Champion Barbadian Rower to take on never-been-done-before expedition across Northwest Passage

Crew and vessel in training. Credit: Philip Als

One of Barbados’ most famed athletes Philip Als has already made history in his career when in 2003, he became one of the first Barbadian ocean rowers to successfully cross the Atlantic during the Woodvale Atlantic Rowing challenge.

And now, two decades after that amazing achievement, he has his sights set on an unprecedented challenge not just for Barbadians, but for the entire world. This coming July, Philip and his fellow crew members will depart from Canada in an attempt to row across the Northwest Passage, the sea lane that connects the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, going through the Arctic Ocean.

Philip and fellow crew. Credit: Philip Als

An expedition that has been ten years in the planning will provide Philip’s toughest challenge yet in a career that has already seen him compete professional as a windsurfer in Europe, USA and the Caribbean, row across the Atlantic Ocean in 43 days in 2003, as well as serve as coach to the Barbados Windsurfing team at the 2000 Sydney Olympics. He has also been recognised by the Barbados National Sports Council as one of the island’s sporting National Icons.

Philip joins a crew of eight from around the world for the expedition, led by world-leading ocean rower Leven Brown. On board are:

  • Philip Als – Barbados
  • Tuppence Mellish – UK
  • Davie Flett – Orkney
  • Mike Harding – UK
  • Daniel Kritzinger – South Africa
  • Livar Nysted – Faroe Islands
  • Andy Strachan – UK
  • Leven Brown – UK (Expedition Leader)

Training for the journey has been ongoing for many months and years and the team is now just a month away from the start date. Currently the boat that will see them across the Arctic Ocean is being delivered over 4500 miles from Scotland to Canada, which presents challenges with tough conditions to be experienced in delivery of the vessel. The boat itself is a carbon double-skinned rowing boat of 44ft. It will weigh almost 3 tonnes once all expedition necessities are brought on board and will take approximately two months to transport the ship to Canada from Scotland according to Brown. Once they begin, Philip and his fellow crewmates will be hoping to complete the journey in approximately three months. The entire expedition, including the transfer of the ship from Scotland to Canada, will cover over 7200 miles!

Philip and fellow crew. Credit: Philip Als

Speaking ahead of the expedition, Philip said:

“This has been many years in the making. I’ve spent the last three years training, getting sponsorship.

“We’re expecting very difficult conditions. But I’m looking forward to the challenge. I’m the oldest one on the trip. I’m the grandad of the crew.

“I’ve had many different reactions from people to the expedition. Some positive, some negative. I’m excited to experience what our forefathers did. Discovering new places for the first time.

“The good Lord has allowed me to do this. God has carried me this far.

“I would also like to thank my wife, Sonia Small Als, my kids, Kerry, Phillip, Jade, Christina, Christian, and my five grandkids with two more due this month. They have supported me the whole way.”

Philip is representing Barbados on this novel expedition across the Arctic. It is a weight that he carries with pride.

“I’ll be carrying my Barbados flag the whole way with me.

“We will be carrying out research along the way. Barbados is a small island in the Caribbean. We are affected by global warming. I’ll be collecting water samples for the university and capturing various sealife.

“It will be a tough challenge. We will be monitoring sleep deprivation. We are taking two hour shifts of rowing. It’s a big task. I have over 25kgs of equipment with me. I’ll be out of my element.

“God willing, I will arrive safe. There will be plenty of time for rum when I return to Barbados”, Philip said.

On behalf of Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc., we would like to wish Philip and the crew the very best of luck on their expedition and a safe arrival upon completion.

The expedition is supporting Big Blue Ocean Cleanup – – who is helping to clean up the world’s oceans.

And Siobhan’s Trust – – who is providing 4000 meals a day for civilians on the front lines of the Ukraine.

For further information please contact:

Leven Brown – 07503 073 922 (and please leave a massage and Leven will get back to you as soon as possible) or email ‘