WELL over half of the 36 boats competing in the Ward Evans Atlantic Rowing Challenge have now crossed the finish line in Barbados.

One of the recent arrivals was the Canarian entry, Project Martha 2, crewed by 32-year-old lawyer Pedro Ripol and Francisco Korff, manager of the Costa Adeje golf club. They arrived in Port St Charles, Barbados last Saturday at 00.44 GMT, 20.44 Barbadian time, claiming 15th place in the race.

Organisers, The Challenge Business, paid tribute to their sportsmanship in rowing to the aid of fellow competitors, Frenchmen Olivier Villain and Benjamin Marty in La Gironde when they set off their EPIRB (Emergency Position Indicating Rescue Beacon).
After rowing for two hours Project Martha 2 reached La Gironde who were running low on water supplies.

Their supplies had already been topped up by the crew of a passing container ship so Pedro and Francisco checked that Benjamin and Olivier were all right and resumed their crossing.

La Gironde pressed on to check in at Barbados two days afterwards, to become the 21st boat to complete the crossing.
The remaining Spanish entry, Euskadi, from the Basque country, is lying sixth from last with a predicted arrival date of New Years Eve.

Bringing up the rear is Debra Veal in Troika Transatlantic, continuing alone after her husband Andrew had to give up suffering from exhaustion. She is not expected to arrive in Barbados before January 23.


COMPETITORS in the Ward Evans Atlantic Rowing Challenge from Tenerife are arriving thick and fast at Port St Charles, Barbados. And, as each weary two-man crew arrives, they will all have exciting stories to tell about their gruelling 3,000-mile row, which set out from Playa San Juan on October 7. But, with the New Zealand crew of Steve Westlake and Matt Goodman having just failed to beat the 41-day record set by fellow Kiwis Rob Hamill and Phil Stubbs in 1997, few will have so much reason for pride as one lone rower who was not even in the 36-boat race.

Theodore Rezvoy, a 33-year-old Ukrainian, set out alone from the port of San Sebastian, La Gomera, five days after the main race organised by Sir Chay Blyth's Challenge Business.But he has long ago caught up with the tail-enders and is all set to leave 10 of them in his wake as he pulls in to Port St Charles early next week. On his present daily schedule averaging between 40 and 50 miles he is expected to arrive some time on Monday. But rowing the Atlantic, challenge enough in itself, was not all that drove Teddy, or Red Ted, as his friends call him, not only for his reddish hair.

For him it was a chance to live up to his aristocratic family's adventurous tradition. And the big reward will be to become the first man from the former Soviet empire ever to row an ocean. It is a fact not lost on his countrymen, who have been avidly following his progress with daily updates via videolink on a national TV breakfast show.
Last week, with just over 300 miles to go, he even stopped rowing long enough to speak live on the phone with Ukrainian president Leonid Kouchma.

It was a conversation as ground-breaking as his own, personal bid for national glory. It was made possible only through a satellite communications system provided by the Danish company
Thrane and Thrane, one of many sponsors, including the Ukrainian International Airline which provided free travel from his home in Odessa, to his operations base in London and onward to Tenerife.

Only as recently as earlier this year such commercial sponsorship was virtually unheard of in Ukraine.

Lack of it partly scuppered the attempt of Ukrainian dentist and adventurer Viatcheslav (Slava) Kavtchenko to row the same route from Los Gigantes to Barbados in March. Totally unsponsored, he borrowed a boat from Britons Peter Hogden and Neil Hitt, who had used it, then named Hospiscare, to compete successfully in the 1997 race across the Atlantic. Slava's attempt ended in ignominious failure when he used shortwave radio to call up friends in La Gomera to render assistance for a minor problem before continuing his row.

Instead, his call for assistance set off a maritime emergency and he found himself being unwillingly winched aboard a search and rescue helicopter and dumped penniless at Reina Sofia airport. The boat was towed to San Sebastian in La Gomera under threat of being impounded. If Kavtchenko had had the benefit of a satellite communications link the simple repair could have been effected and he might have made the lone crossing.

Out of Slava's misfortune came Red Ted's chance. With the aid of considerable sponsorship he was able to refit and provision the boat, now renamed Odessa, and make his own bid. He left San Sebastian four days after a British pair, Norman Butler and Phil Scantlebury, who were making their own independent bid in an identical 23ft boat. Norman, 36, had originally intended to be part of the main race but his partner dropped out and he was prepared to row it alone until he found a last-minute replacement in Tenerife resident Phil Scantlebury. But the boat was already in San Sebastian and could not be brought to Tenerife in time to be part of the main race.

They eventually left one day after the start of the Ward Evans Challenge and, like Teddy, soon overtook some of the tailenders.
The two independent boats kept up their own neck-and-neck race until Teddy broke away to gain a 300-mile lead over his rivals.
Not all of Teddy's speed can be put down to his skill with the oars, even though he has been a keen rower since early youth. As a lone rower, needing fewer provisions, his boat is considerably lighter - a key ingredient in ocean rowing races.

But everything about his youth has fitted him for the challenge. As a child he accompanied his geologist father on expeditions in the Pamir mountains. He started horse-riding at the age of three and later took up mountaineering, martial arts and archery.
After service in the Soviet air force he turned the artistic talent he inherited from his mother to good use in computer design and became webmaster for the Ocean Rowing Society, which faithfully records and assists in ocean rowing bids around the world.
It was only a short step from there to trying it for himself.

Throughout his attempt, Teddy has been encouraged by daily phone chats with his mother, Tatiana, who is now married to Kenneth Crutchlow, director of the Ocean Rowing Society. She fed him regular information on weather and his position relative to all the other rowers, spurring him on to row his heart out for Ukraine.

Tatiana is already in Barbados, along with Teddy's wife, Ludmilla, to welcome him ashore and help him cope with his new life as a Ukrainian national hero.

Friday, December 14, 2001


1983 -  2001 Ocean Rowing Society 

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