British ocean rower, Mike Bates, has successfully completed the 2022 Talisker Whiskey Atlantic Challenge and is the first solo rower to finish the race. It took him 46 days, 6 hours and 10 minutes to row the 3000 miles, alone, from the Canary Islands to Antigua. “You’ve got to be your authentic self. One thing I learnt out in the ocean is that the real you comes out,” said Bates who arrived in English Harbour, on the 27th of January 2023.
The former Royal Marine who toured Afghanistan and Iraq, is a black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. He left a secure job with British intelligence to set up a Jiu-Jitsu Academy in Leeds, Gracie Barra Roundhay. The dad of two rowed up to 17 hours a day to complete the crossing.
At one point during the row a pod of dolphins surrounded his boat. “Now I understand the prize is the experience, not crossing the finish line first,” said Bates. As the dolphins swam away he felt as though any ego he had left with him.
Bates has raised almost £175,000 for the Leeds Hospitals Charity, who helped save his son’s life after being born 11 weeks premature.