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

 


Thursday, August 12, 2004

Rescued rowers – will they go again?

 

EVEN their near-death experience at the hands of Hurricane Alex on Sunday is unlikely to stop Atlantic rowers Mark Stubbs and Jonathan Gornall from trying again.
The two veterans of Atlantic rowing bids from Los Gigantes to Barbados were among the four-man crew of the 10m rowing boat Pink Lady, crushed by a rogue 60ft wave in the dying throes of the hurricane that had followed them across the Atlantic.
They were rescued from their tiny life raft by the Danish freighter Scandinavian Reefer in a remarkable act of seamanship on the part of the ship’s captain.
On their return to land, at Foynes, County Limerick, Ireland, on Monday, the pair gave no hint of whether they would again attempt the crossing from Canada. But, such is the spirit of ocean rowers, the chances are high that they will.
Mark Stubbs, 40, skipper of the bid to set a new west-east record time of less than 54 days, has known triumph and despair in rowing across the Atlantic.

In 1997 he and his partner, Steve Isaacs, came sixth in the Atlantic Rowing Challenge race, 3,000 miles from Los Gigantes to Barbados.
The swirling remnants of Hurricane Alex, which finally crushed the Pink Lady, captured on a satellite picture by Dundee University.

In 1997 he and his partner, Steve Isaacs, came sixth in the Atlantic Rowing Challenge race, 3,000 miles from Los Gigantes to Barbados.
Then, in 2002, he attempted the notoriously difficult crossing from America to Ireland and was forced to give up after 21 days after his rudder broke.
Jonathan Gornall, 48-year-old journalist with The Times, has only known failure ... so far.
In the 2001 challenge race from Playa San Juan to Barbados he carried on alone after his partner quit one week into the voyage. He managed 1,200 miles of the journey in 45 days before being forced to give up and watch his 24ft boat being burnt mid-ocean as a danger to shipping.
After covering Mark’s 2002 west-east attempt for The Times, he joined up with the former Royal Marine to plan their latest exploit.
They recruited Peter Bary, 48, who once failed and then, in 2001,, succeeded in paddling a 27ft kayak from St John’s Newfoundland, to Ireland in 76 days – the first kayaker to make the journey.

 

The swirling remnants of Hurricane Alex, which finally crushed the Pink Lady, captured on a satellite picture by Dundee University.

And completing the team was navigator John Wills, 33, a veteran of an 18-man team that attempted to set a new speed record for the Atlantic crossing in a 10-tonne boat. Equipment failure caused the bid to be abandoned after they had traveled 1,000 miles in 15 days.
They left St John’s, Newfoundland, Canada, on June 30 and looked about to set a new record for the fastest crossing.

But all the time they were aware that they were being tracked by Hurricane Alex, pursuing them with screeching winds and huge waves.
It finally struck early on Sunday morning, “hitting us,” said Jonathan Gornall, “like a missile”, 38 days into the journey and just 300 miles from finishing.
Dumped into the freezing sea, the well.prepared team scrambled into their life raft, activated their emergency distress beacon and were fortunate to have to wait only six hours for the Scandinavian Reefer to pick them up.
By quirky coincidence the pilot of an RAF Sea King rescue helicopter tasked to rescue them was Miles Barnett, a man who understands what drives people to row oceans. He competed in last year’s Atlantic rowing race from La Gomera to Barbados.
Barnett was 80 miles and an hour’s flying time away from the Pink Lady’s life raft when he heard that they were safe and well aboard the Scandinavian Reefer and was stood down from the mission.
The Pink Lady crew were greeted by dozens of reporters on their arrival in Ireland but, despite being forthcoming about their failed endeavour, remained tight-lipped about future plans

 
If you want to cross the Atlantic Ocean, there are easier ways than west to east from the New World by rowboat. Since two Norwegians did it in 1896 from New York there have been 36 attempts – only nine successful and six resulting in death.
Right now there are three other rowers risking their lives in the attempt and fears are growing as the more or less ‘safe’ summer season draws to a close.
Frenchman Emmanuel Coindre, left Cape Cod, Massachusetts, on July 9, attempting to become the first to row the Atlantic alone four times – twice in each direction. He has twice previously rowed from Tenerife to the West Indies.
He was followed out on July 16 by Andreas Rommel, trying to become the first German to row an ocean.
Fears are growing for the safety of Frenchwoman Anne Quéméré, who left Cape Cod pn June 3, hoping to become the first woman to row the Atlantic twice, in opposite directions. At present in mid-Atlantic and being overhauled by Emmanuel Coindre, she may not finish her row before the end of September, an acknowldged dangerous time to be still at sea. Anne set a women’s record time of 56 days rowing from La Gomera to Guadelupe, finishing in February last year.

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