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Couple bid to make history with 2,300-mile rowing challenge

A Scottish couple hope to become the first mixed pair to circumnavigate the UK mainland in a rowing boat unsupported.

Allan Lipp, who is coxswain mechanic at Wick RNLI, and his partner Mhairi Ross, a paramedic who is also a volunteer lifeboat crew member, plan to set off on Saturday.

Neither of them have a background in rowing, but they have been preparing for the 2,302-mile (3,706km) journey for past two years.

They are aiming to complete their fundraising venture in 60 days, travelling clockwise around the coast.

Mhairi in boat
The challenge involves rowing more than 2,000 miles around the UK mainland coast [RNLI/Stormy and Steth: The Long Row Home]
Mhairi and Allan
The couple are involved with Wick RNLI [RNLI/Stormy and Steth: The Long Row Home]

The row will raise money for the RNLI and Scotland’s Charity Air Ambulance.

To complete the attempt unsupported the couple must carry all the food they need, and they cannot come ashore or even tie up in a harbour.

They can seek shelter and drop anchor in bad weather.

Mr Lipp said: "Unsupported is one of the things we are keen to achieve.

"We couldn't even accept a Mars bar thrown from a passing boat."

Ms Ross added: "We've been offered fish and chips all around the coast, but we've said please don't bring them to us because we don't want people to be offended when we say 'no thank you'."

She said sorting out their food supply had been a challenge, especially as they would need to take on 6,000 calories a day during the epic row.

"It's not just a case of packing 6,000 calories-worth of chocolate, which Allan would be quite happy with," said Ms Ross.

Most of their food is made up of dehydrated rations, which are lightweight and the couple said have the calories and nutrition they would need.

Rowing boat
[RNLI/Stormy and Steth: The Long Row Home]

Their preparations have also included creating a gym with an exercise bike and rowing machine in an outbuilding at their home.

Mr Lipp said: "One of the biggest challenges we have had is time - we don't have enough hours in the day.

"We both lead very, very busy work lives. It's near impossible for us to go to the gym.

"Having one at the house means it is always open and we don't have any excuses not to go."

The venture will see the couple spending the longest time in each other's company.

Ms Ross said: "Between working shifts and the other things we do we often don't see each other for days at a time other than a quick 'hello' or 'goodbye'.

"But we have got a rule in place.

"If there is an argument or a misunderstanding then we have got a rowing shift and rest periods to put it to bed.

"We cannot be in a position where we are bickering.

"Communication is the key element of this whole challenge."