Record-breaker Mick set for Falkland Islands quest

Mick Dawson celebrates his 2009 record-breaking row.
Mick Dawson celebrates his 2009 record-breaking row.

Record-breaking rower Mick Dawson is preparing to launch his latest adventure... circumnavigating the Falkland Islands in a kayak.

The challenge will see Mick and pal Steve Grenham make an emotional return to the British overseas territory, where they both served in the Falklands War as teenage Royal Marines back in 1982.

It is an adventure that will see them come face-to-face with killer whales and winds as strong as 20 knots during their days, while their nights will be spent camping on those beaches which aren’t home to landmines or walrus colonies.

“I’ve been looking for a new challenge for a while,” admitted 50-year-old Mick, who claimed a Guinness World Record with Chris Martin in 2009, after becoming the first team to row the Pacific Ocean unaided.

“It’s different and it won’t be easy, so it seems ideal.”

Although Mick admits to thriving off such challenges, there is a more serious aspect to their quest.

Steve has been suffering with the symptoms of post traumatic stress disorder (PTSO), believed to be caused from his days of service.

And Mick hopes the focus provided by their adventure can aid his friend.

“I’m a great believer that my projects have given me a purpose and that these things can help people in general,” he added.

“PTSD has never been more relevant than since the Second World War.”

The duo are also hoping their adventure - which has a start date of February 2016, summertime in the Southern Hemisphere - can raise as much as £100,000 for a PTSD charity as well as another charity based on the Falklands.

In the meantime, the two relative novices will train hard, including entering events such as the Devizes to Westminster kayak race, a non-stop 35-hour challenge, and Canada’s Yukon Great River Quest, which takes around three days to complete.

They are also preparing to circumnavigate the Isle of Man and Ireland as warm-up events.

Mick’s experiences in a boat began at the town’s Kitwood Boys School, where his PE teacher entered his class into the Boston Rowing Club Marathon, leaving the pupils to fight their own way home over the 30-mile course.

But his love affair began in 2001 when he crossed the Atlantic in 70 days with his brother, also named Steve.

On November 13, 2009, he and Martin rowed their boat Bojangles under San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge to complete their Pacific row, which began in Choshi, Japan, 189 days earlier.

And on November 13 this year - exactly five years to the day of that record - Mick and Steve will officially launch their kayak quest.

Last year both Mick and Steve returned to the island for the first time since the war to mark Steve’s 50th birthday.

“In some ways the island has changed a lot, but it still looks like that piece of old England you remember from your childhood,” Mick added.

“I don’t want to over-egg it or anything, but the island played a significant part in both our lives.”

As well as carrying their supplies and camping equipment with them, Mick and Steve will also take a video camera along as they film their journey as part of a documentary.

The pair have set themselves a target of completing their journey within three weeks.

“Completing it is more important to us than setting a time,” Mick added.

“But we’re two old Marines - as soon as we’re out there we’ll get competitive.”