Jellyfish, 30ft-high waves, sharks, flying fish and the fierce equatorial sun are just some of the things Ben Hooper will face when he attempts to Swim the Big Blue and become the first person to swim from Africa to South America. But with the announcement that Arena is to be the expedition’s official technical sponsor, at least he will now have some protection from sharks. As well as providing technical support, the swimwear brand will also be supplying a newly developed shark-deterrent wetsuit.
Swim the Big Blue patron Sir Ranulph Fiennes describes the challenge as “one of the last remaining bastions of exploration”. The expedition will take place between November 2015 and January 2016. Hooper, a father-of-one from Gloucestershire, England, plans to make a full mainland-to-mainland crossing from Dakar Harbour in Senegal to Natal in north-east Brazil, a distance of 1,731 miles (2,786km) as the crow flies.
Hooper, a former soldier and police officer, will swim up to 12 hours-a-day in two six-hour shifts. He will face 30ft-high waves, jellyfish, sharks, flying fish and the fierce equatorial sun.
Speaking yesterday, Hooper said: “I am over-the-moon about Arena’s involvement. The Arena brand develops cutting-edge technology and has an inspirational ‘water instinct’ ethos. With Arena’s help and support, we can prove that nothing is impossible.”
In a statement, Arena confirmed that it has developed a shark-deterrent wetsuit that promises to “minimise the risk of attack” during Hooper’s swim. The suit will be trialled in open water for the first time in August when Hooper swims from Rome to Sardinia as part of his training.
Giuseppe Musciacchio, Arena’s brand development manager, said: “This is an incredible and historic feat of endurance that is perfectly aligned with our ‘water instinct’ brand philosophy.
“We look forward to seeing our newly developed wetsuit in action, and to supporting Ben and the Swim the Big Blue expedition in the role of technical sponsor.”
Swim the Big Blue is raising vital funds for Maggie’s Cancer Care Centres, Addaction (drug and alcohol treatment) and SOS Children’s Villages.
To donate or to learn more about the Swim the Big Blue expedition, go to www.swimthebigblue.com
See also: Ben Hooper reaches milestone in training for Atlantic crossing