Tom Tomto navigate the Atlantic Ocean

The two Toms purpose-built vessel.
The two Toms purpose-built vessel.
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St Andrews student Tom Sauer will spend Christmas at sea attempting a record-breaking row

He and his pal, Londoner Tom Fancett, began the journey from the Canary Islands to Barbados in an eight-metre rowing boat last Sunday, in a bid to be the second-youngest pair ever to make the crossing.

The two Toms are taking part in the 2011 Atlantic Ocean Rowing Race; departing from the Spanish port of San Sebastian de la Gomera in the Canary Islands and following what’s known as the Columbus route, west-bound across the mid-Atlantic to Port St Charles.

The journey of nearly 3000 miles is expected to take them until late January, which means the friends will be at sea together for two months and spend Christmas with no toilet facilities and limited cooking equipment - giving up a festive dinner for high calorie expedition food.

Tom Sauer is currently in his final year of studying for a joint honours degree in modern history and management, and hopes to be the youngest Dutchman to successfully navigate the Atlantic Ocean.

The pair expect to face sharks, 30 foot waves, extreme temperatures, painful salt sores and blisters to raise money for the Johan Cruijff Foundation which provides educational and sporting opportunities for impoverished children around the world.

Tom Sauer told the Citizen: “Since being a little kid I have always loved the ocean and spent a considerable time on sailing boats, resulting in me sailing across the Atlantic with my dad.

‘‘For me, rowing the ocean is the culmination of my love and respect for the sea.

“At the same time, I am very conscious of how lucky I am; as a child I was always able to pursue any sports I wanted and this is why I am very passionate about raising money for the Johan Cruyff Foundation.”

Sir Steve Redgrave, honorary graduate of St Andrews University, was among the first to give his support, stating: “Having watched my close friend, James Craknell, complete this race - and what he went through - I have only the upmost respect for Tom and Tom.’’

Former British men’s tennis number one, Tim Henman, added: “I would like to give my support to Tom and Tom and wish them the best of luck for the great challenge that lies ahead.

‘‘I admire their determination and the aim to raise money for such a great cause!”

n Follow the progress of Team Tom on their website at: http://teamtomatlanticrow.com/welcome-3/