Ben Hooper, a former policeman from Cheltenham, UK, plans to become the first person to swim across the Atlantic Ocean this winter. Setting out on December 31, 2015, Hooper will see in the New Year by charting a course from Dakar, Senegal to Natal, Brazil, covering nearly 2,000 miles in (what he hopes will be) 90 days.
Hooper is undertaking this mammoth task in aid of three charities: cancer charity Maggie’s, drug charity Addaction and SOS Children’s Villages. His goal is to raise £1 million – with £150,000 needed just to reach the start line.
However, once he reaches the start a gruelling regime of 12-hour days awaits. Hooper aims to swim 20 miles per day, starting at 5am and finishing at 7pm, burning up to 12,000 calories per day. On top of this, Hooper is likely to swim with sharks, jellyfish and other potentially dangerous sea creatures – although a stinger suit and Shark Shield repelling device are allowed if necessary.
Notoriously unpredictable, the often rough seas of the Atlantic mean that instead of swimming straight across the ocean Hooper will be forced to swim in an L-shape to avoid the worst of the waves. This route adds roughly 300 miles on to the challenge but is the only way to avoid any potential disasters at sea.
Should Hooper come into danger, he will be followed and monitored closely by a 15 metre catamaran where he will also eat and sleep. The boat will also house a videographer documenting the swim and an observer logging every mile to provide the transparency needed to officially acknowledge it as the first Atlantic crossing. Hooper will also wear a GPS device attached to his wetsuit allowing people back home to track him on their mobile devices.
With the swim just over two months away there is still plenty of time to show your support with a donation. Hooper is encouraging supporters to ‘buy a mile’ of his swim for £10 at bensmiles.co.uk which will get your name written on the exterior of the support boat. Direct donations can also be made at swimthebigblue.com.