Four friends from Yorkshire have spent the past 40 days battling the elements, encountering ocean wildlife and overcoming injury to finish 5th place in the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge.
The team arrived as Nelson's Dockyard in Antigua at 3:32am GMT (23:32 local time) this morning (Monday 21st January) and were greeted by family and friends who they haven't seen since they set off in early December.
"Well, we’ve only gone and done it!!!," Team Skipper Will Quarmby said after they arrived.
"Three thousand miles of open ocean crossed with nothing but oars and Yorkshire grit."
Team Row4Victory at the finish line. (Left to right) Will Quarmby,Fraser Mowlem, Glyn Sadler and Duncan Roy. Credit Ben Duffy
"To see land then lights, then boats, then people really built our excitement, adrenaline and the feeling of achievement. The crowning glory was to see the faces of the family, friends and sponsors that were able to make it to the finish line. Faces and voices we are used to seeing and hearing in Yorkshire made it truly feel like coming home.”
Former Royal Engineer Duncan Roy, serving Chief Technician in the RAF Fraser Mowlem, former Royal Marine Glyn Sadler and civilian Will Quarmby rowed around the clock in 2 hour shifts.
In an eight-metre boat they battled the elements and other teams to finish in the top five out of 27 teams.
With just under 300 miles to go there was a tense battle for 4th, 5th and 6th place as Row4Victory had two other teams, Atlantic Discovery and Mad4Waves in their sights.
“After a strong battle with Atlantic Discovery we managed to break away from them during a low pressure system,” they said in a race blog post.
“With no wind assistance and just our Yorkshire grit to rely on we rowed relentlessly day and night.”
“Now, 38.2 NM separates us and our sights are firmly set on Mad4Waves who are 23.5 NM ahead. They are already putting on a huge push to the finish with less than 300 miles to go so the relentless race to the finish continues.”
Row4Victory finished ahead of Atlantic Discovery and just behind Mad4Waves who finished just over 8 hours ahead of them to take 4th place.
The Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge has been dubbed the 'the World’s toughest endurance race' and began at La Gomera in the Canary Islands on 12 December, with 27 teams travelling 3,000 nautical miles across the Atlantic Ocean, and spending anywhere between 35-70 days at sea.
Team Row4Victory ahead of the race.
Despite the team’s incredible finish, the crossing wasn't all plain sailing for the Yorkshire men.
Not only did they face adverse weather conditions, giant waves, sea sickness, they also encountered some technical issues with their boat.
Writing on their blog half way through the race the team said: “We encountered a couple of small technical problems in that first couple of weeks, an oar collar broke, some brand-new bearings seized overnight in the sliding seats, a row gate popped and we had an airlock in the water maker on our first run just 24 hours in. All of which were dealt with calmly and quickly and again, within minutes we were operating as normal.”
Team Row4Victory mid Atlantic.
As well as technical issues two members of the team suffered injuries.
Duncan was stung by a jellyfish while he was in the water cleaning the hull of the boat, and Fraser suffered an intense shin injury due to over-use, which resulted in him having to take a break from the oars and rest for six days.
“The largest obstacle faced by the team had been the intense shin pain suffered by Fraser,” the team said.
“The whole episode though went to show what a great team ethos there is.”
The team during the race. Credit: Row4Victory
While Duncan, Will and Glyn all put in extra hours on the oars to make sure the boat retained as much speed as possible, Fraser took over all other jobs, making sure his team mates were fed and watered, keeping the boat clean and running the navigation.
Thankfully after a few days rest and a phased return to the oars all is well, and the foursome were back to rowing in pairs, two hours on and two hours off, around the clock.
The team were not only racing to win but they are also raising money for their chosen charities The Legion and Soldier On!
“Every donation is fed back to us and we’re continually blown away by the unwavering generosity of the people who hear about what we’re doing for the Royal British Legion and Soldier On! and feel moved to contribute,” Will said.
“What we’re going through is insignificant compared to the pain, trauma and loss felt by some of the people these two incredible charities help every day of the year.”
The team are hoping to raise £100,000 and have so far have raised over £85,000. To donate to the team visit their website or their JustGiving page or text 70070 with the code ROWV59 followed by £1, £2, £3, £4, £5 or £10.