The ORS Int. is the official adjudicator of ocean rowing records for Guinness World Records



Rescued rower tells of monster wave

Aug 8 2004
A British oarsman has spoken of the moment a rogue wave split his team's boat - and delivered a "killer blow" to hopes of breaking the transatlantic rowing record.

Times journalist Jonathan Gornall was one of four crew aboard the Pink Lady who were rescued early on Sunday after their hi-tech rowing boat was hit by a hurricane. The men were left clinging to a liferaft after waves reaching up to 60ft battered the craft and broke it in half.

Gornall, 48, from London, was in the rear cabin with watchmate John Wills, 33, of Elstead, near Godalming, Surrey, when they were plunged into water.

Speaking to BBC News 24, Gornall described the "catastrophic results" after the "rogue" wave hit: "The next thing we knew we were under water, fighting to escape the rear part of the vessel - which, on inspection afterwards when we surfaced, appeared to be completely smashed by a tremendous wave.

"I just remember hearing it coming - unlike anything we have experienced before," he said.

Fighting to escape in the dark "was not a pleasant experience", he added, and he thanked their rescuers, saying "one of the nicest sights I have seen in a long time" was the crew of the Swedish vessel lowering the ladder.

He said: "We are all very grateful to be alive. It is a shame we didn't make it, but at least we can assure ourselves it wasn't anything we did wrong.

"It was just, you know, you take on nature and you take what she delivers and on this particular occasion she delivered a killer blow."

The team, led by 40-year-old skipper Mark Stubbs, a firefighter from Poole, Dorset, and also including ex-SAS diver Pete Bray, 48, of South Wales, had been on course to break the 108-year-old Atlantic crossing record of 55 days. The men, sponsored by Pink Lady apples, were hoping to raise A£50,000 for the British Heart Foundation with their efforts.

Falmouth coastguard said the men were picked up by the Scandinavian Reefer approximately 300 miles west of the Isles of Scilly. A Coastguard spokesman said one of the rowers was suffering from hypothermia and another had slight head injuries, but they do not need urgent hospital treatment.

  1983-2001 Ocean Rowing Society

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