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One humdinger of a challenge as former Royal Marine sets off on solo row across the Atlantic

Dave 'Dinger' Bell pictured in New York Harbour in the run-up to his solo unsupported row across the Atlantic.

By Staff Reporter [email protected]

Published: June 4, 2021 | Updated: 11th June 2021

One man.

One boat.

And one almighty ocean.

Years of planning finally came to a head on May 31, when, at 1.55am local time, Dave ‘Dinger’ Bell launched from Liberty Landing Marina in New York, USA.

Ahead of him an epic 3,118 mile journey as he attempts to row solo and unsupported west to east across the North Atlantic to Falmouth in Cornwall.

The ex-Royal Marine left the Big Apple with everything he needed to complete the entire crossing.

Rowing solo from New York to continental Europe unsupported has never been done before.

Fewer than 60 people have ever rowed across the North Atlantic.

Speaking to Dorset Biz News last December, Dinger, pictured, who lives in Bere Regis, said: “I’m quite scared of what I’m attempting to do but I’m using that fear to drive me on.

“I’ve done some tough things and, to be honest, I don’t know if my body will hold out.

“But I’m curious to see if I can do this and I have a quiet determination to succeed.

“After all, if you don’t try, you’ll never know.”

Dinger was given the nickname (based on his surname Bell) on his first day with the Royal Marines – it’s been with him ever since.

He served 20 years in the Royal Marines, leaving in 2010 with the rank of Colour Sergeant.

The 49-year-old first developed an interest in rowing the Atlantic in 1997.

But the idea only crystalised after working in Jamaica, one of the jobs undertaken after leaving the armed forces.

Six years ago he decided to press ahead with the challenge but only started telling people in 2018.

The solo row is self-funded.

Every penny raised will go directly to his designated UK charities, the Special Boat Service Association (SBSA) and Rock2Recovery.

So far more than £16,300, including Gift Aid, has been raised.

You can donate here.

The challenge is backed by 35 sponsors while among the businesses Dinger is promoting is Bravery, the Poole-based extreme clothing brand founded by Toby Gutteridge.

The former Royal Marine was paralysed from the neck down after a bullet severed his spinal cord while serving in Afghanistan 12 years ago.

Dinger bought his boat, now named Billy No Mates, pictured, from Avon Marina, formerly Rossiters, in Christchurch.

It was used in the annual 3,000 mile Talisker Whiskey Atlantic Challenge, where up to 30 teams row the Mid Atlantic.

The boat was abandoned by its crew and picked up by a fishing vessel before being returned to the UK.

What’s been dubbed as NY2UKSoloRow got off a strong start with Dinger taking just 3.5 hours to row across New York Harbour, under the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge, pictured left, and towards the gateway to the Atlantic.

It could take Dinger up to four months to complete his challenge.

Barry Hayes, pictured right, who is handling Dinger’s social media and has himself rowed across both the Pacific and Indian Oceans, said: “We’re really not sure how long it’ll take him to complete this crossing.

“No one has rowed from mainland USA to mainland UK solo and unassisted before.

“However, the two most similar successful crossings were Gerard d’Aboville who rowed from Massachusetts to the Lizard Meridian line before being towed into Brittany in 1980, and Olly Hicks who rowed from New Jersey to the Isles of Scilly in 2005.

“It took them 71 and 124 days respectively.

“Dinger is rowing further than both, so we think that it could be three or even four months.”

NY2UKSoloRow sponsors:

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