A FORMER Chard rugby player who is set to take on a 3,000-mile Atlantic rowing challenge later this year has been picked for a scientific endurance study.

Richard ‘Tiny’ Baker and his team of extreme rowers are working with the University of Shropshire for an analysis of mature athletes.

The Chard RFC director of rugby will be taking on the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge in December, and is part of a team of four ex-military personnel who will be rowing 3,000 miles.

The team have been fundraising for eight months, and have so far funded their seafaring vessel and been hard at work training on lakes.

Mr Baker said: “We have now started our trials and training on the boat, which is up in Shropshire as that’s where the skipper is.

“The University of Shropshire is using us as guinea pigs for a study on mature athletes taking part in endurance sports and the effects it can have on our bodies.

“They then hope to use the data for developing programmes for encouraging the older population to keep fit.”

The Atlantic Mavericks will be heading from the Canary Islands to Antigua and Barbuda in 45 days.

Known as the world’s toughest row, it is a gruelling race that will take a physical and mental toll on the men.

“We want to reduce as much as possible the controllable short-term harms of such an event to prevent any lasting harm,” said John Buckley, Professor of Exercise Medicine at UCS.

“Our primary aim is to get them to the start-line with the right amount of strength, endurance and flexibility.

“During the race, it will then mainly be a battle of psychological will and team-work.”

Mr Baker added: “We had to perform maximal exertion tests on rowing and cycling machines while wired up to all sorts of cardiology and respiratory machines.

“Also the physios put us in to various weird and wonderful positions to check our flexibility.

“All of this will go towards recommending training regimes, cardio, resistance, yoga that’ll hopefully enable us to get to the other side relatively unscathed.”

The four rowers are all in their fifties and served for 20 years or more in the Army – which is why they chose to raise money for the Royal British Legion and the 353 charity.

They will also raise money for cancer charity Myeloma UK, as one of the crew members has it.