Childhood friends complete 3,000-mile Atlantic row raising tens of thousands of pounds for dementia research

01 February 2018

Two old school friends have become the youngest pair to row the Atlantic and have raised more than £50,000 for charity.

Oli Glanville and George Randell were among the competitors in the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge and completed the epic 3,000-mile row from La Gomera in the Canary Islands to Antigua in 37 days, 9 hours and 46 minutes.

The duo – who called themselves the Oardinary Boys – were the 10th crew to finish the race and were the second pair, finishing just under two hours behind another duo who broke the world record.

Oardinary Boys George Randell (l) Oli Glanville (r) CREDIT BEN DUFFY

The pair, who both live in London, rowed for two hours with the other resting on an almost non-stop rotation and completed the challenge much faster than anticipated having expected to be at sea for between 40 and 60 days.

Oli, who lives in Vauxhall, took on the challenge to raise money for Alzheimer’s Research UK, while George, who lives in Dulwich, was fundraising for the Against Malaria Foundation.

The challenge put the friendship of the pair, who have known each other since they were 10, having attended primary and secondary school together as well as Oxford University, to the ultimate test.

Oli, 22 said:

“It was really tough. We faced huge storms, hallucinations, a capsize and the frankly devastating loss of all our cutlery. But, we also saw whales, dolphins, flying fish and lots of amazing birds – and bizarrely a squid flew into George’s face too. Weird things happen at sea!

“We’ve spent over five weeks in a 24-foot boat, with habitable space of a 10-foot rowing deck/bathing salon and a cabin/sauna with just enough space inside to sleep. Thirty-seven days of eating freeze-dried food. Thirty-seven days of just each other’s company, terrible chat, and a lot of time alone with your thoughts.

“We finished the challenge even better friends and we did better than we thought we would – it all feels very surreal. It was fantastic to arrive in Antigua and see our family and friends.”

George, who celebrated his 23rd birthday at sea, said:

“The one thing pushing us on each stroke of the way was the growing charity total. It gave meaning to our madness and the motivation to keep going even when we felt like our bodies were giving up.”

Oli was inspired to raise money for the UK’s leading dementia research charity after seeing both his grandparents on his dad’s side deteriorate and pass away with Alzheimer’s disease.

The challenge was particularly poignant for Oli as his grandfather, John Glanville, was an accomplished sailor and Oli often went out on the water with him on visits to his grandparents’ home in Emsworth on the south coast.

Tim Parry, Director at Alzheimer’s Research UK, said:

“We are in awe of Oli and George for completing this amazing challenge. We were avidly following their progress throughout and are delighted they finished the race in such a remarkably quick time.

“There are 850,000 people with dementia in the UK and Oli’s story shows the devastating effect dementia can have on a family. The vital funds raised will power world-class research projects and help bring an end to the fear, harm and heartbreak of dementia.”

To donate to the charities, go to the Oardinary Boys’ fundraising page at