Crews competing for the richest prize ever offered in rowing have started training on the Thames.

GBRow 2013 starts from Tower Bridge at High Water on June 1st. Crews are chasing a £100,000 prize for the first crew to smash the current world record for the 2,000-mile trip.

As pictured above left, one of the boats taking part, Hallin Marine 2, was officially launched at Shepperton by skipper David Hosking’s daughter Sophie, gold medalist at the London 2012 Olympics.

After pouring champagne over the bow of the double-cabined, 24-four-feet long ocean racing boat, Sophie - winner with Kat Copeland of the women’s double lightweight sculls - admitted rowing round Britain does not appeal to her at all.

Sophie, 27, said: “I think he’s nuts in the nicest possible way! You wouldn’t catch me doing that but it’s his dream and I’ll be supporting him…from dry land.”

Falklands veteran David, 58, pictured above right with his daughter, said: “I’ve been around the coast about 20 times in naval ships and I know just how bad it can be. Once off Cape Wrath in the north of Scotland we were hit by 110 knot winds! But if we get good weather the record can be broken.”

Over Easter, Team Hallin rowed down the Thames, from Shepperton to the QE2 bridge at Dartford. It was so cold during their sea trials the boat’s on-board water maker and the fuel cell froze.

The teams – made up of four oarsmen and women or pairs – will row non-stop and unassisted from the Thames, around Land’s End, up to John O’Groats and back to the London.

They will be trying to beat the record of 26 days, 14 hours and 12 minutes set in 2005 by a four-man crew from the Grenadier Guards who were almost drowned when their boat was hit by a Force Ten storm in the Irish Sea.

The race sets off from HMS President at high tide – around 8am – on Saturday, June 1st . The crews will row upstream under Tower Bridge before turning around, going back under the bridge and heading out to sea.


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