A British explorer who conquered Everest today teamed up with an epileptic cancer survivor from Hampshire in an attempt to row one of the world's toughest oceans.

James Ketchell, the first person to row the Atlantic Ocean, climb Everest and cycle unaided around the world, set off with Scouting ambassador Ashley Wilson from Western Australia in an attempt to cross the Indian Ocean in record time.

The 4,000-mile journey has only been rowed 20 times successfully - including four times by a pair - with the fastest crossing standing at 85 days.

Having survived Hodgkin lymphoma aged 19 and suffering from epilepsy since he was seven, Mr Wilson, from Wickham, hopes his journey will prove his condition does not limit what can be achieved.

The 37-year-old said: ''Having been told I can't do things for most of my life due to my condition, I felt it's important to make a stand and prove to people that just because a person has epilepsy, it shouldn't restrict them from achieving great things.''

Mr Wilson's rowing partner knows the scale of the task ahead, having already single-handedly navigated the 3,000-mile Christopher Columbus trail across the Atlantic Ocean in 2010.

Mr Ketchell, 33, from Holloway, north London, said: ''Having rowed the Atlantic during my global triathlon I am all too aware of the challenges we face.

''I'll be monitoring Ashley's condition and thanks to the training I have had from Young Epilepsy, we are sure to cross safely and in record time.''

It will also be a chance for the pair to conduct research into mental alertness by spending their limited downtime during the journey playing Scrabble.

Their world record attempt was praised by TV presenter and Chief Scout Bear Grylls, who said: ''Ashley's and James's attempt to row the Indian Ocean is a real adventure.

''They are setting a fantastic example to young people across the UK and demonstrating that, whatever the personal challenges you face, you can be sure that Scouting will support you on your journey.''