01 October 2010

Graduate sets world record for rowing around Great Britain

The two doctors

A University of Sheffield graduate has set a new world record after rowing around Great Britain.

Captain Nick Dennison, aged 28, who graduated from the University in June 2006 and is now a British Army doctor for the Royal Army Medical Corps, was joined by fellow doctor, Captain Hamish Reid, on his gruelling voyage which spanned 50 days. The doctors have become the first pair to row non-stop and unsupported around the British mainland.

The world record attempt, which kicked off on Wednesday 12 May 2010 from Lymington Yacht Haven, in Hampshire was successfully completed in a 24 foot ocean going rowing boat ‘Komale,’ and saw Nick and Hamish battle high seas, fierce winds and strong tides. Their efforts have raised £20,000 for both the Army Benevolent Fund and Help for Heroes.

The record attempt was dominated by tide cycles and the two officers alternated between rowing two hours on and two hours off in open seas and rested together at anchor in inshore waters. Their challenge saw them row up to 20 hours a day, with their sleep patterns dependent on weather conditions.

Both Nick and Hamish burnt an estimated 8000 calories per day and during the row the pair undertook scientific research into the calorific demands, similar to work done by Mike Stroud and Ranulph Fiennes on their polar expedition. Once their research has been analysed, it is hoped it will provide a new insight into the nutritional demands of prolonged exertion and physical degradation – an increasingly important component of current operations.

Nick, who is originally from Bristol and aims to become an anaesthetist, studied for a degree in Medicine at the University of Sheffield and is currently based in Bovington Camp in Dorset, home of the Royal Armoured Corps, where he looks after the staff and phase two recruits.

This is not the first time the University graduate and his colleague have completed a task of physical endurance together. The two officers first met at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst and recently completed the Devizes to Westminster canoe marathon. Nick also cycled from Land’s End to John O’Groats in 2008 and rowed competitively while at the University.

Nick said: “As expected, our progress has been entirely dependent on the weather particularly the wind direction and speed and the amount of rain. This has meant that we have seen everything from showers, sunny days with a tail wind to ferocious storms.”

Director General of the Army Medical Services, Major General Mike von Bertele said: “The achievement of these two young doctors cannot be underestimated; they have shown courage, discipline and integrity throughout the whole challenge, qualities essential for an officer in the British Army today. They are a credit to the Royal Army Medical Corps.”