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Press Association

Atlantic Rowers Prepare to Face Cyclone

Thursday, 5 August 2004

By Dan Webber, Community Newswire

Four Britons who are aiming to set a new Atlantic rowing world record are today battening down the hatches as they prepare to face a potential cyclone after overcoming days of rough seas.

The crew of the
Pink Lady Mark Stubbs, 40, from Poole, Pete Bray, 48, from South Wales, Jonathan Gornall, 48, from London, and John Wills, 33, from Surrey, hope their epic row will raise £50,000 for the British Heart Foundation.

But the stormiest seas yet could be heading their way after a recent weather forecast revealed cyclone “Alex” could catch up with the boat this weekend.

Today, the crew’s weblog read: “The weather information causes concern for the foreseeable future. The Atlantic is now turning momentary spite into sheer vindictiveness.

“The forecast track of tropical cyclone Alex – currently a ‘minimal’ hurricane – seems to follow the plotted positions of our team, bothering them on Sunday.”

However, detailed meteorological reports suggest the cyclone may be in a weakened state by the time it catches up with the crew.

“The Pink Lady crew have the advantage of being far enough east to improve the odds that Alex may either miss them or may at least be in a weakened state,” adds the log.

Since leaving Canada the crew have rowed more than 1,617 miles and now have less than 500 to go before they reach the finishing line.

Earlier this week they were hit by a 45ft freak wave which triggered the crew’s emergency beacon while the Pink Lady was on sea anchor.

Mr Bray, a former SAS diver, noticed that the emergency beacon was flashing, and contacted Falmouth Coastguard to explain.

The emergency alarm on the Pink Lady is designed to go off manually or when submerged at depth – but the ferocity of the breaking waves caused the alarm to become wet and set off an alert.

The Pink Lady rowers are battling to cross the ‘Lizard meridian’ to finish their voyage – a line from Lizard Point in Cornwall to the Ushant lighthouse in Cape Finisterre, Brittany, the most westerly point of France.

They will then head up the Channel towards Falmouth for a landing at the National Maritime Museum.

The crew trained together for two years for the voyage in the hi-tech carbon fibre boat.

Mr Stubbs said before they left St Johns, Newfoundland, on June 30: “This ocean row is the culmination of six years of boat development and endurance training.”

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