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



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25 November 2001

I N   T H I S   I S S U E

Win Belgium Success

A decisive third place in the ward Evans Atlantic Rowing Challenge

Mid morning today, 25 November, Bruno Luwuillon and his brother Alain rowed their boat Win Belgium across the finishing line in Port St Charles Barbados.  This secured for them third place in the race that started in Tenerife on 7 October, behind the outstanding New Zealand and Australian crews in Telecom Challenge 1 and Freedom.

They were escorted over the last few miles by one of the Ward Evans support yachts.  Several powerboats from Port St Charles cheered the crew over the last mile.  Spectators on these boats included the winning New Zealand crew and Patrick Weinrauch and Paul McCarthy the Australian crew.  They were joined by Rob Hamill the New Zealand record holder, author and gallant pugilist and, at the kind invitation of Stephen Austin of Port St Charles, several supporters of other competitors.

On hand to greet then as they stepped ashore were representatives of the race organisers Challenge Business with a bottle of champagne.   Immediately after clearing customs they were interviewed by a film crew from New Zealand who hope the interview will be screened also in Europe.

This is an outstanding achievement for these two experienced rowers, achieving third place in a strongly competitive field.

highs and lows

Little known to non ocean rowers is the complexity of surface ocean currents.  Apparently as in the atmosphere the waters can develop highs and lows which exhibit local circular movements of the surface layers.

These can be contrary to prevailing winds and to underlying subsurface currents.  Constant vigilance is required to spot when a craft has entered one of these systems.  Special and often exhausting tactics are required to extricate oneself from the grip of an adverse system which can set a craft back as much as 50 miles in a day. 

Just another challenge being faced by the contestants in the toughest ocean rowing race in the World.

Staggering achievement

First steps on shore
Although the legs provide most of the motive power for the rowers, the repetitive stroke, some 720,00 each, exercises only some of the leg muscles. Having no room to stand or walk in the boat means that other muscles used for balance deteriorate on such a long crossing. 
This was evident as the crew stepped ashore, for while their grins gave ample evidence of the delight at leaving their craft their legs were clearly less enthusiastic. With the help of a balustrade and the welcome party thy made it up the ramp from the pontoon where Win Belgium finally rested.

No more spaghetti
However it soon became apparent that the two outstanding Belgians still faced problems. With a few days left to row their provisions were reduced to spaghetti only. This gave them enough energy to row but they clearly had lost weight in the crossing. Nevertheless they pleaded "No spaghetti for a while!"
The skin on their buttocks had suffered badly and according to Bruno they were only able to overcome the pain and continue rowing thanks to artificial skin patches. Sadly they ran out with some days to go so the last patches were nearly worn away by the finish.

Sit or stand
This led him to remark that he now neither wanted to sit or stand! A dilemma soon resolved by Ports St Charles management who encouraged them to use the splendid Pool Bar where they were last seen enjoying cool drinks half-standing and half-floating in the warm fresh water.

Independence Compliment 
to Barbados

Barbados celebrates thirty-five years of independent nationhood on 30 November in a few days time. A source of much justified pride locally.
Whether knowingly or not, Alain the elder brother arrived here sporting a bushy beard. The name Barbados is commonly thought to mean the bearded one. Well done Alain - don't shave it off until Independence Day!

Unfair tactics?
For those following the race, one of the great dramas has been the exciting contest between Win Belgium and the all female New Zealand crew in Telecom Challenge 25, Stephanie Brown and Jude Ellis. The lead between them has changed more than once, neither crew being prepared to concede an inch at any stage of the race.

Women at night
The penultimate time the lead changed, the women overtook Bruno and Alain at night - a tactic which Bruno humourously questioned. He could however afford to smile since the Belgian Brothers, both nearer fifty than forty, had powered back into the lead.
Nevertheless they always felt under threat and it was not until the last few miles whilst being escorted in that they were confident of gaining third place.
They will be the first to welcome and congratulate Stephanie and Jude who are now expected a few hours later in the early morning on 26 November.

Crisis averted
Bruno and Alain's navigation had been spot on for the centre of Barbados, so they approached land at the centre of the Eastern shore. Locals consider this dangerous because prevailing West winds and coral reefs, combined with swells and local currents make this treacherous. Considerable motor power can be needed to pull craft away from danger.
On seeing the predicament of Win Belgium a boat from Port St Charles hurried around the island at first light. It stood by whilst both oarsmen then sweated their way North along the dangerous shore. Fortunately there was unseasonably little West wind and waves and they were just able to produce enough power to avoid the dangers and the potential crisis was averted at the cost of leaving the two rowers even more exhausted on their final day at sea.

Late news from crews with hundreds of miles still to go is that the weather is continuing unsettled and unseasonable. Instead of the Western Trade winds pushing them on their way some are even reporting strong winds from the SE, making progress towards Barbados impossible. Frustratingly at this stage, with over 2,000 miles rowed, some are even resorting to para-anchors to limit the speed at which they are pushed backwards toward Tenerife.


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