Inspire. Merriam-Webster dictionary defines this as “to make (someone) want to do something: to give (someone) an idea about what to do or create” or “to cause someone to have (a feeling or emotion)”. We are all influenced, motivated or inspired by someone or an event in some way. Some inspire generations or an individual, be it children or adults. What or who inspires you? It can be an experience or a person or even an animal. Inspiration can stem from many facets of life, in the ordinary and the extra-ordinary and we as Red Tent Media want to share what inspires us, what fires us up and what makes us want to explore. We may highlight something you have already heard of like some kind of epic mountaineering feat, a moment in history that sparked a movement, or even you the unsuspecting adventurer.

On that note, we venture into highlighting one of our first sources of inspiration (in no particular order), James Adair and Ben Stenning. You must be wondering who, what, when, why? Well, we were wondering the same thing as we sunk into our seats at the Bloor Cinema in 2014 to watch “And Then We Swam” a film by Ben Finney. Surrounded by fellow adventurers and film buffs at the Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour in Toronto, we took in many awesome and inspiring films that weekend but the two characters and real life story of Adair and Stenning’s adventure stuck with us and maybe it will stick with you too.

A quick Google search yields no results of these two adventurers on the first page, James Adair is not the Irish historian of the 1700s and Ben Stenning has nothing to do with “Stunning” Benjamin Moore paint or Ben Carson. Perhaps you have different results than we did, but these two Brits became the first pair to row across the Indian Ocean without a support boat. That’s 3500 miles (5633km). You might be thinking, damn, that is a lot of rowing, these guys must be vikings or some kind of Olympians with mega “ceps” and years of experience. Nope! At age 30 and 31, Adair and Stenning until this point had never rowed in their lives and certainly never spent a night at sea.

James Adair and Ben Stenning rowing across the Indian Ocean

Adair, James, and Ben Stenning. And Then We Swam – Image 1. Digital image. Benjamin Finney: And Then We Swam. Benjamin Finney, 28 Aug. 2013. Web. 4 Feb. 2016. <http://www.benjaminfinney.com/andthenweswam>.

These were just a couple of lads, wanting a change in their day to day lives, inspired by an article about Jim Shekhdar’s solo, unassisted, crossing of the Pacific Ocean. Madness! Preposterous! and utter stupidity!, some might say. Well, in some sense, this may be true, but the pair set out on an adventure of a lifetime together despite the naysayers, and accomplished something that not many have; true adventure. What is a true adventure? It is a remarkable experience. It is exciting, scary, usually a little risky and ridiculous, filled with highs and lows and something best shared with friends whether that is before, during or after.

James Adair and Ben Stenning rowing across the Indian Ocean

Adair, James, and Ben Stenning. And Then We Swam – Image 5. Digital image. Benjamin Finney: And Then We Swam. Benjamin Finney, 05 Nov. 2011. Web. 4 Feb. 2016. <http://www.benjaminfinney.com/andthenweswam>.

While there was a lot of suffering, a huge learning curve to overcome and of course a disaster near the end, Adair and Stenning, were two ordinary guys that dreamt of a wild idea and made it happen and that is what inspires us. We are not saying to jump ship from your day job, buy a boat and row across and ocean, risk your lives or dispose all sense and logic. We are simply saying find your inspiration, maybe with your pal and start your adventure today, because in the face of adversity, you will find a way to overcome challenges and you don’t have to row across the ocean to do this. There will always be some form of risk, there will always be something to learn and their will always be those that doubt your efforts. True adventure varies for every individual, it starts with a dream, and the adventure is the journey to see that dream come true. Perhaps it is running your first 5K or making custom fishing rods, whatever the goal, it is going to be worth it.

James Adair and Ben Stenning after 116 days rowing across the Indian Ocean

Adair, James, and Ben Stenning. And Then We Swam – Image 3. Digital image. Benjamin Finney: And Then We Swam. Benjamin Finney, 28 Aug. 2013. Web. 4 Feb. 2016. <http://www.benjaminfinney.com/andthenweswam>.

Watch their inspiring and witty story in And Then We Swam by Ben Finney and/or read the original account by James Adair himself in Rowing After the White Whale: A Crossing of the Indian Ocean by Hand.

Also get inspired by the fascinating and courageous, Roz Savage, the first woman to row solo across three oceans.

Stayed tuned for more posts on who and what inspires us at Red Tent Media or comment below on what you’d like to see next!

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