World's Toughest Row

Ian Dean and Jooles Paillin are rowing the Atlantic in Dec 2025 to fulfil Jooles dream of rowing an Ocean, to do something amazing together, to inspire their three girls and have a go at being competitive in the mixed pairs category. They met at the Pacific Terrific Ocean rowing teams documentary screening and two years later fell for each other and got married in Dec 2021 with a mini moon in La Gomera to watch the start of the 2021 race.


Jooles is drawn to open water. It helps to release the stresses of everyday life, eases her mind and frees her soul. Her first time on a boat was when she was just five days old and started living on boats at the age of 10. Both her parents still live on the water, just a stroll, or gentle swim or paddle away from Jooles’ own home by the river Soar. Through the kitchen window she can see her self-built pontoon and double scull boat with a coxswain seat the perfect size for her youngest daughter.

As a child Jooles explored the inland waterways of Britain and Holland with her parents, learnt to sail, played the piano accordion and threw herself into gaining all three Duke of Edinburgh awards. Her rowing career began in 2007 and she excelled quickly and worked hard to achieve success and gain course records at the Boston Marathon in 2012 and 2017 and also in the 100km Concept 2 Heavyweight Women's Team event , alongside having her two children. Jooles has clocked up over forty regatta and head race wins despite being technically coxswain sized. Most recently winning at the British Rowing Master’s Championships in Strathclyde in 2019 with Derwent Rowing Club, who she was invited to row with, before turning her attention to endurance training. She has battled against prejudice and cynicism for not fitting the rowing mould and intends to prove that size doesn’t matter against the Atlantic Ocean. Masters...more detail about rowing achievements?

Jooles has also participated in various coastal rowing races, notably the Orestone challenge 40km, the 30Km Vogalonga in Venice and the prestigious Queen's Diamond Jubilee Pageant on the Thames in 2012. Jooles has also completed many full marathons on the Concept2 and even more half marathons over the years most notably completing 30 half marathons in 45 days in 2019 and 2021 as part of the ‘Crazy Bear Challenge’. Other rowing adventures include coastal rowing in Naples & Marseilles and inland adventures in Holland and Austria.

With her first child still a toddler, Jooles became one of three founding members of the Devil’s Elbow Rowing Club and led their successful fundraising campaign to build a new boathouse for both the rowing club and Trent Valley Sailing Club.

Her resolve to prove that she can fulfil her rowing dreams for herself and her supporters has kept her going through the loss of her partner and her business in 2020. These challenges, along with those of a single parent, and a promise to her partner in his last days that she would not give up her dream, have created a resilience and self belief in her that anything is possible. The thought of an Atlantic crossing has been a constant light in her life.

Jooles is a powerhouse of rowing knowledge and experience, a fireball of ambition and determination with a heart full of passion for the sea, for rowing and for anyone in her tribe or those supporting her on her journey through life. She is a constant source of motivation for others too, whether it’s making small daily changes to their fitness or business, or getting people to dream big by inspiring them to row an ocean themselves or to cycle around Britain. Her resoluteness and desire to bring positive changes to the world is tangible. She really makes a difference to the people who meet her. Even her kids write about her as an ‘inspirational mum’, and she’s not even rowed the Atlantic yet!

But she will.

Jooles sea survival trainingIan Dean Theatre headshotJooles weight trainingJooles GroovX InstructorIan Doing Weights


53 and Dad to an often embarrassed by her dad, 14 year old girl.

Middle child to parents who met thanks to the sea… Ian’s dad was British Navy and his mum was a SWAN (Singapore Women's Auxiliary Navy) He’s not ashamed of this very tenuous link.

Like most kids brought up in the countryside Ian spent summers in the local rivers, lakes and old quarries (not something we recommend now but it was ok back then).

Ian has a varied work history that led to him work in schools in 2008 and it’s where he found his vocation. Ex-pupils and fellow staff members describe him as confident, spontaneous, fun, happy and chatty. Some of these characteristics will definitely help when tackling the ocean row. Being able to turn his hand to various practical tasks is a skill that will certainly be handy during the crossing.

Away from work he’s often found “treading the boards” of local theatres in all manner of musical theatre productions and has been doing so for 25 years. It’s on these stages that you may get a glimpse of those legendary snake hips. Very useful during his Salsa lessons and the five years he taught Zumba.

Alongside the singing and dancing Ian fills his time with a wide range of activities such as little walks, anything from 5 to 70km (that was 70km in 15 hour with minimal breaks), kayaking, cycling and Obstacle Course Races. It was in training for his first OCR run that Ian started climbing and found particular enjoyment when he was bouldering. More recently (since meeting Jooles) he’s started open water swimming and rowing. Ian likes to say he's not competitive but the fourth time rowing was in mini-races against more experienced rowers.

As I’m sure you can imagine a lot of Ian’s time is now taken up preparing for World's Toughest Row - Atlantic 2025 with weight training, yoga and a variety of online classes to improve his levels of fitness… and rowing of course. Perks of having a PT and rowing coach as your life partner…..or is it ?

Ian got through the first 49 years of his life happily viewing the ocean from a beach, a pleasure cruiser or at 30,000 ft looking down from the window of a plane but then a close friend took part in ‘The Great Pacific Race’ 2018 Ocean Rowing Race from California to Hawaii and this is where his journey with Jooles began when they first met at the documentary screening for Pacific Terrific. This is also when the dream of rowing an ocean first took seed and he also after 10 minutes of talking to Jooles named her the ‘next Mrs Dean’!!! Not that she knew that until very recently. He asked himself repeatedly… Could I do it? Could I take on a challenge that would inspire others to achieve something amazing? Embark on an adventure that his teenage daughter might feel proud enough to say to others “My dad did that!” Described by friends as thoughtful, caring, happy, energetic and barmy. He will be the one working at keeping their spirits up when they're on that 3,000 mile mad rowing adventure across the Atlantic.

"If you want to lift yourself up, lift up someone else."

– Booker T. Washington