Alumnus takes on epic rowing challenge

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He is preparing to take on what is considered to be the world’s toughest rowing challenge, rowing 3,000 miles from Gran Canaria to Barbados across the Atlantic, and he will be doing it with his family at his side.

University of Southampton alumnus and junior doctor Greg Bailey (BMBS Medicine and BMedSc, 2014) and step-brother Jude Massey will be battling hurricanes and shark-infested waters to raise money for a cause close to their hearts

The pair are bidding to raise £100,000 for the British Skin Foundation to fund research into skin cancer, a condition which claimed the life of Greg’s step-father and Jude’s father Peter Massey. Their 21-foot ocean rowing boat is named ‘Pete’ in memory of the Hampshire businessman.

Greg’s love of the ocean was one of the reasons that drew him to study at the University, which was also close to home, having grown up on the Isle of Wight and in the New Forest.

Greg remembers his University days fondly. He says:

Southampton had the perfect balance of being close to the sea with all it had to offer, as well as the sea cliffs down at Swanage in Dorset for excellent climbing.

“Southampton has world-class training in medicine and I was very proud to graduate in 2014. Southampton was integral in my pathway to this challenge; having such close access to the Solent, you meet so many people who love the sea and this helped me form my ideas. There are strong maritime connections all around.”

It was while Greg was at the University that Peter was diagnosed with skin cancer.  Recurrent operations to remove the cancer left him suffering facial disfigurement and, sadly, Peter died in 2015.

The brothers hope that taking on the challenge in January 2018 will raise vital awareness of skin cancer

Greg says: “We felt that a challenge of this scale would get the important message out to protect your skin in the sun. One episode of painful sunburn every two years trebles your risk of skin cancer.”

Whilst being at sea for such a long time may be an issue for some, Greg is looking forward to it.

“We row day and night 24 hours a day in alternating shifts of two hours on and off with one asleep whilst one rows,” says Greg.

I am most looking forward to the clear and starry nights without any light pollution thousands of miles out in the middle of the Atlantic with no one else around

However, Greg is aware of the challenges that face them both, he says: “Managing the unusual social isolation of being on a boat you can’t get off, with only one other person for two months will be a challenge.

“It could also be scraping the barnacles off the hull of the boat to ensure resistance in the water is kept to a minus whilst having previously seen the dorsal fins of sharks following you.”

The pair undertook training rows throughout October in preparation for taking on the main challenge on 15 January 2018. You can follow their journey from coast-to-coast by visiting their website. Good luck!

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