Shrewsbury School

Salopian Atlantic Rowers reach journey's end

Tuesday 4 February 2014

Old Salopians Harry Martin-Dreyer and Alex Bland (both Rt 2000-05) have safely reached Barbados after rowing 3,000-miles across the Atlantic. They crossed the finish line at 13.48 GMT on Saturday 1st February, 50 days after setting off from Gran Canaria.

Meanwhile a third Old Salopian, Dan Howie (Ch 1998-03) and his friend Will North have also rowed across the Atlantic, taking part in the fearsome Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge. They finished on Sunday 26th January as race champions in their class.

Harry Martin-Dreyer and Alex Bland

Harry and Alex were greeted in Port St Charles by delighted family, friends and locals. And it turned into a double celebration when Harry proposed to his girlfriend a few minutes after arriving. “I am delighted to say that my girlfriend and future wife, Lucy Plant, said yes when I got on/fell to one knee.”

The pair were provided with a meal at the local yacht club. Alex said, “The PSC yacht club produced the most amazing starter of burger, followed by steak washed down with cold beer… What more could we have asked for!”

In an interview later with Shrewsbury-based journalist Katy Rink for an article in the Daily Mail, Harry and Alex were asked if they had managed to remain friends. In his reply, Harry said, “I know some people who have done this have walked away and never spoken again, but this has brought a new dimension to our friendship. We've known each other a long time – we used to share a boarding house – we were determined to look after one another. It was about coming off a two-hour shift and just being kind to the other person, making sure they were alright and caring for them."

Harry and Alex have raised more than £143,000 for their nominated charities Cure Leukaemia and Juvenile Diabetes Research.

To read their blog and to follow their incredible adventure, please see

Their story was also featured in the Daily Mail. To see the Mail Online article, please see: Atlantic Rowers - Mail Online, 6th January 2014

Meanwhile another Old Salopian, Dan Howie (Ch 1998-03) and his friend Will North have also been rowing across the Atlantic, taking part in the world's toughest rowing race, the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge. They arrived safely into English Harbour, Antigua on Sunday 26th January and were delighted to learn that they were race champions in the pairs class.

“We are ecstatic to have won our class in the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge," said Dan. "Nothing could have prepared us for the treacherous conditions at sea and it feels phenomenal to have overcome the challenges and won our class. Thank you to all who have supported us along the way.”

“We had a real ding-dong with the crew behind us which by chance happened to be made up of a Harrovian and Etonian! So school pride was at stake definitely!”

They have raised nearly £150,000 for three charities close to their hearts: Cancer Research UK, Leukemia & Lymphoma Research and St Anna’s. Rowing 24 hours a day in alternate two-hour shifts, Dan and Will survived on freeze-dried food rations and dealt with excruciating sores as they battled though a series of testing circumstances - waves reaching up to 50ft, the dangers of rowing in a major shipping lane, deadly wildlife, physical exhaustion and sleep deprivation. There were some morale-boosting highlights too though, including dolphin sightings and being flanked by a pod of whales.

Romantically, Dan also marked his safe arrival in Barbados by proposing to his girlfriend. (When he heard later about Harry and Lucy, he said, "There must be something in the water.")

To read their blog, please see -, where you will also be able to view some of the videos the race organisers made about the battle for the pairs title.

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