A BARRY adventure seeker is set to get naked in an attempt to row 3,000 miles across the Atlantic for charity next year.

Firefighter John Haskell will shed his uniform and casual clothing for the mammoth challenge, that will see him launch his state-of-the-art rowing boat from La Gomera in Tenerife and journey to the English Harbour in Antigua.

The 42-year-old Barry RFC prop, who has also played for the Wales and Great Britain fire service teams, is preparing to abandon the sport he loves to embark on a one-year slog to raise more than £100,000 for three charities close to his heart.

John, a firefighter at Barry fire station for 15 years with seven years service at the Ely base, hopes the two-to-three month expedition will boost the coffers of the Fire Fighters Charity, as well as Help For Heroes and breast cancer charities.

He needs your help to ensure that he and his rowing partner – fellow Ely firefighter and ex-Royal Marine Kevin Dite – return safely home with a wealth of funds.

The former Gladstone and Barry Boys pupil decided to help the Fire Fighters Charity following the death of a former colleague on duty, and its assistance to him as he recovered from a broken shoulder.

And the dad of Megan, seven, and Morgan, four, hopes to contribute to a breast cancer charity after wife Sian, 39, made a successful recovery from the disease.

John, of Rhoose, said rowing the Atlantic Ocean unsupported was on his list of ‘adventurous things to do’ - alongside the Marathon des Sables and an unsupported trek to the North Pole.

He said: "I have always been a bit of an armchair extreme sportsman.

"I have read all the Ranulph Fiennes books and ones about other expeditions - but I’ve only ever rowed on the Knap Lake as a kid!"

John will soon take delivery of a 7m x 2m Woodvale Ocean Class rowing boat from its display at Swansea’s National Waterfront Museum – a hand-me-down from firefighters Simon Evans and Michael Arnold, who completed a 76-day Atlantic crossing.

He will then begin training and fundraising for the voyage he has dubbed The Atlantic Dash, during which he will need to consume 8,000 calories a day, and row naked to avoid chafing and saltwater sores.

Factor 50 sunblock and vaseline will be top of the shopping list for the expedition, during which the rowers will face dangers including capsizing, 60ft waves, wayward cargo vessels and inspection from visiting sharks.

To date, more people have climbed Mount Everest than completed the Atlantic rowing challenge.

But self-confessed ‘wildlife nut’ John says he is looking forward to spotting dolphins, whales and fish and sharing sightings via videophone.

"You can lose 20 per cent of your body weight," added 17-stone John.

"It’s probably the only way I’m going to get a six-pack!"

The row is scheduled to begin in December 2011 with fundraising underway now.


JOHN is interested in hearing from anyone who can help with the expedition in any way, and from schools who would like to follow the duo’s progress.

He will be drumming up support and spreading the fire safety message at shopping centres throughout South Wales, and wants to hear from anyone who can help him complete his necessary sea-faring courses.

Any individuals or businesses who want to make a contribution to fundraising, with sponsorship, raffle prizes or auction items, as part of The Atlantic Dash, can email John on team@atlanticdash.com or team@atlanticdash.co.uk