200 mile epic row from France's Mont St Michel to St Michael's Mount in aid of Shelterbox
June 12, 2012 at 5:44 AM
This July, St Aubyn Estates and St Michael's Mount Chief Executive Rob Abernethy and Managing Director of Synergy Mike Noel-Smith will attempt an adventurous non-stop row of over 200 miles from Mont St Michel in Normandy, France to their home port - St Michael’s Mount in Marazion, Cornwall.
The duration of the row is expected to be between 2-4 days and will involve crossing the busiest shipping lane in the world. The project is in support of disaster relief charity ShelterBox and is being sponsored by St Aubyn Estates, international architects firm MRDA and renowned Cornish brewery, Sharp’s.
As well as being a sporting challenge, the row also mirrors a voyage that was often travelled by medieval monks from their French abbey on Mont St Michel to their priory on St Michael’s Mount over 600 years ago. It is thought that this is the first time the route has been attempted in a rowing boat since medieval times.
James St Aubyn, from St Michael’s Mount, said: ‘For more than 300 years from the 11th to the 14th century, St Michael’s Mount was a daughter priory of Mont St Michel. One theory is that young Norman monks were sent to Cornwall to test their fortitude and it is not difficult to imagine them starting their assignment by rowing from the Mont to the Mount.’
Rob Abernethy and Mike Noel-Smith have previous endurance history after rowing more than 2000 miles across the Indian Ocean in 2003 raising vital funds for charity. For the Mont 2 Mount challenge, they will be joined by Mike’s two sons, Harry and Will, who both have significant sports endurance experience.
Rob Abernethy was in the Brigade of Gurkhas for ten years, has completed three Ironman events and had a brief spell as a professional rugby player before injury forced retirement both from the Gurkhas and rugby.
He joined St Aubyn Estates and St Michael’s Mount as Chief Executive in 2008 and says of the exciting challenge ahead: ‘This is not only a great opportunity to retrace a voyage that was common practice over 600 years ago, it also raises significant funds for an extraordinary Cornish charity in ShelterBox. We hope that our voyage will provide valuable information for an attempt to be made next year by Mount’s Bay Pilot Gig Club.'
Mike spent 18 years as an infantry officer in the British Army. He then spent three years as Operations Manager of Challenger World before taking the post of Director of Training at Insights Ltd under Will Carling then, the England Rugby Captain and is currently the MD of Synergy. He is a keen ski mountaineer and rock climber, having led expeditions over much of the Alps, volcanoes in Mexico, the mountains of Africa as well the jungles of Central America.
It is intended that the row will raise vital funds and awareness for international disaster relief charity ShelterBox. ShelterBox are hugely supportive of the Mont 2 Mount row with John Leach, the Chief Operating Officer commenting on the relationship: “ShelterBox are delighted to be involved in this historic challenge. As an international disaster relief charity we have some of the most up to date and specialised systems and equipment for survival in hostile conditions available for our own volunteers.
“This includes weather forecasts direct from the Met Office and the latest tracking equipment. We are happy to advise the Mont to Mount crew on these matters during their training and wish them the very best of luck during this exciting endurance challenge.'
As well as being the beneficiaries of the team's fundraising efforts, ShelterBox are also offering logistical support and advice during the crew's training.
Cornish brewery, Sharp's, based in Rock is a proud sponsor of the event. Emma Bebbington, General Manager at Sharp’s Brewery said, “We’re delighted to be supporting the rowers in what is a brave and very honorable undertaking. The training kit we are providing to the rowers as they gear up for their voyage will hopefully stand them in good stead for this grueling challenge - we look forward to cheering them on when the day comes. We’re also really pleased to be working closely with ShelterBox on this project. They’re a great Cornish charity who give much needed aid to some of the most desperate people in the world and we hope lots of money will be raised for this very worthwhile cause.”
It is hoped that this year’s challenge will pave the way for a crew of gig rowers from Mounts Bay Pilot Gig Club to complete the same route next year in a Cornish Gig with a view to making it a long-term annual event. This year’s team is now in full training to prepare for this epic feat that will make history and celebrate a strong long-standing relationship between St Michael’s Mount and Mont St Michel.
You will be able to follow the row online via a live tracking beacon on the row's official website www.mont2mountrow.com
Secure donations can be given by clicking on our dedicated JustGiving page http://www.justgiving.com/mont2mount or via JustGiving text by texting MONT47 followed by an amount (i.e. £1, £2, £3.50, £10) to 70070 – this is a free service with no charges and 100% of the money going to charity.