Rowers faring well in the first third of 24-hour expedition

SINGAPORE - The first third of a 24-hour charity rowing event has been mostly smooth sailing, and the rowers taking turns to propel the two participating Cornish pilot gigs are rocking to music.

These rowers volunteered to embark on the one-day expedition called Mission Row Around Singapore Island 2015 to raise $750,000 for charity Mission to Seafarers, which aids sailors around the world by providing them practical and emotional support as they are usually out at sea for months.

This is the first time such a charity event has been organised.

So far, more than $450,000 has been raised through corporate donations.

At 11am on Wednesday, the 32 rowers began their 140km-long journey around Singapore island.

Each rower is assigned six rowing shifts. Those not rowing can rest in a flotilla accompanying the two boats through the expedition.

By about 5.30pm, the first quarter of the route had been covered.

The Straits Times spoke to one of the rowers, Mr Lucas Atkin, while he was resting in the flotilla. By then, he had completed two shifts and rowed a total of three hours.

However, he was not yet fatigued. "I feel good," said the 29-year-old shipping lawyer. "It was really enjoyable, and it was not too hot."

Another rower, maritime lawyer Iain Anderson, 42, shared his sentiments. "It was a very, very good start. We're lucky to have had a sea breeze and we haven't had any rain so far."

While the first leg of the journey proved manageable, the rowers did face some ups and downs.

"We had some very choppy water and wind against us between Jurong Island and Tuas Point that was very challenging," said Mr Anderson. "You're rocking all the time and it's hard to keep the oars in the water."

They also had to dodge a big tanker along the way.

This has not deterred the rowers, however. To keep the energy high, they play music and sing along to oldies.

"The best moment so far was when one of the rowers brought his bluetooth radio and we started singing to 1980s songs," recounted Mr Anderson.

The rowers hope to pick up the pace as they approach the Causeway, but Mr Anderson is confident that they will be able to complete their journey within 24 hours as planned.

He said: "The other rowers are in great spirits and there have been no mishaps. We're still all smiles."

rtan@sph.com