maintenance tasks and eating.

Apart from the challenge of learning to face backwards in a boat - Cox jokes that he’s normally used to facing forward – the pair agree that capsizing is likely to be the scariest part of the trip. ‘But if it’s not scary, then what’s the point of doing it?’ Andy stated.

However, the isolation, seeing the stars in the sky at night, ‘being a speck in the ocean’, and seeing wildlife like whales, dolphins and turtles will make. ‘I want to enjoy it. It’s a once in a lifetime experience,’ Tim added.

As well as the physical challenges of competing, the pair hope to raise £50,000 for Dementia UK and Abigail’s Footsteps. Sponsors can donate £50 to ‘feed a rower for a day’, buy space on an oar or the boat, or donate useful equipment for the crossing. There’s also a fundraising party at Teignmouth Yacht Club on July 20.

Will the trip change them? Definitely. ‘I think we’ll see life differently because we will have spent so long out in the middle of the ocean. I think we’ll appreciate life more,’ said Andy.