World record rowing attempt gathers support

An elite team of rowers are aiming to be the first crew to travel across the Atlantic in less than 30 days, and an ambitious group of supporters are attempting to emulate the feat on dry land.

The eight-man Atlantic Trade Winds team, of which three are Scottish, is currently midway through their epic world-record attempt from the Canary Islands to Barbados in their rowing boat Avalon.

And to help raise awareness of the challenge, staff at sportscotland National Centre Cumbrae – Scotland’s premier watersports centre and instructor training facility – have challenged members of the public to help them match the 3,000 miles distance using indoor rowing machines.

Two of the Atlantic Trade Winds team are well-known to the Cumbrae staff and they wanted to do their bit to support the challenge.

Leven Brown, who is the skipper, finished his Yachtmaster course at the National Centre Cumbrae in July 2011, before going on to successfully complete the 18 week Professional Yachtmaster Training course (PYT). The staff admired Leven for his enthusiasm and the knowledge he has through his many ocean challenges and record attempts.


P:\Ocean Row Calum 400.jpg

Also on board Avalon is Calum McNicol, from West Kilbride, who is a former instructor at the National Centre Cumbrae. Although Calum (pictured above)has a huge wealth of experience in sailing and kayaking, and currently runs an adventure business on Arran, this is his first transatlantic row. As well as a personal challenge for Calum, he is hoping to raise £15,000 for Ayrshire Hospice.

The final Scottish crew member is Benno Rawlinson, from Abernethy, who has successfully made the transition from rugby to endurance sports, including taking on several ultra marathons and running 100 miles non-stop.

The sportscotland staff are asking members of the public to submit their weekly distance to them via Facebook, which will allow them to keep a running tally of all dry-land miles which are clocked up.

The PYT course, which has been completed by skipper Leven, is the only one of its kind in Scotland. It is ideal for those that dream of skippering a Super Yacht; delivering yachts across the oceans; getting involved in big boat racing; or confidently sailing their own yacht to sheltered anchorages. It equips sailors with all the necessary skills to gain their Yachtmaster certificate, an internationally recognised qualification.

Rod Smith, who is in charge of the delivery of the PYT programme at sportscotland National Centre Cumbrae, said: “It is a pleasure working with both the highly skilled instructors and students who are so obviously committed to a sport that I am passionate about.

“One of the most enjoyable parts of the course for me is sending our candidates out on ‘self-sail’ passages. There comes a point when you have to let them go solo, without an Instructor, as it’s part of their training and key step to becoming a Yachtmaster.

“A lot is learned when in charge and skipper of a vessel. I also think our students benefit from many of our non-certificated courses that contribute and add value to the PYT programme, sail repair, boat maintenance, rope splicing, and others.”

The next PYT course starts on 10th March, 2013. A course information pack is also available to download from the PYT section of Cumbrae’s website,

You can donate to Calum’s appeal and track the crew’s progress across the Atlantic on his website,

For more information about the PYT courses contact Rod Smith on 01475 530757.

  • Date published: 03 September 2013
  • Date updated: 04 May 2016
  • Published by: sportscotland