Mermaid Atlantic is three friends—Xavier Baker, Paul Berry, and Chris Mannion—from the Isle of Wight taking on the world's toughest row, Atlantic Challenge. With over 30 teams racing across 3000 nautical miles from the Canary Islands to the Caribbean, it is the ultimate test of strength, endurance and character. There are plenty of reasons why more people have attempted to climb Mount Everest than the number who have ever rowed the Atlantic Ocean, such as marlin strikes, sharks and 20ft waves, all while rowing around the clock in two-hour shifts.
Their purpose is to raise awareness and funds for marine conservation. The mission is two-fold: first, to communicate marine pollution's detrimental effects on our oceans. Plastic materials that do not decompose and raw effluent are discharged directly into our waterways, polluting the water, damaging ecosystems and threatening marine life.
The second is to raise awareness of seagrass's power and its role in combating the climate crisis. Home to many sea creatures and pivotal in protecting shorelines, seagrass is the unsung hero of the ocean, not to mention a huge carbon sink, sequestering it 35 times faster than the rainforests. However, its survival is threatened by human intervention, including mooring anchors, buoys and pollution, to name a few. The Solent has the longest Seagrass meadow in Europe from Osborne Bay to Bembridge Ledge.
Mermaid Atlantic are supporting 3 charities:
The Crew of Mermaid Atlantic:
XAVIER BAKER insta: xavier_baker77
Island life is perfect for Xav as he lives life one adventure at a time. Although well-versed in water sports, from surfing to sailing, rowing presents a new challenge. With his teammates having the same idea, the decision to row the Atlantic was a surprisingly easy one.
By day, Xav is co-founder and director of the Isle of Wight Distillery (home of Mermaid Gin), a trade where no day is the same and dull moments are in short supply, which suits him just fine, as he likes to live life through laughter. For him, the row means experiencing the true vastness of the ocean and completing another personal mission.
Calm-natured, focused and driven, Xav likes to be around similar-minded people with positive outlooks and to make the most of life. The environment plays a large part in his life, and he’s dedicated to protecting his surroundings to ensure its survival.
CHRIS MANNION (Manni) insta: iowsurfschool
As the owner of a surf school on the island, Chris, or Manni as he’s also known, is more often found in the water than not. Rowing, however, isn’t part of his usual arsenal, but he’s quite sure as long as he keeps feeding Paul, he won’t have too many issues.
The Atlantic challenge will provide him with focus, and he hopes his achievement will inspire his family to believe that anything is possible. As the row takes place over Christmas, he’s sure to miss them; however, the kids are excited by the Caribbean holiday to welcome him over the line.
Manni often works with young people who struggle with their mental health, something he is passionate about due to his own experiences, which affect him daily. As the row will be quite mentally demanding, he hopes to find confidence in speaking about it openly with a new outlook on life to support others in similar situations.
PAUL BERRY insta: paulbez9
Paul is a serving Firefighter and ex-Naval Petty Officer who has been rowing since childhood. His knowledge and experience will inform the most efficient plan for the big event, whether that’s regarding issues in the boat or the weather, as well as teaching the others how to row, a world which is very new to them.
A driven and ambitious individual, Paul enjoys working in a team, using his positivity to motivate others, although he has confessed to having ‘hangry’ tendencies! Paul has chosen this challenge as it is a true test of character because mental and physical strength is needed, but it also requires the right attitude to make good decisions in the wild environment.
His love for the sea ignited an interest in navigation and meteorology, both of which could become essential skills during the row. However, surfing and diving provide escapism from daily life and just happen to be how he met Xavier and Chris respectively.