A FORMER SAS soldier is set to row 3,100 miles across the Atlantic with only the sun and stars to guide him, inspired after being kidnapped in Syria.

Ian Rivers, from Hereford, is taking on the mammoth challenge without any support, including any access to GPS.

The former SAS soldier with take on the Row Sentinel Atlantic Challenge which will see him leave New York in May and row the 3100 plus nautical miles to the Isles of Scilly.

The crossing will test his endurance, navigation and seamanship to the absolute limit, and nobody has ever managed to complete an unsupported solo row of the Atlantic using the Northern Route.

He will be rowing for between nine and 12 hours each day and thinks the crossing will take him between 60 and 90 days, and he is expected to face a tropical storm every two weeks.


Mr Rivers, 55, joined the army after becoming inspired by the Falklands War.

He fought in theatres across the world and was a member of 22 Special Air Service regiment, based at Credenhill, for more than a decade. 

In December 2012, while working for an American news network, he was kidnapped in Syria. He escaped his captors and managed to find his way to safety using only natural indicators, such as the stars.

And those stars will now help guide him across the Atlantic from the United States.

Mr Rivers, who has just become a grandfather, is a qualified mountain guide and was part of the British Army West Ridge Everest challenge in 2006.

Hereford Times: Ian Rivers, who was kidnapped while working for an American TV network in Syria Ian Rivers, who was kidnapped while working for an American TV network in Syria

He is a qualified ocean yacht master and has represented Britain in the age group European and World championships.

“I’d describe myself as an adventurer,” he said.

“I’ve always been drawn to the ocean, ever since I was a kid. It frees you up. I’ve wanted to attempt this challenge since I was in my 20s.

“I’m looking forward to the calmness, the equilibrium of being alone for a long time.

"If I’m honest, I don’t really like my own company so it’s the ultimate challenge for me to be on my own for that long.”


He will be attempting to raising more than £500,000 for the SAS Regimental Association’s Sentinels programme and the Bartestree-based St Michael’s Hospice.

The Row Sentinel Atlantic crossing has only been possible thanks to the support Mr Rivers has received from his sponsors.

They are sports performance brand Grenade, cyber services company The Spectra Group, cyber security consultants Hexegic, and steel firm Valbruna.

Speaking about the fundraising, Mr Rivers said: “I’ve always believed that charity begins at home and if you don’t support the charities close to you they won’t be able to survive.

"The mental health of veterans is so important and it’s not that easy to seek help.

"The Sentinel programme works by linking people up so they can be your first port of call. I’ve had friends who’ve spent their last weeks at St Michael’s Hospice and it’s a wonderful place.

"It was a no brainer to support these great charities.”

Hereford Times: Ian Rivers will be doing the solo rowing challenging without GPS Ian Rivers will be doing the solo rowing challenging without GPS

A spokesman for the SAS Regimental Association said: “Over the last couple of years the SENTINELS Initiative has provided peer driven Mental Health support to its members with a range of support geared to meet the needs of the individual. 

"In 2021, Ian Rivers, himself a ‘Sentinel’, will attempt one of the last great solo challenges, to row, unsupported the northern route of the transatlantic crossing.

"In doing so, he highlights our Regimental ethos to the core, the unrelenting pursuit of excellence, the highest levels of self-discipline, equality, humility and bags of humour. He will need it. 

"We could not be prouder that he has chosen us as a joint beneficiary and we have been privileged to support this unique feat of endeavour."


Chris Smart from St Michael’s Hospice said: "St Michael's Hospice is delighted to have been chosen by Ian Rivers to be one of the charities that will benefit from his epic adventure.

"Staff, supporters, volunteers and patients will be following Ian and wishing him 'fair winds and following seas' while he embarks on his solo and unsupported row across the North Atlantic.

"Good luck, Ian, from everyone at your Hospice."

For more information about the fundraising click here.