Ad of the Day: Duracell Joins 2 Guys on Insane Boat Ride Across the Atlantic

Youngest pair to row all the way

Row, row, row your boat … 3,000 miles without stopping!?

Meet Luke Birch and Jamie Sparks, two British endurance-sports mavens who recently became the youngest pair ever to row across the Atlantic. That's the Atlantic freaking Ocean! Shit, I get tired and cranky paddling an inflatable seahorsie around a swimming pool. They were both 21 when the trip began; Jamie turned 22 on the way.

2 Boys in a Boat, a brief documentary from Grey London and Duracell, which sponsored the voyage, vividly captures the harrowing 54-day journey. Most of the footage was recorded with their own cameras. It's a compelling piece of brand content, with the battery maker wisely playing second mate and discretely appearing only via onboard signage and at the end with the tagline, "The power to go further."

Luke and Jamie finished fifth overall and second in pairs in the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge, which bills itself as the world's toughest rowing competition. The race stretches from San Sebastian de la Gomera in the Canary Islands to Antigua in the Caribbean. The guys piloted a 24-footer, the Maple Leaf, which contained a cabin that measured six feet high by three feet wide. They never left the boat and had no support vessel.

The trip took 1.5 million strokes. I would have had at least one stroke and multiple heart attacks a quarter mile from port. Luke and Jamie faced 40-foot waves, 40-mph winds, salt sores that look like radiation blisters and shark fins to the left and right. They lost about 25 pounds each from nonstop rowing (despite intense calorie consumption) and never slept for more than 80 minutes at a time. At one point, a Russian container ship almost mowed them down. (Putin's everywhere these days!)

Apart from the physical challenges, the psychological strain was equally draining. In the clip, Jamie says: "There's nothing to look at apart from dark blue sea, so you're left with absolutely nothing but your thoughts. I remember crawling into the cabin and just breaking down into tears. I had run out of things to think of."

During their voyage, they raised $500,000 for Breast Cancer Care. Luke's mom was diagnosed in the summer of 2012. She was in Antigua to greet them at the end of the race.

"Giving up was never an option," Jamie says in the film. "Not on the 12th hour, not on the 20th day, not on the 50th day. There was no way anything under our power was going to lead to us giving up."

Great going, guys! Next time, try the Pacific. Lazy millennials.


Client: Duracell

AMD WE Delivery & RPP BFO: Javier Hernandez

Duracell Brand Manager U.K., Nordics: Menna Zaghloul

EMEA External Relations: Kenyatte Nelson

Assistant Brand Manager: Alexander Radcliffe

Project: 2 Boys in a Boat

Agency: Grey, London

Creative Director: Andy Lockley

Executive Creative Director: Nils Leonard

Copywriter, Art Director: Andy Lockley

Creative Producer: Sam Morton

Planner: Bhavin Pabari

Media Agency: SMV

Media Planner: David Boast

Production Company: Greyworks

Editor: Emily Macdonald

Producer: Emma Hayton

Postproduction: Greyworks

Composer: Terry Devine-King 

Audio Postproduction: Greyworks

Online, Public Relations: Exposure

@DaveGian David Gianatasio is a longtime contributor to Adweek, where he has been a writer and editor for two decades. Previously serving as Adweek's New England bureau chief and web editor, he remains based in Boston.