Brundall captain and Attleborough kayaks to form support team in Atlantic swim world record attempt

Ben Hooper, front, who is hoping to be the first person to swim the Atlantic, at Brundall to meet wi

Ben Hooper, front, who is hoping to be the first person to swim the Atlantic, at Brundall to meet with the skipper of his support boat, Chris Gonco, 2nd left, and also James Dennis, right, and Steve Childs, left, of Tootega Kayaks based in Attleborough, with support kayaks for the trip. With them are team members, Andy Thurgood, 1st mate, and Lisa Powell, observer. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2015

He is a Norfolk skipper who has spent years cruising the Broads and sailing the high seas.

Skipper Chris Gonco, right, on the catamaran support boat Wind Cat at Brundall, which his father, Jo

Skipper Chris Gonco, right, on the catamaran support boat Wind Cat at Brundall, which his father, John, left, built; the support boat for Ben Hooper's bid to be the first person to swim the Atlantic. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2015

But Chris Gonco, from Brundall, will face his most daunting expedition next spring when his catamaran, hand-made by his father, becomes the support boat during a world record attempt to swim the Atlantic Ocean.

The Wind Cat will stock food and drink rations and medical kit as Ben Hooper, from Cheltenham, tries to become to first person to swim every mile of the 2,000 stretch from Dakar in Senegal to Natal in Brazil.

Mr Gonco will sail from Norfolk down to the Canaries along to the coast of West Africa, when he will take the Swim the Big Blue team across the Atlantic to the finishing line.

The 34-year-old said: 'Ben phoned up my dad to say he was looking for a boat and we were put in touch - I've been sailing for years, I'm always on boats in my spare time, and thought it would be great to help achieve this unique goal.'

Moreover, kayaks made in Attleborough will also guard the 37-year-old lone swimmer from the interest of hungry sharks during the four-month voyage.

The two Tootega kayaks will carry electronic shark shields, a device which emits an electrical field causing sharks to flee the area, as well as a chemical protection.

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Mr Gonco admitted the combination of sharks, storms and strong currents made for a daunting prospect, but said: 'It's one of those things where you have to take the opportunities in life.

'I'd have kicked myself if i didn't do it.'

Mr Hooper, who hopes to arrive on Brazilian soil in time for the 2016 Olympics, was born premature and suffered collapsed lungs, which saw him brought back to life in the intensive care unit. When he was five, he almost drowned in a swimming pool in Belgium.

But despite the setbacks, he aims to swim to least 17 miles a day, in two swim sessions taking up to 12 hours.

He said: 'During the four months I anticipate the swim will take, I shall be tackling physical, mental and emotional challenges, enduring sharks and other predators, storms, currents, heat and discomfort.'

Steve Childs and James Dennis, of Tootega, said: 'Not only do we share Ben's driven determination to break new boundaries and to succeed, but the research side of the expedition is also of great importance to us.

'Ultimately we make kayaks to get out and enjoy the natural world around us and we take our responsibility to produce the most sustainable products very seriously.'

Mr Hooper hopes to raise £1m for County Community Projects, Maggie's, Addaction and SOS Children's Villages.

The swim will be watched by Guinness World Record assessors.

For more information about the swim visit www.bensmiles.co.uk

Do you know someone attempting to break a world record? Email lauren.cope@archant.co.uk