Harwin backs environmentally-focused endurance race: "the world's toughest rowing race"

12 April 2022

Harwin sponsors GB Row Challenge
Harwin sponsors GB Row Challenge

Gruelling round-Britain GB Row Challenge tests levels of physical stamina, as well as measuring levels of sea pollution. Team sponsor, Harwin is also an engineering technology partner.

Interconnect manufacturer, Harwin is proud to announce its support for the 2022 GB Row Challenge. Not only is Harwin contributing to the race as a team sponsor, but they're also working as a technology partner, applying their engineering expertise to provide reliable design solutions for the bespoke sampling equipment onboard the ocean racing boats. First held in 2005, the race has set a number of world records and is billed as 'the world's toughest rowing race' and the ultimate rowing challenge. The competition around Great Britain is a continuous circumnavigation of mainland Britain. Starting at London's Tower Bridge on 12th June, the teams will embark on a gruelling 2000 mile-long route.

The competing crews, including ex-service personnel, scientists and elite athletes, will row non-stop without support. All are attempting to break the current record of finishing in just 26 days and 9 hours. They will have to cope with the most severe sea conditions, unforgiving weather, and huge physical and mental challenges; while navigating their way around British coastal waters, the participating teams will also conduct several important scientific research tasks. These will include:

•    Measuring the biodiversity of marine life to see what impact pollutants are having

•    Taking samples of seawater to determine the amounts of micro-plastics present  

•    Monitoring noise pollution levels

•    Regularly recording seawater temperature to track the effects of climate change over time

•    Locating hotspots where environmental damage is particularly bad

Instrumentation in the boats developed in partnership with Harwin will extract water samples during the race. Scientists from the University of Portsmouth will then review these samples.

The University of Portsmouth's Dr. Fay Couceiro, who is also involved in the ecological aspect of the GB Row Challenge, explains: "This race will allow us to get a baseline for our oceans at the moment. Once we have that baseline, this annual circumnavigation will allow us to know if our seas are getting better or worse and in which areas. Monitoring microplastics, underwater noise pollution and eDNA (environmental DNA is nuclear or mitochondrial DNA that is released from organisms, plants or animals, into the water) on this scale have never been done before in British waters, so we don't yet know the trends or extent of our impact as humans on the oceans.

"For example, there is currently no complete map for the UK concentrations of microplastics in the coastal waters. The closest map comes from Cefas (the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science, an executive agency of DEFRA, the UK government Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs), but there are still areas where no data has been collected. How concentrations change over time is also yet to be explored. Data collected during the annual GB Row Challenge will significantly improve our understanding of the changing numbers of microplastics in our waters."

Andrew McQuilken, Chief Revenue Officer at Harwin states: "Harwin is passionate about creating technology capable of withstanding the most challenging environments. There are obvious synergies between what we do and what this year's GB Row teams are looking to achieve as they prepare to take on the elements in this unique challenge. We are excited to be playing a part in it and wish all the participants the best of luck."

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