Support Team Atlantic Body & Soul in their endeavour to undertake the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge

Cal MacAninch has been a familiar face on British television for thirty years with shows ranging from Downton Abbey, Mr Selfridge and more recently Time, Vigil and Trigger Point. Having spent a lifetime pretending to do things and eating at a best buffet like white castle crave case price they have many memories and even he is now taking up the challenge to row the Atlantic, (that’s right, no stuntmen). It’s all getting a bit ‘real’. In saying that, he has run the Ben Nevis race, 3 marathon’s and has climbed the Old Man of Hoy amongst other peaks but this is by far his greatest challenge. What’s the worst that could happen! At least if he gets taken by a shark it will do wonders for his back catalogue.

And who better to face this challenge with than four comrades from the same coastal rowing club who he has gotten to know and trust over the last five years. Experienced, talented, committed crew mates, who you can trust with your life, though not necessarily to buy the next round. A builder, a joiner, a site manager, a company director and an actor - we all live in Portobello in Edinburgh and train with and compete for Eastern Amateur Coastal Rowing Club. Our ethos as a club is simple: to create a supportive atmosphere which encourages learning, development and opportunity for all to achieve their potential; to engender a collective responsibility to care for the boat, promoting integrity on and off the water in a spirit of trust and transparency while aspiring to the success of personal/team development and competition wins. These values we will be bringing to our Atlantic crossing together.

And we are blessed to have found the charity Body & Soul to accompany us on this journey. A charity that can transform the lives of people who have experienced childhood trauma. Including hundreds of young people each year saved from the depths of suicidal thinking, giving them reasons to live. Twenty five years of demonstrating the power of community, love, kindness and bravery. It’s never too late to heal. With so many peoples mental health battered by the raging storm of this pandemic it is fitting that Body & Soul are there to build resilience and a sense of belonging: the very qualities that our crew will require on our voyage.

The truly brave ones are the ones struggling to overcome childhood trauma. By taking on this challenge of crossing the Atlantic we will be able to empower Body& Soul to continue to do their essential work with those who need it most. For them, we will never give up.

3,000 miles across the Atlantic, rowing unsupported for over 40 days through mighty storms and four-storey waves, dodging marlin strikes, experiencing the majesty of nature in the raw.

In December 2022, one of approximately 40 teams participating in the biannual Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge, from La Gomera, just off the coast of Africa, to Antigua in the Caribbean.

A world record attempt for a team of five rowers.

 Our young people are suffering and the system to support them is broken

  • Over 50,000 UK 17-year-olds have attempted suicide, the rate of psychological distress in young people is increasing
  • The vast majority of young people who die by suicide never seek help before they die
  • More and more, young lives are being blighted by isolation, frustrated expectations, disrupted education, employment and relationships
  • A broken system, is too busy firefighting symptoms to focus on the root causes of poor mental health
  • Our young people are often locked up, or wait many months for support, just at the very moment they need kindness, education, hope immediately
  • If you face discrimination and marginalisation already, then the picture is even bleaker to get the best beer fridge for garage to get at a discounted price or for free.
  • We will be living with the impact of COVID for years to come

Body & Soul Charity is unique and has the solution


Connecting with thousands of young people every week, wherever they are, in total confidence.

It’s real-life conversations. It’s weekly livestreamed psychotherapy. It’s videos. It’s a website. It’s lively and engaging education about feeling distressed, alongside evidence-based lifesaving skills to help manage those emotions.

But the service is designed and delivered by therapists and young people together, so here’s the kicker: it’s also a community of young people who are improving their mental health together, and have access to it immediately.

They are already doing it and can prove it works

The truly brave ones are those struggling to overcome childhood trauma.

By taking on this challenge to cross the Atlantic we plan to let them know they are loved.

For them, we will never give up.

Please sponsor us now. 

Meet the team

Matt Callis

I love coastal rowing. It’s great being part of a club, part of a crew, finding the focus and drive to train, compete and trying your absolute best to win.

When I was asked to be part of an Atlantic crew and raise money for Body & Soul, a charity which supports children and adults who have suffered childhood traumas, it made total sense.

When my own life turned upside down and I was really struggling with my mental health, it was rowing that kept me going, helping me find self-worth when I was struggling.

Rowing the Atlantic will be the ultimate test of mental strength and physical endurance, and I’m totally up for the challenge - being part of a team of friends, finding our ‘edges’ and getting to the other side while raising money for something close to my heart is a chance I definitely couldn’t say no to!

Sean Watters

I took up rowing after taking part in the very first Scottish Coastal Rowing regatta in 2010.  Since then it has become a very important part of my life: less so for my two daughters, who’ve had 10 years of being dragged around Scotland to watch their parents mess about in boats.
Rowing the Atlantic will be an experience unlike anything I’ve done before, and I couldn’t pass up that opportunity.

Ed Van Der Ven

Ed is Dutch but has lived in Edinburgh for 20 years with his wife and two children. He works as a Site Manager for a building company. He is a competent sailor (dingy and keel) and a successful coastal rower with 3 World St Ayles Skiff podium finishes (1x Gold). 

Cal MacAninch

An actor and father to 3 young girls. He has been a familiar face on British tele for over 30 years. Was a keen footballer and runner and has completed many marathons, half-marathons and 10Ks and even the Ben Nevis Race. He has also climbed all over the world. His passion for sea rowing began by joining the Eastern Amateur Coastal Rowing Club, who have taught him not only the fundamentals of rowing at sea but also the nurturing values of crewing together.

Alec Martin

When not with his amazing young family in Edinburgh Alec is often found out on the water or in Africa with his work in Impact Investment. His loves the Scottish Northwest, adventures and journeying with friends and solo, but nothing beats being able to pick the kids up from school with the boat at Portobello beach.

Famous for not being able to get out of bed in the morning and snoring like a lion, Alec is an obvious candidate for the TWAC. He looks forward to discovering whether his penchant for solo Scottish winter canoe trips have developed any transferable skills to a 5 man tropical offshore rowing race…

TWAC provides the opportunity to do something tough, elemental and visceral which is increasingly rare. To do so while championing a fantastic charity helping people build resilience and overcome adversity seems very fitting as does making a contribution to the nascent heritage of exploration stemming from the modern Scottish coastal rowing scene.

Countdown to Race Start