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Rowers await final word on Atlantic race departure

September 7th 2001

CONFUSION still reigned this week over the starting point for the 2001 Ward Evans Atlantic Challenge rowing race to Barbados.
Teresa Evans, project manager in charge of the race for the organisers The Challenge Business, told one of the 34 crews lining up for the event she was "99.9 per cent sure" that it would leave from Los Gigantes, as originally planned.
But Juan Dopido, harbourmaster at the marina, still had not received the apology he wanted for The Challenge Business’s failure to make arrangements through him.
As far as he is concerned there has been no change in the availability of berths for the 34 rowing boats expected.
Rachel Anning, PR manager for The Challenge Business, said: "We are still awaiting confirmation that the boats will be able to berth at Los Gigantes and we are going to do everything we can to accommodate the needs of the harbourmaster, who has been very helpful."
A public relations company employed by sponsors Ward Evans was also this week starting to make arrangements for a party for all the rowers at the Harbour Lites Restaurant on the Los Gigantes marina, seemingly unconcerned about the controversy.
Meanwhile, boats are starting to arrive at nearby Playa San Juan, where there is room for the boats on the hard-standing and it remains a strong possibility that the race will go from there.
The first rowers to arrive were this week unconcerned where the race would start – just so long as it started.
Peter Moore who, with partner Scott Gilchrist, has Manchester United star and England captain, David Beckham, as patron of their boat Carphone Warehouse, said: "It’s out of our hands and really it doesn’t make too much difference to us, so long as it goes from somewhere."
They were expecting their boat to be delivered to Puerto Colón yesterday.
Jonathan Gornall, who is awaiting the arrival of his rowing partner, Dominic Biggs, already has his boat, Star Challenger, at Playa San Juan.
The trio had a training run in the boat from Playa San Juan last week but were refused entry to the Los Gigantes marina. The three rowers just turned round and completed their six-hour workout in Playa San Juan.
Jonathan Gornall is deputy night editor on The Times newspaper and his employers have given him six months off, with Rupert Murdoch’s Hong Kong-based Star TV network sponsoring his boat. All this leaves him free to raise money for Orbis, the Flying Eye hospital charity.
Peter and Scott are using their row to raise money for Macmillan Cancer Relief, a favourite charity of David Beckham’s.

Two lone rowers to follow behind

AS rowers begin to assemble for the Ward Evans race to Barbados, two lone rowers are laying plans to follow them out within a day or two of their start.
Norman Butler, from Swindon, had intended to be in the main race but his partner dropped out. With almost £50,000 committed to the event, Norman decided to go alone and now plans to leave from La Gomera.
"It is very upsetting to miss out on the big one," he said, "but I shall be leaving a couple of days later so as not to step on the other rowers’ toes."
He will be joined by 33-year-old Ukrainian Theodor Rezvoy, who plans to use the boat left behind in La Gomera by Russian Viatcheslav Kavtchenko when he was forcibly rescued by Tenerife coastguards from his lone attempt in April.
His failed bid sparked controversy over the wisdom of allowing lone rowers to make the Atlantic crossing and Don Lorenzo Fernández Lopéz, director of merchant shipping for the province of Tenerife, imposed strict conditions on qualifications for future attempts.
Both Norman and Theodor have been in direct discussions with Don Lorenzo and say they can prove their seamanship qualifications.
Theodor plans to arrive for preparations next Friday and Norman, whose wife, Linda, is expecting a baby this weekend, will delay his arrival until Sept 21.

Roger Diss

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