Rowers race around Britain to collect coastal data

The crew of Team Albatross, including Olympic rower Andrew Triggs Hodge, centre, leaves the start of the GB Row Challenge at St Katherine Dock in central London

Three rowing teams have set off on a race around Britain in a bid to collect the largest collection of marine scientific data on rowing boats.

The GB Row Challenge will see three teams – Albatross, All Systems Row and Sea Legs – circumnavigate Britain while collecting data from coastal waters.

Their aim is to paint a picture of the British coastal ecosystem while inspiring young people across the UK to see how sport can foster life skills.

GB Row Challenge
The All Systems Row crew approach the start of the GB Row Challenge on the River Thames in central London (Victoria Jones/PA)

The teams began their journey from Tower Bridge on Sunday, with three-time Olympic champion Andrew Triggs Hodge among the competitors.

“What we hope is that a lot of people will want to do it next year, because I won’t do it next year!” William de Laszlo, founder of GB Row, said.

“Then we have another set of data, then you have this really amazing comparison and contrast: are our UK waters getting worse or better?

“The University of Portsmouth hopes this will lead to policy change in UK waters to clean up our seas.”

GB Row Challenge
The three teams pass under Tower Bridge at the start of the GB Row Challenge (Victoria Jones/PA)

The data will focus on microplastics, underwater noise, environmental DNA, salinity and temperature, with researchers from the University of Portsmouth analyzing the samples over a period of at least four years.

The teams will compete not only against each other, but also against the complex tides and changing British weather conditions.

The first GB Row Challenge was held in 2005. This year schools and businesses will get involved by taking part in their own virtual indoor rowing challenge, following the teams online and learning about the work done by the University of Portsmouth.

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