A 3000 Mile Rowing Race & Sharing the Love of Adventure with the World
By Bobby Melville, Founder of IGO Adventures
On Changing Career: I travelled the world for work as a professional polo player in my 20’s and it sparked a love for different cultures and travel. I saw first hand how polo was played in different areas of the world and how a shared experience could unite across language barriers. When I reached my professional limit and was looking for the next move, I happened to meet a really inspiring woman called Julia Immonen. An advocate for social and humanitarian change, she had set up a charity called Sport for Freedom, helping women in Europe caught up in the slave trade. Over coffee, she shared stories of rowing across the Atlantic with 3 other women. At first, I didn’t believe her, but as she started to talk about it, I was inspired. I had thought, like everyone else, that these things were only for the Ernest Shackletons and George Bullards of our time, not for everyone – but it turns out, they can be.
On Rowing Across the Atlantic: I was so inspired by Julia and her cause that I got together a team of 4 with my friend Henry Brett, and we entered into the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge, a 3000 mile rowing race across the Atlantic. The race is unsupported, so you have to carry your own food and water and just keep rowing until you hit land. It took us 48 days, during which we had some of the most incredible experiences of our lives: from being 2 metres away from a Sperm Whale to 50 foot waves that could have taken our lives. It was a complete life changer for me.
On Reaching Dry Land: It was a really euphoric moment. None of us had ever been out in the ocean before to the point of losing sight of land. We had trained on ergo rowing machines in gyms and done a couple of yacht masters, but that was it. The entire process (training and fundraising) took a year of our lives – we gave up our jobs and put a significant strain on our family lives just to get to the starting line.
On the birth of IGO: When I reached Antigua, it was the best feeling I had ever had and I was determined to bottle that up and find a way to give it to people with less time and resources to spare, So we set about creating IGO Adventures, in order to offer a new level of accessibility to life-changing experiences. Normally, it takes up to 2 years to train and raise funds of up to L50,000 to do massive expeditions like crossing a continent on foot or rowing an ocean. Then there is the weather to contend with. You could spend the best part of a decade preparing for an adventure that might never come off, so our expeditions take a lot of the uncertainty out of the equation and are financially much more accessible. We have experts creating customised training plans specific to each person and terrain, and set up the logistics to make this sort of adventure possible within a week or weekend.