FOUR North Berwick men are preparing to embark on the challenge of a lifetime and row across the Atlantic Ocean next December for charity.

The men have signed up to take part in next year’s Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge, which will see them compete in a race from the Canary Islands to Antigua, a journey of 3,000 miles.

The challenge is known as “the world’s toughest row”.

The men taking part in the challenge are Ian Baird, 39, a graphic designer; Duncan Hughes, 39, a director of Forth Bridge Stevedoring, which runs port facilities at Inverkeithing and Clydebank ; 43-year-old Ross McKinney, a company director and civil engineer; and 40-year-old project manager Clive Rooney.

The men are all members of North Berwick Rowing Club.

Joining them is 32-year-old Fraser Potter, from Perthshire, who runs events company LovEvents and has never rowed before but is a keen adventurer and sportsman.

The team – called Five in a Row – will, during the challenge, row 24 hours a day, seven days a week for between five and six weeks, living on a 28ft boat. The men will each take turns rowing, completing two-hour shifts each.

Each of them will need to consume about 5,000 calories a day; despite this, they will each lose about two stones in weight by the end.

They are raising money for Reverse Rett, a charity that supports children and adults with Rett Syndrome and supports medical research for treatments. There is currently no cure.

Ross’s daughter Eliza, nine, has the genetic condition, which mostly affects girls and takes away their ability to walk, talk and live independently.

Ross said: “It is going to be a huge physical challenge and is also going to test our mental strength – not to mention our friendship, as we will be living in extremely close proximity.

“We hope that we can foster community engagement within North Berwick, both to support our challenge and get children in the primary and high schools excited about rowing and adventure, and help foster links between the schools and our local rowing club.”

Ross’s wife Catherine added: “They’re going to be living out at sea and constantly moving.

“They might be the only Scottish team doing it next year.

“I think the challenge they are facing is going to be really tough. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

“I’m obviously worried and very nervous but it will be an amazing experience for them and important to raise the profile of the charity.”

Most of the group are fathers and will only be able to keep in touch with home through emails, due to the lack of phone signal at sea.

Preparation work is now very much under way.

The team’s boat, which cost £45,000, was recommended by the Broar Brothers, also known as Ewan, Jamie and Lachlan MacLean.

The trio, from Edinburgh, completed the same challenge last year, and became the youngest and fastest trio to row the Atlantic.

Duncan bumped into them on the beach at North Berwick during the summer and asked what boat they used and if they had any tips.

The boat will be sold on arrival at Antigua and the money donated to Reverse Rett.

The boat needs to be kitted out, meals planned, the rowing schedule organised, safety courses completed and a lot of physical training undertaken.

The men also need to source the funds necessary to get them on the start line and donate to the charity.

A target of £50,000 has been set.

Catherine said: “It’s been really tricky to find ways to raise money as we can’t do any fundraising events.”

One of the first fundraising activities was an auction on December 5, with a boat rowing trip for three people on the Firth of Forth the prize on offer.

Bought for £1,200, all the money raised will be donated to Reverse Rett.

A range of corporate and personal sponsorship options are available; for information, go to

Those who wish to donate a smaller sum of money can do so at