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



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27 November 2001

I N   T H I S   I S S U E



Three boats finish within eight hours – after forty-nine days at sea

Answer?                   A close finish.

Stephanie Brown and Jude Ellis rowed their Telecom Challenge 25 to the Ward Evans Atlantic Rowing Challenge 2001 finishing pontoon in Port St Charles, Barbados just after mid-day local time on Monday 26 November.  Being in remarkable condition given their achievement, and surviving the enthusiastic welcome from fellow antipodean, they were by sunset enjoying the party provided by Thomas Herbert the manager of the magnificent Port St Charles development.  



Increasingly romours abounded:

The first British boat had rounded the North point and was a few miles away.

They would not make port until morning.

They were being caught by the second British boat.

One or other boat’s arrival was imminent.

For parents and supporters, waiting at the breakwater excitement was intense as darkness enveloped the ocean and eyes strained through the dark. 

Together or not?

Andrew Chapple and Ian Anderson rowed separately in shifts right across the Atlantic.  Having passed the Eastern limit of Barbados and rounded the Northern point they decided to row together over the last six miles.

Only then did they discover that Andrew’s short strokes forced on him by his sore hands could not keep time with Ian’s long strokes required to compensate for his sore back.  They quickly reverted to single person rowing.  Observers noted they were nevertheless equally effective in driving despite the vastly differing techniques.

Loss or Gain
Thanks to yet another helpful resident of Port St Charles several of the crews on Monday evening were able to weigh themselves to measure losses and gains in weight.  

Without divulging individual figures your correspondent can report that some had lost as much as 8 kilograms, admittedly from a starting weight above normal due to supplementary diets before the start.

As interesting was the speed at which weight was recovered.  One crew member who had lost 4 kilograms recovered half that in just 36 hours.  Another competitor claimed to have lost 4 kilograms and in eight days since finishing to have gained 5 making him heavier now than when he started on 7 October.

Whatever next
With nearly thirty boats still to complete the crossing, the organizers and supporters are enjoying a brief respite in Barbados following all the recent excitement.  As of today Bruxelles has 233 miles to go and should finish in seventh place.  Currently sixty miles further back are the Army pair of Rory Shannon and Alex Wilson in Atlantic Warrior, doing well for two previous non-oarsmen.  They are hard pressed however by Yantu, American Star, UniS Voyager and Team Manpower all of whom could finish in the top ten.  The position of Esprit PME has not been updated since 23 November, four days ago.  They too are probably in close contention.

The results over the next week will depend on local weather as much as on technique, stamina and good fortune.  Our thoughts are with these brave crews and we look forward to welcoming them all at the end of successful crossings in the world’s toughest rowing race.

Fresh fish soup
Most crews finishing have reported seeing numerous flying fish.  Most of these skim the surface, but many instances are reported of flying fish once airborne gaining impressive height using their wings.  Instances are told of fish flying well above tall crews even when the crew has been standing and heights above water of 20 feet or more have been seen.

These fish do of course sometimes end up inside the boats.   Having to clear flying fish from the deck in the mornings became a regular routine during parts of the crossing.  More painful has been the odd literal slap in the face with a wet fish, more appreciated was the attempt by one flying fish to enliven Win Belgium’s monotonous fare by flying straight into Alain Lewuillon’s hot soup.   Unfortunately this fish lost his nerve once in the pan.  His desperate attempts to return to the ocean and face the merciless tuna rather than Alain’s hunger led to most of the prepared soup being thrown out of the pan by the fish’s frantically beating wings.

Alain will have to pay for his first flying fish soup after all in one of Barbados’s outstanding fish restaurants.


Meanwhile at the party presentations to the Win Belgium and Telecom Challenge 25 crews proceeded.  Suddenly a yellow ocean rowing boat was emerged from the darkness being brought to the party venue from the finish across the harbour.  Since both from the Channel Islands and Bright Spark were yellow this maintained suspense.  Closer examination, confirmed by the two exhausted rowers being helped towards the part by delighted family and friends, established that it was Andrew Chapple and Ian Anderson who had after 49 days at sea arrived a mere 492 minutes behind the New Zealand boat.

Happiness turned into delight when a few minutes later a second yellow boat was similarly ferried into view.  Here suddenly were Will Mason and Tim Thurnham just 70 minutes from being the first British boat.  They had been gaining on for days.  Some reckoned that had the race lasted another six hours positions would have been reversed – but judging by the focused determination of the Channel Islanders that remains a matter of opinion only.

So, from the field of thirty-six competitors, three boats arrived within eight hours; fourth, fifth and sixth respectively.  A tribute to the crews’ competitive spirit as well of course to their amazing strengths of physique and character.  As they tucked into hamburgers, received the attention of their families and friends and eased their aching limbs, we mere well-wishers stood in awe of them and their achievement.

Missing trade winds

All three crews reported having to fight for every mile over the last few days.  The winds and waves were unhelpful and the weather was sunny and hot.  They reported having to dig deep in their reserves of strength and stamina, the British teams especially because they were in such close competitive positions.


Whilst all seems comradeship and mutual support amongst finishers, the continuing interest in competitive ocean rowing is evident.  Opportunity has been taken to trial row each other’s boats.  More refined examination has included videod commentaries on rig set-ups and rowing techniques.   All in the interests of continuous improvement, but how widely these lessons are disseminated remains to be seen.

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