Swanton soldier embarks on epic adventure

A Norfolk soldier and three teammates are gearing up for an extraordinary challenge in the world's toughest rowing race.

While more than 2,700 people have climbed Mount Everest, more than 200 rowing boats have crossed the Atlantic Ocean and 12 people have walked on the moon, only 11 rowing boats have ever crossed the Indian Ocean.

But Captain James Kayll – a member of the Light Dragoons at Swanton Morley, near Dereham – will be part of the four-man crew embarking on the 3100-mile adventure from Western Australia to the paradise island of Mauritius.

They will set out next April and are looking to break the current record of 68 days, 19 hours and 40 minutes.

The team are likely to have to battle high seas, fierce winds and come face to face with inquisitive sharks.

What makes the challenge even more remarkable is that Captain Kayll, 28, brothers Ed and Ollie Wells, 30 and 28 respectively, and Tom Kelly, 28, have very little rowing experience.

On Saturday, they kicked off their serious training and took turns on indoor rowing machines in the fitness room at Robertson Barracks at Swanton Morley over a 12-hour period.

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They rotated two hours on, followed by two hours rest, which will simulate how they will operate on their epic voyage in a 29ft carbon fibre rowing boat which is currently being built for them in Cornwall.

'It is a lot of rowing!' joked Capt Kayll, who has been with the Light Dragoons since 2006 and has completed two tours of Afghanistan. 'We have had various reactions from 'rather you than me' to 'that is crazy!' We are certainly going in at the deep end. It is quite daunting but it will be amazing.'

Capt Kayll explained how the idea came about: 'Ed and Ollie sat down and decided they wanted to come up with a challenge and do something different and decided to row across the Atlantic and then thought it might be a bit boring! So the idea of the Indian Ocean came up and naturally we could not turn down the challenge.'

They are being trained by Dr Nick Knight, who has a PhD in exercise physiology and nutrition from Oxford University and was captain of the Oxford College Boat Club. He is helping them with all aspects of their preparation including diet, physical and mental conditions.

'It is pretty amazing what they are trying to do,' said Dr Knight. 'They are four ordinary guys and they are embarking what would be considered an insurmountable feat.'

They need to find the �100,000 cost of funding the trip including the boat, equipment, supplies, flights and accommodation. They have some sponsorship and are looking for more backing, while aiming to raise a further �100,000 for four charities: the Mark Evison Foundation, the Light Dragoons Charitable Trust, Compassion UK and Access Sport.

Mr Kelly works for property company in London, Ed Wells is a London-based headhunter and his brother is a surveyor, and during the journey the four men will undertake physiological and oceanographic research.

Tests on the men will provide an insight into how the body and mind cope under extreme pressure while sensors on their boat will help the National Oceanographic Centre map and predict changes in the global climate.

lFor more on the team and how to support them visit www.indianocean3100.com