THREE rowers from the Isle of Wight are all set to take on the biggest fundraiser imaginable — The World’s Toughest Row Atlantic Challenge — which starts in just over a fortnight.

The Island's Mermaid Atlantic team comprises Chris Mannion, who owns iSurf; Paul Berry, a Ventnor longshoreman and firefighter; and Xavier Baker, the co-founder of the Isle of Wight Distillery.

Taking on what has been described as the world's most gruelling rowing event, the trio are on a mission to raise funds and awareness of three charities close to their hearts — The Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust, The Seahorse Trust and Surfers Against Sewage.

On Tuesday, December 12, they will set off on their 3,000-mile odyssey from La Gomera, in the Canary Islands, to Nelson's Dockyard, in the Caribbean island of Antigua — all in support of ocean preservation.

They aim to raise at least £7,500 in total, split three ways between their chosen causes.

Xavier told the County Press: "We fly out to the Canary Islands on Wednesday, where we will be doing all of our thorough checks before we push off on December 12.

"It has been three years in the planning, with intensive training for it since January, and now it is almost here.

"I am feeling a mix of excitement and trepidation about it. There will be plenty we won't have experienced before, but we feel we have prepared for it as well as we can. 

"We are looking forward to the simplicity of life and in realising our own significance on our planet. It will be quite an overwhelming experience — and no doubt quite daunting at times.

"We estimate our incredible journey ahead will take about 40 days, which means we should reach Antigua in the third or fourth week of January."