Lanzarote to Antigua: RAF team The Atlantic Rocks row for charity

After an intense couple of years planning, a team of Royal Air Force personnel are currently in a daunting race across the Atlantic Ocean to raise vital funds for organisations including SSAFA, the Armed Forces charity. The Atlantic Rocks are taking part in the C-MAP Atlantic Dash which kicked off in January, a 3200-mile pursuit from Rubicon Marina, Lanzarote to Jolly Harbour, Antigua.

The group was founded by Corporal Gary “Binnsy” Binns in 2020. The team was confirmed in May 2023: Sergeant Phil “Gus” Angus, Sergeant Dan Martin, Corporal Justin “Wally” Wallace, and Binns, all RAF Regiment Gunners. The team are also receiving assistance from Resilience Adviser Sergeant Tom Hanlon and two Project Officers, Flight Lieutenant Aimee Martin and Flying Officer Fran Tilley.

The boat ‘Sentinel’ is a 29ft purpose-built ocean rowing boat (Rossiter 2) with two sleeping compartments. The team plan on running a rotation of three hours on, three hours off for the entirety of the challenge. They are now well underway with their amazing endeavour, with the aim of raising vital funds for five charities close to their hearts: SSAFA, the Armed Forces charity, Tough Enough to Care, Mental Health Research UK, The Veterans Charity, and The Centurion Fund.

They are seeking donations to help motivate them throughout the challenge. A donation of £25 or more will secure the donor’s name being displayed on the side of the boat. More information can be viewed on their dedicated website here:

The Atlantic Rocks have no doubt this challenge is going to be one of the most physically and mentally demanding events they will ever participate in. The thought of helping even just a handful of people makes all the preparation and training worthwhile.

The Atlantic Rocks team bios: 

Gus is the skipper of the boat, and he has served 17 years in the RAF Regiment. A three-time veteran of Afghanistan and the Middle East, he could often be found on the forecourt of Buckingham Palace during his early career while he served on the Queens Colour Squadron. He currently enjoys supporting and shaping RAF recruits through basic training as a Phase 1 Instructor. Gus is driven to complete the row to raise money for Mental Health Research, having lost his uncle-in-law in 2019 after a long-suffering battle with mental health.

Dan is currently serving his 21st year in the RAF Regiment. A two-time veteran of Iraq and three-time veteran of Afghanistan, Dan’s early years in the Regiment was spent on the Queens Colour Squadron where he and Gus became friends. Dan is adamant to complete the row to raise money for his charity ‘Tough Enough to Care’, which is a mental health charity specialising in men’s mental health. Dan wants to raise awareness of the charity and persuade men that its ok to speak up and ask for help.

Binnsy is the lead organiser who started this endeavour and put the team together. He has served 19 years in the RAF Regiment. He has conducted multiple tours of Iraq and Afghanistan. On completion of his basic training, he qualified as a military parachutist. He currently trains the military reservist for joining their trade units. This challenge will see him raise money for “The Veterans Charity”, who help provide immediate support to veterans who are struggling with hardship.

Wally joined the RAF Regiment in Nov 2005. He served for a total of 10 years on 2 Squadron and passed Pre-Para Selection Course. He has served in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Cyprus. He is currently training the RAF Chinook Force for their Per-Deployment training at RAF Odiham. He has also passed his SERE B Instructor course. Wally is undertaking this challenge to test his mental and physical capabilities, as he has known many that have lost their lives to mental health.

Aimee joined the RAF in 2008 as a Mechanical Transport Driver. She commissioned as a Provost Officer in 2020. She has completed tours in The Falklands, Afghanistan, Kenya, Sierra Leone, and Cyprus. Aimee was keen to get involved with this challenging event to best support the team throughout their endeavours and to assist in raising money for the five charities to enhance wider perspectives of the amazing work they each carry out.

Fran joined the RAF in 2019 as an RAF Police non-commissioned officer, prior to commissioning as a Provost Officer in 2021. While on hold prior to her specialist trade training, Fran was part of a small team that organised and participated in a squadron-wide 24-hour charity rugby event that raised money for four charities. This is invaluable experience that will be utilised in assisting the Atlantic Rocks team.

Tom has worked at four of the RAF Robson Resilience Centres based in the UK national parks and European Alps in his 19-year career. He uses the latest scientific research to develop leaders and teams in high risk and extremely challenging environments, as well as manages the RAF recruits’ physical and mental performance programme. Tom is highly energetic, coupled with a fascination in both the psychology and physiology within human performance and how to achieve success for the individual athlete and within teams.

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