Ex-Northampton soldier pledges to raise £100,000 in Atlantic charity row

Alan Bustin-Mulkern
Alan Bustin-Mulkern
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A former soldier from Northampton will row across the Atlantic Ocean in a bid to raise £100,000 for the British Army’s national charity.

Alan Bustin-Mulkern, a volunteer from the Leicestershire, Northamptonshire and Rutland Army Cadet Force (LNR ACF), is raising funds for the Army Benevolent Fund by taking part in the 2017 Talisker Whiskey Atlantic Challenge.

Alan Bustin-Mulkern

Alan Bustin-Mulkern

The 47-year-old will row 3,000 nautical miles from San Sebastian in the Canary Islands to Nelson’s Dockyard in Antigua on December 12.

Mr Bustin-Mulkern said: “The Atlantic Challenge is something I’ve wanted to do since I saw James Cracknell and Ben Fogle take it on.

“It’s a fairly unique, niche type of activity but is everything that a real adventure should be. Practical, emotional, technical and remorselessly physical.

“The plan as a pair was to complete the challenge in 45 days or less, but if I do it solo the aim will be to complete it in 60 days. My boat was taken across the Atlantic last year in 58 days, so I know that it’s definitely doable.

“So much depends on the weather but I will be happy to know I’ve just done the best that I can.”

The former member of the 4/73 Battery of the 5th Regiment Royal Artillery has set up the Row West 2017 team for the event, but he is unsure as to whether he will take on the challenge solo or with a partner.

The ex-soldier started rowing last year and will need an estimated 1.5 million oar strokes to propel the 10-metre vessel with a sleeping cabin across the Atlantic.

Mr Bustin-Mulkern is currently receiving nutrition and psychology advice as well as fitness training from the University of Northampton in a bid to complete the feat.

He added: “While I’ve never done anything on this scale before, I have done a lot of Ultra Marathons in the past, some of them over six days where I’ve covered over 175 miles. I’ve also done a lot of winter mountaineering in the French Alps, but this is my first water-based challenge.

“When you’re in the middle of the Atlantic you can be further from another human than Tim Peake was while on the International Space Station. I’m really looking forward to seeing the sea life out there and also seeing the night sky without light pollution. I’ve been told that’s absolutely incredible to see.”

Though the race isn’t until December, he is already raising money to get the boat ready for action, which is currently hosted at 104 Battalion Royal Electrical Mechanical Engineers at its HQ at the Army Reserve Centre in Northampton.

He said: “I need to raise about £70,000 to transport the boat to and from the start and finish. If I can get fully funded then as soon as the race is over, I will be selling the boat and equipment and donating the money raised from that to the ABF.”