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Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 17 January 2019

Dubai rowers 'gutted' as transatlantic challenge ends in failure

Crippling damage to Dh1.8 million boat's rudder forces four-man team to abandon world record bid

An exhausted Patrick Bol on board the ‘Year of Zayed’ trimaran. The rower said the team succeeded in highlighting plastic pollution in the oceans. Courtesy: Row4Ocean
An exhausted Patrick Bol on board the ‘Year of Zayed’ trimaran. The rower said the team succeeded in highlighting plastic pollution in the oceans. Courtesy: Row4Ocean

Four rowers trying to become the first crew to cross the Atlantic in less than four weeks failed in their world record attempt after their craft suffered mechanical failures.

The crew, led by Dutchman Patrick Bol, got within 1,200 kilometres of Surinam in South America before abandoning their charge to the finish line on Sunday.

Problems with the rudder that still allowed them to stay on course first arose on New Year’s Day. Repairs were followed by a second failure 24 hours later.

Stopping to repair the damage cost the team valuable time in their race to South America.

But despite those setbacks, the Row4Ocean support crew were confident that prevailing winds and a favourable current made the team’s world record attempt a realistic target.

Then the rudder failed for a third time, after they travelled 2,880km.

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

“We are safe but we are gutted,” said Mr Bol from on board the Year of Zayed.

The team now have a support boat with them and hope to guide the craft into dock in South America, but not in record time.

“There is no space for all four of us but nobody wanted to leave the boat regardless of the hardship,” Mr Bol said. “We know each other so well now and we will have days to just look at each other, but I am sure the stories told will be memorable.”

The Dubai team of Mr Bol and Britons Lewis Knollman, Andrew Ruinoff and Matt Wilds set off from Senegal on December 14 with high hopes of breaking four world records.

One of these was to become the fastest rowing team to complete the 3,709km ocean crossing from West Africa to South America.

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Read more:

Dubai rowers edge closer to transatlantic record

Dubai rowers set off on four week Transatlantic challenge

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Dubai Ports funded much of the trip, including the Dh1.8 million trimaran.

The team wanted to draw attention to the problem of plastic in the planet’s oceans and the damage it is doing to the environment and marine life.

Mr Bol said his crewmates were in good spirits, and were looking forward to heading home after they enjoy their unique surroundings for a few more days.

“We have enough food on board and we have plenty of time to do some fishing,” he said through the boat’s satellite phone.

“I would like to thank all of our sponsors and supporters. After so much time and effort the project failed because of a small piece of metal.

“It is a pity but we wanted to put out the important message about plastic pollution, and we have done that. We were so close. Sometimes you learn more from failure than success.”

To find out more about the project, visit row4ocean.com.

Updated: January 8, 2019 05:14 PM

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