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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 27 March 2019

Dubai rowers edge closer to transatlantic record

Four man Row4Ocean team aim to complete the crossing from West Africa to South America in just 27 days

Patrick Bol, Dutch skipper of the Row4ocean rowing trimaran, holds a Senegalese flag as the Row4Ocean crew depart West Africa on their transatlantic challenge. AFP
Patrick Bol, Dutch skipper of the Row4ocean rowing trimaran, holds a Senegalese flag as the Row4Ocean crew depart West Africa on their transatlantic challenge. AFP

A transatlantic rowing team hoping to smash four world records have less than 1,600km to go as they edge closer to completing their epic challenge.

The four-man crew from Dubai are on day 23 of their 27-day adventure, but it has not been a crossing free of drama.

More than a thousand dolphins provided an impressive sideshow as the team deployed a sea anchor for the first time last week to attend to urgent repairs to a damaged rudder.

Initial repairs proved ineffective, causing the Dh1.8 million rowing boat, named Year of Zayed, to steer erratically down the face of giant waves.

The team was forced to anchor again to replace the damaged rudder blade before they could continue on their way.

Despite those hold-ups – the Row4Ocean crew are on course to complete their 4,250km challenge within 27-days that would set a new world record for the fastest transatlantic crossing.

Progress of the four-man team of Britons Andrew Ruinoff, Matt Wilds and Lewis Knollman and Dutchman Patrick Bol is being recorded by Nick Leggatt, who is on board a trailing vessel.

“The current has started to turn in their favour and the course alteration means the team has a much more favourable angle to the waves,” he said.

“We have started to get a few squalls, nothing major but it is the first rain we have seen since leaving Dakar.

“It is signs of a change in the weather to come, and it looks favourable.

“We are still over 900 miles (1,448km) from the finish but we are already feeling the effect of the Guyana Current, which should help the team post good 24 hour runs.”

Rowers are alternating their efforts, working continuously to eat up more than 160km a day.

They aim to become the fastest team to make the crossing from West Africa to South America, arriving in Suriname less than four weeks after setting off from Senegal.

Other records in their sights include the first team to row a multi-hull boat from Senegal to a northern port on South America.

The crew were in good shape at the half-way mark, although the comfort of eating regular hot meals has been lost after the boat’s stove was damaged.

Mr Knollman said the crew was relieved to see their remaining target reduced to less than 1,000 miles (1,600km).

“Psychologically seeing triple digits will be a bit more satisfying,” said Mr Knollman.

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“Everyone has made the halfway mark in pretty good shape, we have battle scars on our bodies but everyone is dealing with it pretty well.

“We are a little bit disappointed with the boat speed, but when we are up against the wind and the current there is nothing you can do; we are praying to the sea gods.”

The team aims to draw attention to the damage inflicted by single-use plastic to the planet's oceans.

Their progress can be followed at www.facebook.com/row4ocean.

Updated: January 5, 2019 12:31 PM

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