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Our story

The Race:

Latitude 35 is proud to, once again, be entering the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge (TWAC). This year’s race will start in San Sebastian, La Gomera in the Canary Islands on December 14th and will finish in the English Harbor of Antigua in the Caribbean. This 3,000 mile race across the Atlantic Ocean is widely considered to be the toughest race in the world, pitting its challengers against some of the most savage conditions the ocean has to give. Rowing across the Atlantic is tough enough as it is, but race results require that each team complete the challenge in unassisted fashion, which includes packing out their own food, making their own water, navigating themselves, and not taking assistance from another boat, in any fashion, across the entire race. An infraction of any of these rules, along with the detailed list of lesser regulations, result in immediate disqualification. What does all this mean? It means that in addition to the raw physical demands that rowing across an ocean requires, each team must also be more than proficient in some of the finer qualities of pioneering and leadership. Routing, hygiene, nutrition, and teamwork are just a part of a team’s rigorous discipline that must be adhered to each and every day to stand a chance of success on a 3,000 mile rowing journey across the deserted waters of the Atlantic.

The Experience:

A veteran ocean rower once commented that out on the sea, experience is king. Latitude 35 couldn’t agree more, and with more than 230 days of ocean rowing experience between its four members, the crew plans to leverage the many successes and failures experienced in past races to produce an efficient row this December.  Latitude 35’s multi-national team comprised of two Americans and two Britons have amassed over 15,000 miles of ocean racing, across both the Indian and Atlantic in the past three years. During these arduous miles at sea, the team talks of fast days and slow, days of rowing 90 miles and days of rowing 11. Days of surfing down forty foot swells, and days of complete calm without a ripple in the ocean as far as the eye can see. Days of scorching heat, and days of torrential rain. And not just days but nights as well. Nights where the moon lights the sky in the same way the sun did hours before, and moonless nights that shroud the boat in darkness - unable to see the waves crashing five feet from the stern. Nights where bioluminescence light up the sea and meteor showers light up the sky. All this while an aquarium of fish, sharks, whales, and squid follow in curiosity below.

The Support:

In a race this involved, organized, and epic, funds alone could keep a team from ever even reaching the start line. However, thanks to Latitude 35’s title sponsor Carlisle, the team has gone from questions like “What’s it going to take to race?” to “What’s it going to take to win?” Carlisle’s ongoing commitment to excellence has benefited Latitude 35 not only by providing the sponsorship means to compete in the Atlantic Challenge, but by setting a standard of performance that all crew members strive to fulfill. Carlisle is a global manufacturer from building materials to wiring harnesses in Boeing jets. Their objective in supporting the effort is to give an example to their 11,000 employees world-wide that the seemingly impossible can be accomplished through sound planning and preparation, superior quality, and grit. Through Carlisle’s investment, Latitude 35 has commissioned the American Spirit for its second Atlantic crossing, a 29-foot top-of-the-line carbon fibre ocean rowing shell produced by Rannoch. Other equipment paramount to making a fast crossing includes solar panels for energy, a water desalinator, a computer system with GPS, an auto-helm, and satellite phones.

This year’s race is bound to be historic. Get to know the team by reading their bios below. Interested in getting involved? Write to us on our contact page and one of the team members will get back to you with ways you can help!

By prevailing over all obstacles and distractions, one may unfailingly
arrive at his chosen goal or destination. 
– Christopher Columbus

current TEAM

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Jason Caldwell - USA

Age: 33

Jason’s prolific athletic career started not in rowing, but in baseball, where he played for his alma mater Sonoma State University (SSU) earning three consecutive scholar athlete awards. His collegiate summers were spent playing Semi-Pro baseball for the San Francisco Angels until he sustained a career ending elbow injury in the summer leading to his senior year.

Never one to call it quits, Jason discovered the sport of rowing in his final year of collegiate eligibility at SSU where he was voted most inspirational by his teammates. Upon graduation, Jason was accepted to Vesper’s elite rowing team in Philadelphia where he rowed four years (two of which were spent with teammate Matt Brown) earning, amongst others, two gold medals, one silver, and one Bronze in the United States National Championships.

In 2015 Jason captained Latitude 35, the American team that raced against teammate Angus Collins in the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge, a 3,000 mile race. Despite a disastrous start which resulted in the team losing half their crew to an emergency evacuation, Jason and teammate Tom Magarov fought back to row the remaining 2,400 miles as a double finishing 11th and setting the American Course Record for the fours division despite their handicap.

Today Jason runs a leadership development company, and trains for a comeback which will be the 2016 Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge. He lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with his wife Amelia.

angus collins - UK

Angus has successfully gained over 7,000 miles of ocean rowing experience. He first conquered the Indian Ocean in 2014 with the “Fast Row West” team, of which Alex was a key member. On this crossing they gained the world record for the fastest four man crossing of the Indian Ocean, as well as the youngest. In 2015 Angus took on the Atlantic in the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge where he beat the race record with team “Ocean Reunion”, a record he hope to beat later this year!

Angus works for Rannoch Adventure and was involved in the build of the Latitude 35 boat. This means he is the man who knows every square inch of the American Spirit, and hopefully how to make it move even faster!

Angus's other projects have included trekking for 6 months on the Black-cat trail in Papua New Guinea, being part of the 2011 Run to the North, a non stop 350km run through the wilderness in North Scotland, traversing India on a 30mph rickshaw, taking part in the Enduralife Ultra running Series as well as teaching sailing and windsurfing.

Matthew Brown - USA

A United States National Champion at the elite level in the single scull, and a former American and World record holder on the Concept2 rowing machine, Matthew R. Brown is a Strategic Partnership manager at Index, Inc., a performance-based marketing startup focused on offline retail.

Matthew R. Brown received his undergraduate degree from Yale University and went on to receive a Master’s degree from the University of Oxford. As a United States National Champion at the elite level in the single scull, he is often invited to speak to companies and teams about the leadership, mental toughness, and teamwork lessons that can be learned from elite athletes.

At Yale University, he rowed in the Varsity 8 for three years, stroking both the Yale-Harvard race and the IRAs (American Collegiate Championships). At Oxford, he served as the Vice President of the Oxford University Boat Club (OUBC).

After graduating from Oxford, Matthew rowed at the historic Vesper Boat Club in Philadelphia. Matthew is now a member of Marin Rowing Association, and lives in Alameda County with his wife, Heather, and his daughter, Olympia.

Alexander simpson - UK

Alex has been brought up in the nautical world. He graduated from dinghy sailing to yacht racing around the age of 10 and has competed in annual regattas such as Cowes Week on a J109 to semi-professional regattas on Swan 45s (Cowes) and the New York Invitational Cup on a Swan 45 (Rhode Island, USA).

Alex studied Geography at the University of Manchester where he became acquainted with the sport of rowing. Amongst University life, he developed a passion for this other boat related sport and worked his way over 2 years to have a seat in the 1st VIII and 1st IV.

In 2014, Alex crossed the Indian Ocean in a 4-man ocean rowing boat from Exmouth, Australia to Mahe, The Seychelles. 71 days and 3,800 nautical miles (4,300 statute) later, Fast Row West became the fastest 4-man crew and youngest crew to cross the Indian Ocean.

Since his Ocean return, Alex now pursues a career at RKH Specialty, a Lloyds Insurance Broker, in the Marine Division.

Alex now finds himself in a similar scenario to push the limits. With fellow Fast Row West crewmember, Angus Collins. Both Alex and Angus are joining forces with Latitude 35 to pursue ‘unfinished business’ as a US / UK team.

Thomas magarov

Age: 30

Thomas Magarov was born in Azerbaijan in the former Soviet Union in 1985. A competitive rower and swimmer in high school before leaving the country in 2002 and emigrating to the United States. A graduate of & University of West Chester with a Bachelors degree in International business, an education he has used extensively in the last ten years in his work in management positions in large volume retail environments and with Team Concepts Inc.

Tom is an outstanding rowing coach at all levels, having worked with physically challenged middle school youth in Azerbaijan as well as with masters levels rowers at the Philadelphia Boathouse Row and middle management and top executives from around the world with Team Concepts. An engaging personality, Tom is known for his enthusiastic nature, positive approach, and logical approach to challenges. He is currently the director of logistics and operations with Team Concepts.

MEET OUR CREW

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OUR BOAT

The boats are approximately 7.5 meters long and 1.8 meters wide, which means our competitors won’t be able to walk about freely on board. The boats are built of wood, fibre glass, carbon fibre and Kevlar. Each one will have a small cabin, which is the only protection teams have against the might of the ocean and powerful sun rays. If the weather proves too much for the boat and it capsizes, all the vessels are able to self-right.

As the successful completion of our journey across the Atlantic depends on the support of sponsors, the Latitude 35 crew are looking for interested partners, Sponsorship not only helps fund entry fees and equipment; a significant amount will be contributed to the final fundraising total for selected charities to support their amazing work.

OUR CHARITies

About The Headstrong Project
Headstrong Project provides confidential and cost free treatment for Iraq and Afghanistan veterans suffering from the hidden wounds of war.  In partnership with Weill Cornell Medical College, one of the Nation’s leading mental health care centers, Headstrong Project developed an effective, individually tailored comprehensive treatment program for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD); Addiction Treatment; Anxiety & Depression; Trauma, Grief and Loss; and Anger Management. Headstrong currently serves the New York Metro area, San Diego/Riverside County, Houston and Chicago, with plans to expand to Los Angeles and Washington, D.C.

Local charity supported by Matt Brown

Oak Hill School is honored to be one of the charities benefiting from this year’s Atlantic Challenge. Thanks to Latitude 35 team member and Bay Area resident Matthew Brown, funds raised as part of his participation in this 3,000 mile trans-Atlantic race will help support our elementary, secondary and transition programs for young people on the autism spectrum.