Bill Lucas, 27, began rowing at Dart Totnes Rowing Club and went on to become U23 World Champion in the double scull before making the Team GB squad for the London 2012 Olympics.

Bill and Sam Townsend formed a new partnership for the World Cup series ahead of the Games, winning silver in Belgrade and placing fourth in Munich before finishing fifth in the Olympic final.

After a lower back injury put an end to Bill’s hopes of making it to Rio 2016, he is now keen to build a new career in the sailing world which is why he has opted for the Southern Ocean crossing from Cape Town to Albany, Western Australia. Bill says: “I have been used to competing in rowing races which last six minutes. Crossing the Southern Ocean takes more than three weeks. It is going to be quite a big test.”

“Physically, the sailing mirrors our training camps, although at sea it will be over a much longer period. It is going to be a very different experience to what I am used to.”

After sailing dinghies as a child, this 5,575 mile journey on board GREAT Britain will be Bill’s first real taste of what it might lie ahead in his new ambitions to a be a grinder for a professional sailing team.

“When I got on board I couldn’t remember anything from all those years ago and although there was so much information to take in after a couple of days it started to come back,” added Bill after his Level 1 training. “The couple of days were we really got some speed up on the boat was really good. I loved it when we were crashing through the waves.”

Bill is a patron of the Dame Kelly Holmes trust which supports disadvantaged young people through mentoring programmes led by world-class athletes.

Dame Kelly Holmes says: “I am delighted that Bill has decided to embark on an adventure like this. It’s great to be able to see athletes overcoming and achieving so much after retiring- especially in the face of adversity.

“It is so important to get the right kind of support after competing and it’s because of resilient people like Bill who believe in our work that we can empower athletes and young people who need it most. I wish him the best of luck!”

Outside of rowing, Bill’s greatest challenge so far was climbing Mt Kilimanjaro in 2004.

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