Rowers set out for a race around Britain to collect coastal data

Three rowing teams have set out for a race around Britain to collect the largest collection of marine scientific data from rowing boats.

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

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

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

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

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

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

GB Driving Challenge
Crew from team All Systems Row approaches the starting point of the GB Row Challenge on the River Thames in central London (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 not only compete against each other, but also against complex tides and the changeable British weather.

The first GB Row Challenge took place in 2005. This year, schools and businesses will participate by taking part in a virtual indoor rowing competition, following the teams online and learning about the work the University of Portsmouth is doing.

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