Rowers celebrate Atlantic Christmas
ROWING for hours on end across a vast ocean isn't most people's idea of a perfect way to spend Christmas and Hogmanay.
But for three adventurers from Edinburgh, it was a small price to pay to beat the world record for rowing across the Atlantic.
Leven Brown, Rob Loder-Symonds and Reinhardt Von Hof are more than halfway into their gruelling trek from Gran Canaria to Barbados. And, along with 11 fellow oarsmen on the La Mondiale ocean rowboat, they are on course to break the record for the voyage that was set by a French crew in 1992.
An American team called Orca set off on the same day in a rival record bid, but are currently said to be lagging well behind.
The crossing is the brainchild of 35-year-old stockbroker Mr Brown, a descendent of Christopher Columbus, who rowed across the Atlantic single-handedly two years ago.
After buying and refurbishing the boat used to set the original record, he hand-picked a crew from across the UK and Ireland – including Mr Loder-Symonds, a company director, and Mr Von Hof, a construction management student from the New Town.
They have already broken two records since setting out on December 15, including the furthest distance ever rowed during a 24-hour period – a mammoth 117-miles on January 3. Just before New Year, La Mondiale also became the first-ever ocean rowboat to travel for more than 100 miles per day for nine days in a row.
If they continue at their current speed, the team is due to arrive in Barbados well before their target date of January 19, when they will be met by family members.
Mr Brown's wife, former city milliner Yvette Jelfs, told the Evening News that she was "certain" the rowers would be successful.
She said: "It's been very hard for them, as they are only getting around four hours sleep a day and it is an exhausting challenge.
"We don't get the chance to speak to them much, as they are going flat out trying to break the record, so we're having to rely on their blogs to find out what is happening. They have a satellite phone and got to speak to their families on Christmas and New Year, but that was the only real perk for those days.
"Some of them caught a stomach bug before the trip and were quite sick at the start of the voyage but, thankfully, it has now passed and they are storming on ahead."
Mr Von Hof has dedicated the record-breaking attempt to his father, who died in December – just days after the voyage began.
In a blog from the ocean the day after hearing the news, Mr Von Hof said: "I am devastated by the news of the death of my father but I must carry on rowing with the 13 men who will be my family for the next month."
To set a new record, the crew must complete the route in less than 35 days, 8hrs and 30mins. All the crew are undertaking the challenge to raise money for charity.
LIFE ON THE OCEAN WAVE
DURING brief breaks from rowing, most of the crew members give a taste of life at sea in regular blogs. Here a few extracts:
Ray Carroll, December 25: Wow, what an evening. We careered and surfed along all night into the moonlight and sometimes cloudy skies. I can only compare the experience to Disneyland. Think of its wildest roller coaster, multiply by two and then make it unending, and you'll appreciate the mix of adrenaline and terror we feel.
Mike Tooth, December 26: You may have guessed that I wasn't really with it yesterday. I think the emotion of opening the Xmas cards and pressies (and) seeing the photos of the children made me feel decidedly down. We had a sing-song of carols whilst rowing away, though the 12 days of Xmas became quite very amusing as nobody knew what the pressies were after five gold rings!!
Leven Brown, December 26: The aches and pains are ever present and there is an increasing awareness aboard that not all of ocean rowing is physical – it is a great mental battle to keep one's self-motivated and to prevent one's self becoming burdened by individual circumstance.
Leven Brown, December 29: Spirits on board remain very high – we play music by day and shout propaganda messages at night!!
Mike Tooth, January 4: Since last blog, we have raced across the ocean and have now achieved another world record, for the furthest distance covered in a day – 117 miles.
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Thursday 20 June 2013
Temperature: 11 C to 19 C
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