Arksen Sponsors Atlantic Solo

1 man. 1 boat. 3,000 miles of ocean. £50,000 for charity. 

Martyn Thornton certainly doesn’t do things by halves.  A 60 something businessman and part-time adventurer, this Yorkshireman is taking on “The Worlds Toughest Row”, in the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge, to raise money for the charity, HorseHead. 

The drive to test himself has always been in his blood. Whether it’s physical challenges (marathons, cycling, walking), career challenges (setting up several companies), emotional challenges (battling depression, training as a performance coach), or learning the violin at 56, Martyn has the desirable belief that he will always succeed. 

“Ive been asked loads of times why Im doing this and to be honest theres no earth shattering reason or drive to find myself” – quite simply it just resonates with a fundamental part of my character.”

– Martyn Thornton

Adventure isn’t something he’s new to either. In 2017 he hiked solo through the wilderness, from Mexico to Canada, along the Pacific Crest. A brutal 20 miles per day and 5 months later, Martyn completed the 2,667 mile challenge.

Martyn’s a strong believer that age is just a number. His desire to challenge himself through endurance events has led him to defy the conventions of society imposed on his age group. He has great aims of inspiring his generation and proving it’s never too late to have a passion. 

The Race

Under the team name ‘Atlantic Solo’, Martyn will be taking to the ocean this December in the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge. He’ll be rowing across the Atlantic Ocean from San Sebastian, La Gomera, in the Canary Isles (28oN 18oW), to Nelson’s Dockyard, English Harbour, Antigua (17oN 61oW). A gruelling 3,000 mile journey, one which has seen more people successfully climb Mount Everest than cross the Atlantic in a rowing boat. 

Out on the ocean, Martyn will be completely self-sufficient. He will single-handedly propel his 24ft ocean rowing boat towards Antigua with no outside assistance, whilst facing a constant battle of fatigue, blisters, salt sores and sleep deprivation, due to two-hour shifts around the clock. 

The electricity for GPS navigation and communications will be powered by solar panels and freshwater supplied via an essential ‘water maker’, that makes seawater suitable and safe to drink and use for rehydrating food supplies. 

The race is sure to be a mental and physical test on Martyn’s endurance, especially whilst facing the raw and unforgiving elements of the Atlantic Ocean.

The Motivation

Despite the adventure and hardship the challenge presents, there is a major motivation behind his drive. Martyn has suffered with severe depression during moments of his life and wants to give back and repay the acts of kindness he received over the years. Often finding support and encouragement through exercise, therapy and coaching, Martyn is passionate about raising awareness and educating others on mental health issues, as well as the importance of looking after our minds. 

HorseHeard is a UK charity helping to improve the emotional health and wellbeing of children, young people, adults and veterans in need, through the powerful connection of horses. They work with groups and families with horses from local riding stables or welfare centres with experienced and qualified facilitators. They also provide a peer support programme that involves a mix of classroom-based work, practical activities and horse interaction. The charity successfully helps to develop individuals’ self-confidence, self-esteem, core life skills, the management of their emotional state as well as many others. 

Having worked with HorseHeard both professionally and personally, Martyn wholeheartedly believes that their work makes a substantial difference. A charity very close to his heart, Martyn aims to raise £50,000 for HorseHeard. 

The world record to cross the Atlantic solo in the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge is 31 days, with the longest over a 100 days. Martyn’s competitive spirit has him aiming to break the current record of solo male over 60 and inspire fellow baby-boomers that you can do anything if you put your mind to it.  

“I see myself as a conventional and ordinary man, who just happens to believe that you can do whatever you really want to – you just have to believe you can.”

– Martyn Thornton

Arksen is very proudly sponsoring Martyn on his race across the Atlantic. His drive to inspire others and sense of adventure are traits close to our heart and we can’t wait to see Martyn in action. 

Follow Martyn on Instagram to keep up to date with his preparations. 

You can also donate to Martyn’s Go Fund Me page here.

Discover another Atlantic rower, Olly Hicks and his past adventures here.

New Partner Hydro

We have talked before on the use of aluminium and the reasons why we believe it’s the ideal material to build the Arksen range. With the Arksen 85 ‘Project Ocean’ currently in production, at Wight Shipyard Co., we are delighted to share that Hydro, a global supplier of aluminium, will be supplying the aluminium for Arksen vessels. 

Low Carbon Aluminium

Hydro’s purpose is to create a more viable society by innovatively and efficiently developing natural resources into products and services. A value that is aligned with our own, Hydro are passionate about minimalising their footprint and producing more sustainable materials. 

This partnership with Hydro provides us with access to low-carbon aluminium as well as an abundance of aluminium expertise in developing cost-effective, efficient and strong solutions for the marine industry. 

Hydro has provided us access to both rolled and extruded marine-grade aluminium, made from a combination of process scrap and recycled aluminium, combined with primary aluminium which offers a low-carbon alternative, manufactured using renewable energy. In turn, aiding our journey to create a fleet of more-sustainable exploration and research vessels. 

‘Project Ocean’ will be built with Hydro Njørdal, in the form of aluminium extrusions and sheets, that are strong yet light and corrosion-resistant, making them suitable for life at sea. Hydro Njørdal is an alloy stronger and more durable than other aluminium alloys. Allowing for an innovative light-weight design, it will also contribute to greatly reducing energy consumption.

‘Project Ocean’ in production at Wight Shipyard Co. using Hydro aluminium.

Olly Hicks, Executive Director of the Arksen Foundation commented:

“Hydro’s knowledge and experience has enabled us to better understand the material benefits both for the vessel and for the environment. We were impressed with how Hydro are working with their partners to deliver smarter solutions and for highlighting what should be the preferred choice in the industry. This is something that we want to help champion as well.”

Hydro has been involved early on within the Arksen project, providing insights into optimising the aluminium construction as well as designing for recycling. 

David Goddard, UK Sales Manager at Hydro, states that “Only a small percentage of boats in Europe are recycled.” Commenting that “Projects like this from Arksen are a step in the right direction for the potential of recycling materials in the marine sector.” 

Read more on ‘Project Ocean’ going into production earlier this year here

Meet the COO

Designer, builder and keen sailor of vessels – Ewan Hind has done it all. We caught up with Arksen’s Chief Operating Officer to discuss how he first got into the marine industry, sustainability and the need for respect towards our oceans, the impact of a pandemic as well as some of his envious past adventures. 

You’re a keen sailor. When did your love for the sea first arise?

Ewan Hind (EW): When I was young, the family moved to the west coast of Scotland and my parents ran a traditional sailing boat as a charter business. We sailed on the boat during the summers around the Hebrides, and we lived by the sea and spent our spare time messing around in dinghies. I was bitten by the bug early on!

The Scottish Hebrides where Ewan spent his childhood summers

With over 25 years of experience within the marine industry, you’ve been involved in the designing, building and sailing of vessels. How did you first get into the industry?

EW: I passed my Yachtmaster at 17 and spent every summer through my late teens sailing professionally, and volunteering with Sail Training organisations, before spending many years involved in sailing and sail training full time after graduation. I had dreams of being a yacht designer from my early teens and studied for a Masters degree in Naval Architecture at Southampton University, which was my route into designing and building boats. I’ve been lucky to be able to combine designing, building and time at sea on all sorts of boats during my career to date.

Marine conservation is at the heart of Arksen. Has the sustainability of the marine industry been something that has become more important to you over the years?

EW: Yes, absolutely. Having spent my formative years going to sea in a naturally sustainable way – on sailing boats, mostly wooden, and in beautiful, unspoilt places – leaving a light footprint was very natural. When my career took me into the large yacht world, I was shocked by some of the prevailing attitudes and lack of respect for the ocean environment. Over the last few years, there has certainly been a general shift in attitudes toward more sustainable operation, but there is certainly a long way to go. I hope that with Arksen, we can be part of leading that change.

Ewan Hind sailing in the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race

How vital do you think it is for yacht companies to respect, understand their impact and protect the oceans. Do you think enough is being done in the industry?

EW: Positive change is certainly happening within the industry, but it is slow and more needs to happen. Much in the yachting sector revolves around wealthy owners – cash-rich, time-poor, with a focus on convenience and with habits ingrained over decades of consumption. Widespread, systemic change has to start where the money is, with a shift in attitudes from the people who pay the bills. There are many thoughtful owners investing in more sustainable yachts and operations, and the industry is responding with numerous innovations to facilitate this. But, at the moment, these innovations are grabbing headlines – a sign that they are not yet the norm. These innovations show what the direction of travel needs to be, and there is some momentum building. But the industry certainly needs to do more to guide owners in the right direction – to be more proactive rather than simply responsive – in order to accelerate change.

What are you most excited for, for the future of Arksen?

EW: I’m looking forward to helping owners plan incredible adventures in their Arksen vessels, facilitating research and conservation work aboard through Yachts for Science, and using our shared ownership programmes to make access to ocean adventures more achievable.

Ewan and his crew sailing in 2006

Many events have been put on hold this year due to COVID-19, including major boat shows such as Cannes Yachting Festival and Southampton International Boat Show. How do you think the yachting industry will fair with the disruption compared to other industries?

EW: It seems to be a mixed outlook for the marine industry. The uncertainty caused by the pandemic is certainly putting some plans on hold in the short term, but access to a boat provides a perfect opportunity for socially distanced fun and adventure and this is being recognised. The small boat sector, where stock is readily available to have and use now, is doing very well. In the longer term, I am hopeful that the changes in outlook and habits brought about by Covid-19, lockdown living, remote working and social distancing will encourage more people to buy and charter as a great way to have family time, undertake adventures in safety and comfort, and do so for longer periods, as remote working opportunities and faster connectivity at sea allow business’ to be conducted from anywhere.

Trends come and go, but where do you see the future of the marine industry heading? Are we all getting more adventurous?

EW: I believe so – being more adventurous and getting to less frequented places seems to be a long term trend in travel generally, not just the marine industry. Air travel is forecast to be depressed for another 2-3 years, making travel and exploration by boat the perfect way for people to get their adventure fix!

You’ve banked over 100,000 miles at sea over the years, which has been your best adventure to date?

EW: There are so many highlights in that time! The Clipper Round the World race was certainly one of these. Crossing the South Pacific from Panama to New Zealand via the Galapagos, Polynesia, Tonga and Fiji was another. But there is great adventure closer to home as well – trips to St Kilda, Norway and the Isles of Scilly also stand out as memorable.

Bryther, Isles of Scilly

Adventure can come at a cost, we find not everything always runs smoothly. What’s been one of your biggest challenges when on an expedition?

EW: When I set off on the Clipper Round the World race, my first priority was to bring everyone home safely. Fortunately, I managed to do this – the worst injury during the voyage was to myself! Crossing the North Pacific with my leg in a brace was a challenge as it very much limited my physical involvement on deck. However, my amazing crew stepped up, sailed brilliantly, and we won that leg.

You’ve ticked off many bucket list adventures including skippering in the gruelling biannual Clipper Round the World Yacht Race, what’s next for Ewan?

EW: I’m now married with two young sons, so over the next few years, I hope that my adventures will mostly be family affairs, as we introduce our boys to sailing, the oceans and adventurous travel.