12/14/2017, 12:00 PM CET

Embodying the spirit of adventure, DHL-backed duo Omar Samra and Omar Nour are about to row the Atlantic

With just 1,000 nautical miles of training behind them, Omar Samra and Omar Nour will take on The Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge.

With just 1,000 nautical miles of training behind them, Omar Samra and Omar Nour will take on The Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge.

  • More people have been into space or climbed Everest than have successfully rowed across the Atlantic
  • Duo will raise awareness for refugees with #ROW4REFUGEES

Bonn - On Thursday 14 December, with just 1,000 nautical miles of training behind them, mountain and polar adventurer Omar Samra and professional triathlete Omar Nour will take on the world's toughest row - The Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge - an unaided 3,000 nautical mile journey from San Sebastian in La Gomera, to Nelson's Dockyard in English Harbour, Antigua.

"DHL is incredibly proud of our partnership with two inspiring adventurers like Omar and Omar. Our business was founded on this kind of pioneering spirit; taking on what seems almost impossible with a can-do attitude, a sense of optimism and a determination to conquer it all. These two men embody our own attributes and I am really looking forward to following their epic journey over the next few weeks. It won't be easy, but I'm confident these two intrepid explorers will face any challenge they come across. I just wish them all the best of luck!" said Ken Allen , DHL Express CEO

On the eve of the event, Omar Samra says: "We're 98% ready. Am I anxious? Let's say 'a little bit'. The conditions point to it having the fastest start ever. That means there will be no time to settle in, which is good, as the intense stuff will happen anyway. But we're putting months of training and preparation to good work."

Omar Nour says: "Omar and I are starting from scratch - we have absolutely no knowledge of the ocean, and had never been in a rowing boat until just a few short months ago! It's refreshing to try something completely new - to test the limit of our physical and mental strength and to achieve something unthinkable. We want to defy our limits, and inspire the world to do the same!" he added.

Omar Samra and Omar Nour, affectionately dubbed 'O2', met in 2013 and became firm friends. Professional triathlete, Omar Nour, represents Egypt on the Olympic triathlon circuit and is the fastest Arabic-speaking triathlete in the world. His journey to an elite athlete was unusual - at age 29 he weighed in at 105kg and signed up for this first triathlon after ripping his suit pants (twice!) getting into his car. Just two short years later, and 30kg's lighter, Nour earned his pro-card and started his professional triathlon career aged 31.

Omar Samra, an adventurer, motivational speaker, future astronaut, and U.N. goodwill ambassador, was the first Egyptian to climb Everest, the 7 Summits and ski to both the North and South Pole. The feat, dubbed 'The Adventurer's Grand Slam' has been completed by fewer than 40 people in history.

"After completing the 7-Summits in 2013, I started looking for my next adventure. The idea of completing a human-powered ocean-crossing always intrigued me, but I knew that this was one perilous adventure I couldn't do alone. I immediately started looking for a team mate - it takes a certain kind of person to keep going when faced with 50-foot waves, blisters, salt rash, sharks and sleep deprivation!" said Samra.

"When an injury side-lined Omar (Nour) from the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, I knew I'd found my man. Our personalities are worlds apart - his contagious energy and painstaking attention to detail ignites my calm demeanor and big-picture thinking. Together, we make a formidable team!"

No outside assistance is permitted throughout the crossing - once O2 leave the safety of the harbor they'll be completely unaided in the vast ocean and at the mercy of the elements. O2's vessel is approximately 7.5m long x 1.8m wide, and built of wood, fibre glass, carbon fiber and Kevlar. It's equipped with a water maker that makes the sea water drinkable, plus solar panels to power GPS and other vital electrical equipment. There are 90 days' worth of food rations, plus first-aid kits, tracking beacons, an 'AIS' allowing O2 to communicate with passing vessels, a satellite telephone and a specially designed laptop called a 'tough book' that will allow O2 to communicate when 1,500 miles from dry land.

The boat has a small cabin, which is the only protection O2 will have against the might of the ocean. When the weather proves too much for the boat and it capsizes, it is able to self-right.

Raising awareness of the journeys made by thousands of refugees

It's in stark contrast to the basic vessels often used by refugees, who are crossing oceans through necessity rather than adventure. Omar Samra says: "We made an immediate decision to choose this cause. In my role as UNDP ambassador, my work in environmental conservation brought the plight of refugees to my attention.

Omar Nour adds: "We picked this cause because of its relevance. Because we're not raising money for anything, we wanted to raise awareness and present the issues in a unique way. Usually refugees are talked about by one set of voices, so it's easy to switch off. People get de-sensitized to refugees. This gives us the opportunity to humanize the issues, by talking about people who have crossed oceans to survive, not through choice like us, in well-equipped boats."

If they successfully complete the grueling crossing, O2 will be the first Arab team to row across the Atlantic Ocean. The world record for pairs is 40 days and 6 hours - and more people have gone into space or climbed Everest than have successfully rowed across the Atlantic.

Christina Neuffer

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