Olly Hicks was the first and youngest person to row solo from the USA to the UK in 2005. A challenge that had already claimed five lives, Olly spent 124 days alone at sea battling the elements, rowing across the North Atlantic from New York to the Isles of Scilly. Then, setting the ultimate challenge to become the first person to row single-handedly around the world - it took three years of planning and fundraising for the 18000 mile, 20-month trip from Tasmania to South Georgia - he set off for the Virgin Global Row in 2009. Disappointingly, it had to be abandoned after “only” 96 days because of boat problems, but Olly became the first person to row the Tasman Sea, from Tasmania to New Zealand. Olly’s sole focus now is to try again, in the Global Row 2014.
As part of his expedition training, in August 2011, Olly rowed from Holland to Suffolk, recreating the gruelling journey in memory of the Engelandvaarders, young Dutchmen who tried to escape from Holland to England by kayak during World War II to join the allied forces. He was the only one of his 4 man team to complete the journey of 118 miles.
In the summer of 2013, Olly will attempt the world record challenge of the first kayak journey from Iceland to Scotland, covering some 500 nautical miles in around 20 days as he follows the migratory route of the Atlantic salmon, raising funds for the RNLI.
In 2006, he received the Peter Bird Trophy for tenacity and perseverance and was awarded first prize at the Moscow Film Festival in the adventure category. In 2007 he was highly commended as a young philanthropist by the Beacon Fellowship Charitable Trust in recognition of his work with Hope and Homes for Children and for raising over £160,000 for charity.
Olly is witty and understated. He gives a fascinating insight into what drives him to achieve his goals and the lessons he has learnt along the way – lessons about project management, team work and the importance of being good at maths. How Olly deals with fear and loneliness, success and failure, will resonate with audiences from all walks of life.