Meet the Team

Daragh Macdonagh

Age: 23
Place of birth: Dorchester, Dorset
Height: 6ft 2in (188cm)
Weight: 12st 9lbs (80.3kg)
Location: London
Occupation: Student (Politics)

Why are you competing in the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge?

My original motivation was wanting to complete an expedition which would well and truly push my physical and mental boundaries in a way they had not been tested before. However, the hectic nature of student life at the University of Edinburgh meant the row got pushed down my list of priorities. That was until a pair of tragic incidents in recent years - two friends unexpectedly took their own lives. This provided the impetus to seriously commit to the row and to raise money for MIND. The desire to honour their memory will be with us for every oar stroke across the Atlantic.


What are you most looking forward to?

"Land ahoy!" - that first glimpse of the Antiguan shoreline, and the feeling that we have almost completed the challenge of a lifetime.


What are you least looking forward to?
Having shared a flat with him at university for a couple of years, I will have to say Sam's persistently dreadful chat for 40 days. Hopefully my podcasts will offer some welcome relief.


What is your Desert Island Disc?

Murder on the Dancefloor - Sophie Ellis-Bextor. An all-time classic.


If you could take a luxury item, what would it be?

A fishing rod so we could cook up some fresh Atlantic mackerel.


What will you miss most during the row?
Stretching the legs and clearing the mind on my morning run.


Francis Highton

Age: 29
Place of birth: Edinburgh
Height: 6ft 3in (190.5cm)
Weight: 14st 2lbs (90kg)

Location: London
Occupation: Teacher


Why are you competing in the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge?

To continue a long-held passion for rowing! I left Durham University with aspirations to join the Great British Rowing Team. Joining Leander Club, this dream got off to a good start with early U23 representation but a bulging disc in my lower spine forced me into rehabilitation. Nevertheless, my passion for rowing has remained strong - I recently rowed 900km down the Zambezi River in Zambia and have represented GB at the World Coastal Rowing Championships in Vancouver and Hong Kong. I am thrilled to be a part of this row and to raise money for MIND, a charity which does fantastic work. 


What are you most looking forward to? 

The thrill of adventure.




What are you least looking forward to? 

The storms - in 2017, Team Tenzing was hit by a force nine storm in which a 30ft wave capsized their boat and set their their cabin on fire. They were eventually rescued by an oil tanker.


What is your Desert Island Disc? 

Anything upbeat to see me through those seemingly never-ending days and nights of rowing.


If you could take a luxury item, what would it be? 

My Kindle.



What will you miss most during the row?

A normal bathroom! Doing the business in a bucket for 40 days will not be one of my highlights.

Ed Hughes

Age: 25

Place of birth: Windsor, Berkshire

Height: 5ft 10in 

Weight: 11st 3lbs (71.5kg)

Location: London
Occupation: IT


Why are you competing in the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge? 

My grandad lived in Portsmouth so I have spent a great deal of time on boats, and as he was in the Navy I have spent an ever greater amount of time hearing about them. Since living in London after leaving the University of Edinburgh I've had a lot less time to get out and about, so this challenge gives me a pretty big reason to get back out there. Also, a bit of sibling rivalry - my sister has run a couple of marathons, which I've had to hear a great deal about, so I'd like to see her top this. But obviously being able to raise any money for MIND is the main driver, so they can help more people who may need their support. 

What are you most looking forward to? 

Getting to Antigua and having a big lobster dinner. 


 

What are you least looking forward to? 

Blisters - one friend who has done something similar gave me a lengthy talk about how I needed to sit in urine to stop them - not sure which would be worse.   

What is your Desert Island Disc? 

Look at Her Now - Selena Gomez.


If you could take a luxury item, what would it be?

A sail? 


What will you miss most during the row?

Being able to go for a walk in some nice green fields. 

Sam Weston

Age: 23
Place of birth: Dorchester, Dorset
Height: 6ft 2in (188cm)

Weight: 12st 7lbs (79.4kg)

Location: London and Zurich, Switzerland
Occupation: Student (Mathematics)


Why are you competing in the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge? 
Having grown up on the Dorset coast, I have always loved to be outside, especially on the sea. As I find myself leaving the University of Edinburgh, my sights are set on a challenge to counterbalance city life. This row is more than just an adventure, it is a way to offer my support for an issue that has become worryingly prevalent. Tragically, even before leaving for university, two friends lost their lives to suicide. It is these heart-breaking cases which have spurred me to undertake such a feat. By raising money for MIND, I hope that one day every person will have access to the support they need.


What are you most looking forward to?

The night skies. Without light pollution we should be able to see the stars in all their glory.


What are you least looking forward to? 

Salt sores. I've experienced minor ones on sailing trips around the north of Scotland but these ones will be different beasts altogether.


What is your Desert Island Disc? 
The Sound of Silence - Simon and Garfunkel


If you could take a luxury item, what would it be?

A power shower (with hot water).


What will you miss most during the row?

A solid 8 hours of sleep in my normal, comfortable bed.