Rowers break 114-year-old north Atlantic crossing record

| Posted in Funny News |


The exhausted mariners did enjoy a few advantages over their pioneering predecessors, who completed their 1896 journey in 55 days.

While Norwegian fishermen George Harbo and Frank Samuelsen struggled in an oak-built boat, the new record-holders were commanding a vessel made from the toughest materials and packed with sophisticated safety equipment.

The new record time was set at 43 days, 21 hours, 26 minutes and 48 seconds.

As they finally reached the safety of St Mary’s Harbour on the Scilly Isles around 4pm, the four – two Scots, an Irishman and a Faroese – reflected on the trials that would have tested the most hardy of seamen.

Skipper Leven Brown, 37, from Edinburgh, told The Sunday Telegraph of their “harum scarum” 3500-mile voyage – and their pride at coming home in one piece with the record under their belts.

“We are all really exhausted. It’s been a helter skelter trip. It was very punishing on the body. We had two capsizes and two men thrown overboard.

“We were probably the most experienced team to take on the north Atlantic thus far – in a very small boat and in quite big weather,” he said.

For “big weather”, read force ten winds and terrifying 40ft waves. “It was a hell from hell at times,” he admits, as a flotilla gathered around them to see the boat, named Artemis Investments, home.

“When there’s 12 inches between you and waves like that, there’s only going to be one winner. But we were absolutely astounded at what she taking.

“There were very big seas. We were going down the sides of massive waves, 40ft waves, doing 15 knots. You can imagine what a steep face that is. When you’re slewing around, you’re either going to capsize or just get swamped.”

Other obstacles overcome by Mr Brown and his crew – Don Lennox, 41, from Glasgow; Ray Carroll, 33, from Galway and Livar Nysted, 39, from the Faroe Islands – include a brush with a fishing vessel in heavy seas and seriously upset stomachs – possibly caused, they reckoned, by a feast of Mars bars to mark the half-way point.

Twice the boat went over, both times leaving one of the crew in the ocean, although safety harnesses prevented them from becoming detached from the boat.

Just after the incident, they wrote in their diary: “We have just had a capsize and Livar was catapulted overboard (he is tied on as we all are) and had to swim back to the boat & is getting warm again in a sleeping bag…”

But the voyage also contained plenty of highlights, including rowing alongside a pod of dolphnis and an encounter with the QM2.

“It’s been a bit harum scarum at times but we feel absolutely fantastic now. Everybody on board has performed amazingly. To come in to somewhere as beautiful as the Isles of Scilly, on a sunny day and in calm waters – it’s a wonderful feeling,” added Mr Brown.

They managed to set a new 24-hour record of 118 miles on July 14, previously held at 117 miles by Mr Brown and his team in ‘La Mondiale’ on the Trade Winds route on January 3, 2008.

Between them the four have a wealth of rowing experience, the skipper holding four world records and a number of firsts in Ocean Rowing in unsupported solo and team expeditions.

The four hope to raise thousands of pounds for charity through their rowing efforts, with money donated going to The National Autistic Society, Help for Heroes, Jigsaw and Aware.

Harbo and Samuelsen’s record-making row started on June 6, 1896, and the pair reached the Scilly Isles on August 1. They wore oil skins to protect them from the elements, and had to share a pair of mittens.

How the World Record attempts compared

The 1896 boat “Fox”

Crew: two Norwegian fishermen

Length: 18ft

Construction: Oak

Weight: 250lbs

Cooking: Small kerosene stove for cooking

Safety: Rails to help right in event of capsize, two watertight wooden flotation compartments

Navigation: Compass, sextant and copy of Nautical Almanac for navigation

Clothes: The crew wore oilskins and shared one pair of mittens

The 2010 boat “Artemis”

Crew: Two Scots, one Irishman, one Faroese

Length: 23ft

Construction: Fibre glass Kevlar sandwich

Weight: 660lbs

Cooking: A super efficient, powerful camping stove

Safety: Watertight flotation compartments, low centre of gravity for self-righting

Safety: Charts, GPS, plastic sextant and VHF

Clothes: Oil skins, small gloves and thermal tops and bottoms.