Ex Royal Marine Commando taking on epic cross ocean rowing challenge

A former Royal Marine commando from Ramsey is taking on a huge cross ocean rowing challenge in a bid to raise vital funds for charity.

By Stephen Briggs
Friday, 24th December 2021, 7:26 pm
Updated Friday, 24th December 2021, 7:37 pm
The rowing team
The rowing team

Mitchell Hutchcraft (28) has served his country across the world - and his experience will be vital as he and the rest of the team bid to row across the Atlantic Ocean in a seven metre long boat.

Mitchell will be joined by three friends - Jason Gardiner, Oscar Stone and Conor Patterson as they try and raise money for the Royal Marines Charity (RMC) .

Former Abbey College student Mitchell joined the marines aged 21, and only left earlier this year. He said; “I got the idea in April when a friend from marines asked whether I’d the up for rowing across an ocean and I said hell yes why not. Then I got added to a WhatsApp group and it all happened from there.

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The team prepare for the challenge

“The training has been a mix over the last 6 months but it included hundreds of thousands of meters rowing on the rowing machines and specific strength training in the gym as well as getting out on the boat itself a couple of times for an eight hour row.”

During the row, which is set to last around six weeks, and take them 3,000 miles, they will face a number physical and mental challenges- including isolation and cramped living conditions.

Mitchell said; “The challenges are many. Mainly being isolated on a tiny boat in very close quarters and having to deal with storms and potentially 30ft waves.

“Keeping motivated is the biggest challenge and navigating ourself across the ocean effectively.

“I am looking forward to being cut off in some ways from the outside world and love the idea is such a epic challenge and really can’t wait to see the limits of what I think is possible.

“Living conditions are 2 small cabins at the front and the back of the boat, with one person in each. There will be two people rowing for 2-3 hours at a time and then we will change over.”

The team themselves come from a variety of backgrounds.

Mitchell said; “I joined the marines in 2016 and served 3 years at 45 commando, working in the USA the Arctic circle, Eastern Europe and also deployed on UK migrant rescue missions in the Mediterranean. I then trained as a Heavy Weapons specialist and spent a further 2 years at 45 commando before leaving the Royal Marines in 2021. My motivation for rowing the Atlantic is to help raise funds for the RMC and also in memory of my dad to test the limits of what’s possible.

“Jason Gardiner joined the Royal Marines in 2007 and deployed to Afghanistan on Herrick 9 in 2008/9. Upon his return he represented the Navy Boxing Team for 2 years and eventually left the Marines at the end of 2011 and joining the Royal Marines reserves. While in the reserves he took park in a large scale Joint Forces exercise in California in 2014.

“Since leaving Jason has taken part in several gruelling fundraising endeavours for the Royal Marines Charity including the notorious Marathon Des Sables, a marathon a day for 6 days over the Sahara desert. He has also completed a 100 miles foot race in 29 hours. He is married with two children. He says he will cope by imagining them waiting at the finish line 3000 miles away and by having the occasional call on a satellite phone.

“The Atlantic Row has been on his bucket list for the last decade and he is looking forward to completing it. His motivation to finish comes from his strong mindset that once on the boat he will see himself as rowing home to his wife and kids.

“Oscar Stone grew up on a small farm in rural New Zealand where he developed a strong sense of adventure.

“Aged 18 he moved to the UK to join the Royal Marines and began training in Jan 2014. During his time in the marines he was lucky enough to spend time all over the world from the Polar regions of northern Norway, to the deserts of Oman and the tropical humidity of the far east in Vietnam and the South China Sea.

“He left the Marines in July this year to move back to NZ, but jumped at the opportunity to challenge himself in support of the Royal Marines Charity, a cause he feels strongly about.

“Conor Patterson is currently serving as an Officer in the Merchant Navy. Having been at sea for 8 years, he is taking a break from being on an 83 meter ship in exchange for a 7 meter rowing boat.

“His motivation for rowing the Atlantic stems from his passion of everything water based, and the opportunity to support the Royal Marines Charity, which has done much for his friends over the years.”

To follow the team’s progress, visit https://www.instagram.com/atlantic_dagger/