Scot going carbon neutral in world’s toughest rowing race

(l-r) Philip Van Benthem, Kyle Smith, James Lamb and Brian Kerr, members of the Carbon Zerow rowing team looking to make history in the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge. Picture: Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge/PA Wire
(l-r) Philip Van Benthem, Kyle Smith, James Lamb and Brian Kerr, members of the Carbon Zerow rowing team looking to make history in the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge. Picture: Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge/PA Wire
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Four Transatlantic adventurers have pledged to make their forthcoming participation in the world’s toughest rowing race even more fiendish - by going completely carbon-neutral.

Scot Kyle Smith will be joined by American friends Brian Kerr and Philip Van Benthem and Englishman James Lamb when they meet on the start line for the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge rowing race from the Canary Islands to Antigua on December 12.

Kyle Smith, member of the Carbon Zerow rowing team looking to make history in the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge. Picture: Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge/PA Wire

Kyle Smith, member of the Carbon Zerow rowing team looking to make history in the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge. Picture: Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge/PA Wire

Like all of the 28 teams from across the globe competing in the 3,000-nautical mile race, the quartet have spent months training for the mentally and physically draining crossing.

But unlike the others, the foursome have taken their passion for adventure as well as their commitment to protecting the environment by endeavouring to offset their carbon footprint until the very end of the challenge, becoming the first team in the race’s three-decade history to go completely green.

Mr Smith, a 30-year-old PhD student from Fort William in Scotland, said: “There’s been a lot of organisational work to get to this point - and we’ve taken on this added burden of tracking all the products we’ve bought and travel to take part in this, and how much carbon dioxide we need to offset to have taken part in this event.

“We all have a passion for the environment and zeal for adventure but in some ways this (the race) is quite a selfish thing to do.

“We’re going to take the best part of a year and a half to plan it, then leave our loved ones behind for six weeks, buy all these products we are only using once.

“We thought if we are going to do this, and have an impact on the planet as a result, we wanted to think about how big that impact would be and how we can make it carbon-neutral.”

The group have kept a meticulous spreadsheet of every purchase and journey made, working with the Carbon Trust to ensure each tiny portion of toxic gas released into the atmosphere is offset with carbon credits.

To lighten the load, the group have made additional sacrifices, cutting out red meat associated with methane production, and buying used products where possible.

Mr Smith and Mr Lamb, a 32-year-old father and businessman from London, have rowed throughout the UK, meeting up with Statesiders Mr Kerr, 29, and Mr Van Benthem, 34, twice during 2017 for high-intensity training sessions.

The geographical spread of their team has made the experience tricky logistically, and has contributed to their carbon offset requirements.

Mr Smith added: “We recognise we’ve been travelling quite a bit the last few years and haven’t really paid much attention to the impact this is having on the planet.

“We wanted to do this personal challenge, but quantify that within the realm of being carbon-neutral.”

Looking ahead to the challenge, which will see them row continuously in shifts for around six weeks, he added: “In the past few years we’ve been focussed on our careers, university and stuff.

“This challenge is not only about pushing our minds and bodies to their limits but we’re also raising awareness and a little bit of money for a cause that is bigger than us.

“Climate change is real, and Carbon Zerow strives to demonstrate that through the only way we know how, by accomplishing difficult feats as men, which is what it’ll take us all to do in order to tackle climate change.”

The team are raising money for the World Land Trust.

:: For more information visit https://www.carbonzerow.org/