A DUDLEY rower who plans to take on a cross-Atlantic challenge this December is in a race against time to even make the start line.

Biology teacher Lee Felton recently returned to his hometown of Kingswinford after clocking up a gruelling one million metres on rowing machines up and down the country to raise awareness for his 10,000km charity contest.

The 30-year-old member of Dudley Rowing Club was originally part of a four man team, however, two of his fellow rowers have since dropped out, leaving Lee and his teammate Sean Lannon with an even tougher challenge ahead.

In the past 12 months the fearless duo have raised more than £70,000 of the £85,000 initial target they need to fund the trip and compete in the epic rowing trip across the Atlantic Ocean.

By taking part in what is known as ‘The World’s Toughest Race’, Lee and Sean will also be raising money for two charities - Rape Crisis England and Wales, and human trafficking charity Sport for Freedom.

However, the pair – who will race under the name Square One Atlantic – are still £14,500 short and without raising the full amount in the next month-and-a-half they will not be able to take part.

Lee said: “We’re so grateful for all the support local people and companies have given to us so far, but unfortunately we are still short of the target and without raising the full £85,000 we cannot make the start line.

“Dudley Rowing Club have been brilliant in giving us a base and somewhere to keep the boat, and even though it is a bit grim we have to make a will before we can take part, and Talbots Solicitors have helped us take one out for free.

“We hope other organisations will see how our international exposure during the race can help bring them business in exchange for supporting us financially.”

Now living in Dubai, Lee has given up his teaching job in the United Arab Emirates so he can take part in the challenge alongside his friend and Newcastle man Sean.

The mates unveiled their £40,000 boat at Netherton Reservoir yesterday (October 21), after taking until the early hours to finish sticking on the logos of their current sponsors.

Space on board the boat is so limited that there are no bathroom facilities, limited cooking ability and the sleeping compartment is smaller than a single bed.

Lee added: “More people have been into space than have made it all the way across the Atlantic, so to complete it would be a dream come true.

“Me and Sean are great mates and have been for about the last 10 years, but living – and rowing – in such a small space together will definitely put our friendship to the test.”

Dudley Rowing Club will also be supporting the lads as well as the Rape Crisis charity by holding a sponsored ‘row-a-thon’ later in the year.

The club will set up eight static rowing machines between November 29 and December 5 as they aim to row 4,828,032 metres – equivalent to the 3,000 miles that Lee and Sean will be rowing across the Atlantic.

To help the rowing club complete the challenge, members of the public can take part by calling Tina Boothroyd, club chairman, on 01384 569505.

For more information about Square One Atlantic visit www.squareoneatlantic.com or follow @square1atlantic on Twitter.