The Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge – The Toughest Rowing Race in the World

The Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge is considered the toughest rowing race in the world (Photo Credit:Talkiser) Every year there are between 20 and 40 boats from all over the world. Women and men. In 1x, 2x, 3x, 4x and 5x – About 1.5 million rowing strokes to the finish line.

Preparations for 2021

As in 2019 and 2020, German-speaking teams from Germany, Austria and Switzerland will again be present in 2021. A Swiss crew wants to participate in this event in December 2021 and cross the Atlantic. By rowing boat. As we have learned from Switzerland, Samuel Widmer, Jan Hurni, Roman Möckli and Ingvar Groza want to cover the 5,000 km (approx. 3,000 nautical miles) in 29 days. That would be a world record. No Sunday walk as D. Weissenbrunner comments in the Aargauer Zeitung.

There is therefore much to be done over the next 18 months. To get an idea of what teams will be doing during this time, here is a list of activities:


Such a trip cannot be made without sponsors. Although the main sponsor Talisker Whisky bears part of the costs, the teams have to pay between 150,000 and 200,000 euros. There are teams that made it with 100.000. But many others had to take out loans.

Find Your Boat

Das Team: Samuel Widmer (v. r.), Jan Hurni, Roman Möckli und Ingvar Groza.

Team Switzerland: Samuel Widmer (v. r.), Jan Hurni, Roman Möckli und Ingvar Groza. © zvg, Aargauer Zeitung

Each team brings its own boat. There are some crews who have a boat built to their specifications, others buy used fours from past races.

These boats are not simple rowing boats as we know them from the clubs. They are packed full of high tech like navigation devices and means of communication. Some of them originally even come from the space industry.


The athletes are on the road for at least a month. In any wind and weather. These are enormous strains for the whole body. Even if you take turns. It will therefore almost inevitably have the following physical effects:

  • Blisters and ulcerations
  • Back pain and pulled ribs
  • Skin abrasions and tendon changes
  • In extreme cases even broken limbs

Although there are support yachts and race doctors who are on the road. But what athlete wants to go to the doctor in the middle of a race if his finger is broken.

Atlantik Überquerung Credit:


  • Ergo: Endurance and strong skeletal muscles are important. You need strong legs, back and arm muscles. Training sessions on the rowing machine are important and above all make you mentally fit.
  • Weight: It can be assumed that more than 10 kg will be lost through the race. Rowers are therefore well advised to gain weight beforehand, including body fat.perfett.
  • Elasticity and flexibility. This is not only important for “normal athletes. Especially in this “moster race”, tendons, fasciae, etc. are extremely stressed.
  • Row, row, row your boat: The most important thing. Spend as much time as possible between fund raising and technical preparation in the rowing boat – together.
  • Rowing in wind and weather: On the ocean you will find winds and waves you have never experienced before. 5m high and more. Gale force winds and waves that make the boat go over 25 km fast.
  • Good for preparation: Take part in a Coastal Rowing Regatta in advance. However: This is not even 50% of what will come. But you get a feeling how it could look like.
  • There are teams that have changed their training schedule to ocean rowing.

Change of diet

The athletes lose well over 10 kg during this time. It is therefore important to have protein-rich food and energy boosters on board.

High Tech / On-Board Equipment

The rowers need certain licenses to be able to operate their high-tech equipment properly. Do you have an idea what is on board? Here’s a list of what the organizers require:

    1. Life raft
    2. Life jacket
    3. EPIRB
    4. PLB per crew member
    5. Safety harness and line
    6. Satellite telephone
    7. AiS
    8. A jackstay both on deck level and at shoulder level should run the length of the cockpit and be securely fastened.
    9. Grab Bag
    10. Rated safety harness and line
    11. Safety clothing
    12. Flares
    13. Fire extinguisher
    14. Medical kit
    15. Signal mirror
    16. Safety knife
    17. AIS Radar transponder
    18. Satellite telephone
    19. VHF radio
    20. GPS
    21. Water maker
    22. Navigation light
    23. Suitable power supply
    24. External grab lines
    25. Compass
    26. Suitable food stores
    27. Suitable cooking device
    28. Para anchor
    29. Drogues
    30. Bilge pump
    31. Anchor
    32. Tool kit
    33. Spares

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