The ORS Int. is the official adjudicator of ocean rowing records for Guinness World Records


Rowers plan ocean challenge

17th February 2003 

Two British adventurers were today announcing a record-breaking attempt to row more than 4,000 miles across the Indian Ocean. 

Ex-Army officers Mike Noel-Smith, 45, and Rob Abernethy, 30, are planning to row from western Australia to Africa in the hope of raising £250,000 for children's charity Sparks. 

The friends are flying to the west coast of Australia at the start of April where they will acclimatise for a month before setting off on their voyage. 

They are planning to launch from the western Australian region of Kalbarri for the 4,400-mile journey to the French Department of Reunion Island, which lies east of Madagascar. 

Yachtswoman Tracey Edwards and Olympic rowers Greg Searle and Tim Foster, all supporters of Sparks, were attending the launch at the London offices of the voyage sponsor, online betting firm 

Married father-of-three Mike, a consultant in business leadership who left the Army in 1992, and Rob, who ended his military career in 1999 and is a current employee of, hope to return to the UK early in July. 

The pair are attempting to smash by 14 days the unofficial 64-day record set in 1971 by Swede Anders Svedlund. 

They have been undertaking an intensive training programme under the guidance of British Olympic triathlon coach Bill Black. 

The attempt will be carried out without support vessels in an ocean notoriously susceptible to tropical cyclones. 

The boat is kitted out with GPS navigation and communication equipment and the team will be relying on its own full-time meteorologist in Australia to give information on weather and currents. 

The funds raised by the attempt will fund a Portsmouth University team doing Sparks-linked research into how to combat the effects of bacterial septicaemia. 

This form of meningitis has an 80% fatality rate and survivors are often left with severe disabilities. 

The public can follow the duo's progress on a specially created website ( and can find out how to support the row via the Sparks website (