The Old Guards
Six experienced adventurers coming together to tackle the greatest experience of their lives. Their Mission - as a mixed crew - will be to break the Guinness World Record for the fastest unsupported circumnavigation of the UK in a rowing boat. A previous four-man crew set this Record on 27th June 2013 at 26 days, 9 hours, 9 minutes and 58 seconds.
The team will be selected from:
Albert Farrant lives by the sea in East Sussex and has always loved the open ocean. A keen surfer and former sailor, Albert competed in a number of offshore sailing races whilst living in Australia between 2001 and 2016, including the storm-swept 2004 Sydney to Hobart yacht race, where his crew were among less than half the starting fleet that managed to limp into Hobart to complete the race. Other than zigzagging a tender back to a ‘proper’ boat, Albert had never rowed prior to this opportunity arising, but is now learning under the tutelage of the world leading talent at the mighty Eastbourne Rowing Club. For the last 15 years, Albert has worked for investment firms focused on turning around and transforming small to medium sized businesses, including working with Will de Laszlo at Agathos for a number of years. In work as well as life, Albert is a strong believer that nothing worthwhile comes easily in life, and the harder the journey, the sweeter the celebration when the destination is reached. Albert shares his life with his long-suffering wife Lucy and two beautiful daughters, who can’t comprehend why anyone would want to spend three weeks or more alternating between rowing and lying in a damp smelly cupboard!
Andrew Triggs Hodge
Edward Russell is a crypto investor and serial entrepreneur, who has occupied himself with an eclectic range of projects over the years, including a medical devices start-up, English tutor, real estate agent, craft brewer and beer innovator. He relishes starting new projects, the opportunity to learn that comes with the process and, above all, working with others. Throughout school and university, Edward was charmed by rowing and the allure of jumping into a boat remains as strong today as it has ever been. Lessons learned and moments shared with friends on the water have been central to his approach to life. He believes that everything is done better in a team, hard work pays, and that it is possible to disagree without being disagreeable. Inherently social and adaptable, Edward approaches each task with a keen sense of sincerity and dependability. Edward is British/Swiss dual national and currently lives in Switzerland with his very wonderful and understanding wife, Magali. They have two sons, Logan and Damon and a German Shepherd dog called Zena.
Henry Llewelyn-Usher, recently retired Commanding Officer of the Welsh Guards, has over 20 years military experience. Disillusioned with life in the City and longing for the camaraderie he experienced when rowing at Cambridge, he enlisted at Sandhurst and from there joined the Welsh Guards. After being disappointed to not be involved in the initial invasion of Iraq, he successfully passed specialist unit selection and was appointed to the ‘mountain division’, whose operations almost always required night-time parachute jumps with silent and complex movement in hostile terrain. He remarks that this was when he truly comprehended the “necessity of a leader to act authoritatively and strongly, but remain authentic to who they are”. He reflects that leadership to him means being “personally impeccable and assured - unpleasantness isn’t required, but respect is crucial”, especially when faced with life-threatening situations. He has previously rowed for Cambridge University, Leander Club and the Army.
The only Irish man on the squad, Joe lives in London where he founded the investment firm Islandbridge in 2009. Islandbridge is a B-Corp, where they believe responsible capital can solve some of our greatest environmental and social challenges. Joe was a rower at Trinity Dublin and played rugby for Oxford University. He loves endurance events whether swimming, biking, running or in a boat. He is an experienced kite-surfer, having kited some of the remotest oceans on our planet. However, despite his thirst for adventure, he is always looking to get home to Nicola and their three young daughters Isla, Cara and Lola.
Kat Bruce is a biologist and a world expert in the use of environmental DNA – a technology that lets you survey biodiversity by analysing the DNA in water taken from rivers, lakes and oceans. After completing a PhD at the University of East Anglia, she founded NatureMetrics in 2015 to put this tool into the hands of conservationists and environmental managers all over the world, so that they can properly account for nature. Before that, Kat was a tropical ecologist working on conservation projects in the Amazon rainforest. She led several expeditions, including a descent of the Urubama river on balsa-wood rafts to document the impacts on local communities of controversial natural gas projects in Peru, and spent months living deep in the jungle in Ecuador. Kat has rowed since 2005, first in Cambridge, then at UEA and since 2011, she has been at Mortlake Anglian and Alpha, where she has trained and raced in almost every seat of every boat class. A rowing expedition that includes environmental data collection is something she couldn’t say no to!
Robin Bourne-Taylor recently returned from living and working in Ghana, where for the past 5 years he ran a world-leading youth development organization combining education and elite sport. Now back in the UK, he is currently a co-founder in a social purpose start-up, Allegr, looking to increase connection and support mental and physical well-being within the military and veterans’ community. Robin rowed at Oxford University in four Boat Races and competed for the British Rowing Team at the Athens and Beijing Olympic Games. After university Robin joined the British Army from 2005-2010, commissioning into the Household Cavalry Regiment. He was a recipient of the Conspicuous Gallantry Cross following his service in Afghanistan. Robin is excited about GB Row Challenge not only as another chance to get the best out of a hugely demanding team adventure, but also for the event’s ground-breaking environmental purpose. His wife, Hannah Bourne-Taylor is an upcoming nature author and passionate conservationist and her enthusiasm for this marine research project is a driving force behind Robin being able to take part in the event.
Sid (Alexander) Allan
Simon Collis is a Real Estate partner in a US law firm who qualified as a Solicitor in 2002. In terms of physical pursuits, he describes himself as a jack of all trades and master of none. He picked up a taste for varied outdoor skills in windsurfing, surfing, sailing, skiing, mountain craft and orienteering from a military father and found team sport during his education in the North of Scotland and then at Leicester University. Alongside starting out in his legal career, with rowing, he enjoyed three consecutive years as a Hampshire & Dorset champion in the coxed fours coastal rowing series, also picking up one South Coast Championship and a gold medal in the national rowing championships. He is aware however that his rowing achievements are rather low-brow compared to others in this squad! Simon then took up Triathlon to keep a competitive drive and tick the fitness along. He enjoys a mix of training that sets him up for quality time in the surf, wind and out ski touring/skiing. A city legal career comes with relentless demands and he believes he’s learned a delicate juggling act with the transactional demands of clients, a young family, whilst staying healthy & active and in a positive space. Being truly reliable is a core value to Simon, whatever it takes. Tough times don’t last, but tough people do (he says he didn’t come up with that but he’s carried it a lot). The next best thing to solving a problem is finding some humour in it (he didn’t come up with that either).
William de Laszlo
William de Laszlo was told at school that he would never get any A levels, let alone go to university. William is Co-Founder/Joint Managing Partner of Agathos Management LLP, a private equity firm based in London. Agathos invests in UK SMEs, looking for passionate management teams who are on a growth trajectory. Encouraged by his grandfather and father “to serve”, after graduating from the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, he spent six years in the British Army. He got a lucky break as an intern and joined J.P. Morgan, followed by another mid-market private equity firm, where he worked on more than 25 transactions. Will has an MBA with Distinction from Oxford University’s Said Business School, and a history of overcoming adversity in education, with his academic success coming despite his heavy dyslexia. He believes that most problems can be solved - sometimes they just need to be looked at differently and always need hard work. A sense of humour “no journey is long with good company”, humility “you are only as good as the people you work with”, trust “when you can’t read very well this is key” and enthusiasm “energy - the more you put in the more you get out” are key values that drive Will. He has previously rowed around the coast of Great Britain - after being told that it was impossible - in the first GB Row Challenge crew to do so unsupported, setting a world record in the process and raising over £150,000 for charity. He can often be found practicing what he learned in the book ‘Born to Run’, by running barefoot with or after his four kids - Alice, Walter, Gabriel and Xander, and cold water swimming in the Serpentine. “Plus est en vous” - There is more in you than you think!