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|Matthew Boreham makes second attempt to row the Atlantic...SOLO!!|
|Mathew and Edward Boreham - Tenerife, Canary Islands Oct. 1997|
|Matthew Boreham is attempting to row the Atlantic solo from the Canaries to Barbados. Mathew and his brother Edward had to be rescued at sea during the Atlantic Challenge Fall of 1997 and he is making one more effort solo. More to come... (click image at right). (This just in: Mathew Boreham has decided to row the Atlantic another day--he is presently back in the Canaries due to a failed water maker and illness. The Society salutes his courage to come back in. There are a lot of hurricanes out in the Atlantic this September and we are glad he'll be home for the birth of his second child. Cheers to Mathew!!)|
WESTERN SUN TENERIFE
Story by Roger Diss
Reproduced with permission 17 August 98
"Never go back", is the advice all travellers and adventurers receive from
friends when they have completed their journey.
But Matthew Boreham never completed his mission to row with his brother
across the Atlantic Ocean from Los Gigantes to Barbados in last October's
momentous race organised by Chay Blyth's Challenge Business. And the
thought still rankles with him. That is why the 28 - year - old former
boat-builder, blacksmith and carpenter from Sunbury on Thames, Middlesex,
slipped quietly out of Los Gigantes harbour on Monday in a determined bid to
finish the job . alone.
Unlike last year's attempt, there was no fanfare to celebrate his departure
on the epic voyage. Only his wife, Alison, their 17-month -old daughter,
Georgina, and Alison's parents were there, along with a few friends made in
the village of Los Gigantes, to wave goodbye. And, present in all their
minds was the thought that Matthew was heading off six weeks earlier that
last year's record setting crossing and risking running into tail end of the
West Indies hurricane season - which could, all too literally, blow him out
of the water. But Matthew felt compelled to run the risk of an early start
because he needs to be home in time for the birth of his second child due on
"I'll be there on time", he assured Alison as he rowed out to sea.
"I know you will, darling," she replied.
And she turned to her parents and added; "And if he's not I won't give him a
hard time. This is something he has to get out of his system and I know
he'll do hi best" It is something Alison, a primary school teacher well
understands about her plucky husband. She saw the anger in his eyes when he
returned after last year's abortive attempt to row across the Atlantic with
his brother, Edward 33.
Hating himself for having to do it, he had sent out the call asking to be
rescued after a series of mishaps had led to the realisation that Edward was
no longer in a physical or mental state to continue.
They had managed half of the 3,000-mile distance when Matthew made the
fateful decision. And when the rescue boat, 3Com, picked them up they had
to face the fact that their 24ft dory, in which they had invested £36,000
would be set ablaze and sunk in their wake in accordance with the race rules
"I knew as soon as he returned that he would not rest until he made the
journey successfully", said Alison. "And I let it go for about a week
before telling him to go back and do it again.
"I saw the relief in his eyes when I told him I wanted him to do it."
Alison sees nothing unusual in urging her husband to take off more on the
perilous mission- all the more dangerous because this time he would be
alone, without the back-up and support of race organisers.
Throughout the six years of their married life they have been consumed with
wanderlust and sense of adventure. They each understand the other's need to
pit themselves against difficult tasks and not rest until they have been
Alison's parents, Ron and Lillian Lock, introduced her to ski-ing at the age
of four and she and Matthew took up horse-riding, sailing, canoeing, rock
climbing and abseiling together.
Four years ago they backed-packed around Europe and since then have taken
off on adventure holidays at least four times a year.
When Edward alerted Matthew to nautical adventurer Sir Chay Blyth's
challenge to pairs of rowers to race across the Atlantic they both knew he
would have to be a part of it. Together with Edward, and with the help of
both families, they set about raising the £36,000 necessary to build the
boat from a standardised kit, fit it out and equip it for the marathon
Like all the rowers they knew the physical risks - mountainous waves that
would swamp the boat and even turn them over, whales that could crush the
boat with one flip of the tail, mechanical or technological failure, their
own stamina and, perhaps worst of all, the punishing loneliness that affects
people at sea. But, like all the rowers, they were confident of the design
of the boat and their own ability to cope with emergencies and, just like
everybody else, they felt they had chosen their rowing partner well. What
they, along with many others in the race, could never know before they
started, was how well they would stand up to the psychological pressures of
being alone on that great ocean. And that turned out to be clincher After
being blown off course, away from the favourable east-west currents, they
battled t get back and, though they could not know it, were well up with the
leaders when their water purification system broke down. For a while they
tried to make do with reserves but eventually put out a call for assistance
to replace the water purifier. It was probably about that time when their
satellite-linked Argos location transmitter stopped transmitting. Matt
insists to this day that it "went on the blink", Argos technicians are
convinced that somebody on the boat turned the Argos beacon off, resulting
in the fact that the beacon continued to transmit their last position for
more than five days. Their boat, Spirit of Spelthorne, vanished from the
tracking screens. Nobody, least of all the lads, was particularly troubled.
Race organisers assumed there had been technical failure and they would
either reappear on the screen or send out an emergency call if the hit
trouble. Matt and Edward were unaware that they had become invisible and,
knowing precisely where they were through their navigational instruments,
continued to row contentedly. At least, Matthew did Edward, probably
affected by drinking contaminated water, became listless and depressed, to
the point where he would retire to the cabin and leave Matt to do the
It could not continue like that. After about a week of it, while anxiety
built among the race organisers, Matt took the decision to call it a day. He
could have continued but Edward needed help.
The call went out and 3Com picked them up-to bring them face to face with
batteries of television cameras and press who had built it up in their own
minds into a huge drama. "That was the worst part of it," says Matt, "when
everybody kept asking what it felt like to be lost at sea. We weren't lost.
We knew exactly where we were. It was just that nobody else did."
Matt finds it hard to talk about Edward's breakdown, from which he still has
not completely recovered. "We've even discussed it", he says "and that's the
best way. After all, we are brothers and I love him. I could never hold it
against him". Instead Matt got on with the business of setting out on his
lone voyage "to prove that I didn't give up". Alison's mother, Lillian, dug
deep into her credit cards to raise £15,000 for the project and other
members of the family contributed what they could. Matt contacted Daniel
Innes and Peter Lowe, who finished in 61 days, three hours and 14 minutes
but unplaced because of outside assistance, and bought their boat, The
Golden Fleece, from them for £12,500. It was hard enough to get sponsorship
last time but this time it has been virtually impossible. The best Matt has
managed is a satellite phone system so that he can at least call Alison at
home regularly. The rest, navigational aids, water purifier and supplies,
have all had to come from the family pocket. He couldn't afford the Argos
satellite tracking transmitter this time but figures he is just well off
without it. On arrival in Los Gigantes Matt met with little cooperation from
harbour authorities, who disapprove of his lone action. He has been allowed
to row himself in or out of the harbour from training sessions, instead
relying on the huge help of the Los Gigantes Dive Centre in adjusting their
diving sessions around his schedule to tow him in and out. And he received
valuable support from engineer Clive Davies in final preparation of the boat
and giving him a place to stay until his family arrived.
"It has been a little disappointing" commented Matt, "but I am terribly
grateful for all the help received and shan't be letting them down." If, or,
as Matt asserts, when he finishes, he will have a lot more to look forward
to. A freelance videomaker is making a film of the voyage for sale to TV
networks, Matt is already preparing his book on the two voyages, and much of
his time at sea will be spent polishing up his public-speaking technique for
lucrative after-dinner speaking. The boat, now re-christened Spirit of
Spelthorne II, will be put up for sale and Matt is confident of a growing
market, with more Atlantic rowing races planned for the years 2000 and 2001.
One way or another, Matt is determined to recoup the greater potion of his
costs and repay his helpers. Then he will be able to rest easy - in mind
FRONT PAGE BIT
Matthew Boreham, a failed contender in last October's 30-boat rowing race
across the Atlantic from Los Gigantes, set off on Monday in a second bid to
finish the job-single-handed.
His attempt to salvage his pride after the first failure will cost him
almost another£25,0000, on top of the £36,000 he spent the first time. And
unlike the contenders in the world's first and biggest oceanic rowing race,
he will be heading into hurricane area in a desperate bid to finish in under
60 days. The brave 28-year-old and his brother Edward had to be rescued
when they were well up with the leaders of the double-handed race to
Barbados last year.
Beset by problems they took the fateful decision to call for rescue, ending
their £36,000 dream of completing the epic journey set up by Sir Chay
Blyth's Challenge Business. Their cruel fate was to watch the 24ft dory
which had cost them so much in cash effort sinking in flames in the wake of
rescue boat 3Com. But the dream didn't end there for Matt. One week after
returning home to Middlesex, he decided to make the crossing again - alone,
unsponsored and without the backup of rescue services. Quietly, without the
fanfare of last year's organised race, he slipped out of Loss Gigantes
harbour on Monday, knowing that he was rowing into the tail-end of the West
Indies hurricane season but driven by the need to complete the voyage by 16
November, when his wife, Alison, is due to give birth to their second child.
Brothers Found!!! RACE News 13 November 1997
The search for missing rowers, Matthew and Edward Boreham from Sunbury in south west London, ended successfully today when they were sighted at 1150 this morning by the Portuguese air and sea rescue plane which left Lisbon this morning. At 1515, the news came through that they have transferred from their boat to the Challenge support yacht, 3Com.
They are both well and explained what had happened. "We lost all electrical power on Friday meaning we couldnt use our water maker. By Monday evening we felt that we could not continue and we activated our EPIRB (Emergency Position Indicating Rescue Beacon)."
According to the brothers, the instructions in the EPIRB manual said to tow the beacon behind the boat which they did using a piece of string. Unfortunately, the string broke and the beacon drifted away from the boat. This explains why the signal and 3Com were 21 miles away from the Borehams when they were located.
David Tomkinson, skipper of 3Com, said, "It has been a very long 36 hours but we are delighted to have found them."
Before they left Los Gigantes on the 12 October 1997, all teams taking part in the Port St Charles Barbados Atlantic Rowing Race had to take certain essential safety equipment on board, included in which was 150 litres of emergency water rations on their boats, which would last for 33 days.
Matthew is now phoning his wife, Alison, who is over the moon, "Its absolutely fantastic, brilliant news!"
Say Race Organiser, Sir Chay Blyth, "We have been planning this Race for over two years and have included conceivable safety precaution in the rules and regulations. However you cannot legislate for everything. We are all thrilled to bits that they have been found safe and sound."
In accordance with maritime law, their boat, Spirit of Spelthorne which cannot be towed behind 3Com, will now be destroyed by setting fire to it, the only way to guarantee that it will sink.
(The following report from the Electronic Telegraph www.telegraph.co.uk Nov 14 1997)
Brothers rescued from rowing boat in
By Barbie Dutter
Atlantic Rowing Race - Latest News
TWO brothers who were missing for nearly a week during a 3,000-mile rowing race across the Atlantic were rescued from their 24ft boat yesterday.
Matthew and Edward Boreham had spent three weeks without power, living on emergency water rations and navigating their vessel by a compass and the stars. They lost contact with the race organisers last Friday when their tracking system failed and their problems worsened when Edward, 31, became unwell with a depressive illness.
Last night the brothers said they felt lucky to be alive and were unlikely to repeat their attempt to row from Tenerife to Barbados. "We were really starting to get worried over the past few days and I have never been so glad to see the rescue boats," said Matthew, 28. "We lost our power supply on Day 12 and after that things went drastically wrong. We sent out a distress signal and that failed.
"We waited five days for someone to rescue us but no one came and so we set off a second emergency beacon. But the beacon broke from its tether during a storm and there was no way we could retrieve it. We began to drift further and further away from it."
At first light yesterday, the 33rd day of their voyage, an air-sea search was launched in response to signals from the distress beacon. They were spotted shortly before midday by a search plane, about 900 miles south of the Azores. Three hours later, they were rescued. Edward said: "It really was awful. I started suffering from a kind of depression which made me ill. It was a mental problem stemming from the fact that we had no contact with the outside world and were running out of water.
"We are both disappointed not to finish the race but I am so glad to be on the rescue boat. I think the most important thing is that we are both still alive." The brothers will now sail to Barbados on the rescue vessel, which will take two to three weeks. They will burn their wooden boat, Spirit of Spelthorne, which they built themselves.
"It will not be nice setting fire to her but that is all we can do with her now," said Edward. "We do not feel like celebrating at the moment but I am looking forward to a nice cup of tea when I get to Barbados."
Matthew added: "During the past few days, we have tried to keep each other chirpy by listening to the World Service and telling jokes. "We knew that sooner or later we would be rescued so had no real worries but we did have some very dark moments. I don't think we'd do it again in a rowing boat."
Matthew and his wife, Alison, of Sunbury, Surrey, have an eight-month-old daughter, Georgina. The couple spoke by telephone last night. Mrs Boreham, 27, said: "It feels absolutely brilliant to know they're well but also it's touched with sadness that two-and-a-half years of work to join the race is over.
"It wouldn't be fair to say that Matt shouldn't have attempted the race because he had to try to fulfil his dream. It's something he's always wanted to do. The last time I saw him, I waved goodbye from the harbour wall in Tenerife. I watched the orange light on the back of the boat until it disappeared over the horizon.
"Our daughter is going to be very proud to have a father who has done so well. I just can't wait to see him. I just can't wait for us all to be back together again." The brothers had spent more than two years training on the Thames for the race.
Their father, Tony, abandoned his work as a warehouse manager in Norwich when he heard they lost contact last Friday. "I was worried but was always very optimistic. They were very well prepared and are sensible. It's a fantastic relief but I can tell you now my sons will be totally gutted."