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From flight deck to boat deck

by Nancy Jackson Media and Communications Officer

Three airline pilots have swapped the flight deck for the boat deck in a 200-mile, non-stop ocean rowing race to raise awareness about the urgent need to give boys the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) vaccination to help eradicate 5% of all cancers. Captain Carl Bagshaw, Captain Rob Mead and Senior First Officer Steve McLean will be racing against Alex Gregory MBE, a two-time Olympic gold medallist.

You can read more about the pilots here

The ’No Man is an Island (NOMAN)’ race, is from Barcelona to Ibiza and is in aid of the HPV and Anal Cancer Foundation.

The race is expected to take over 70 hours with the amateur rowers having to deal with sharks, powerful waves, busy shipping lanes, blistering 40-degree heat and seasickness. Each team will share a 7.3m long boat equipped with two seats and a small sleeping space, taking it in turns to row for two hours and rest for two hours.

This latest race was delayed because of bad weather and rough seas in the area. But now they’re off and you can follow their progress here:

Before they set off, British Airways pilots Carl, Rob and Steve, said:

“Having never ocean rowed before it’s going to be a real test of endurance, both mentally and physically. We’ve all been training incredibly hard and hopefully it will pay off as we get stuck into the 200-mile non-stop race. We’re under no illusion that it will be easy but if it means more people get to hear and learn about the race to end HPV-related cancers then every second will be worth it.”

Over 2,000 men a year in the UK are diagnosed with a HPV-related cancer – almost half will die from the condition within five years. Yet almost 400,000 boys a year are denied the vaccination that could protect them from developing a HPV-related cancer.

The NOMAN ocean race was created by Tristan, Justine and Camille Almada, whose mother died from stage IV HPV-related cancer in 2010. The race represents the struggle and isolation that many cancer patients feel especially those that carry an extremely challenging stigma.

Tristan Almada, co-founder of the HPV and Anal Cancer Foundation, said: “We’re rowing because we want to raise awareness about the urgent need to vaccinate boys as well as girls so men are equally protected from such devastating and deadly cancers.”

“There are already 11 countries vaccinating boys, including the USA, Australia and Israel . The UK government is expected to announce soon whether the HPV vaccination will be available to boys as well as girls.

“Since the race began in 2011 it has raised over £1.5 million worldwide for the HPV and Anal Cancer Foundation. More information on how these preventable cancers are being eliminated and the race itself is available on the Nomancampaign.org website.”