16 crews of fours, pairs and single rowers set off on December 4th at 1pm from La Gomera to take part in the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge – the No.1 Ocean Endurance Event. Although well aware the weather was not going to be on their side, there are now 14 crews remaining in the Atlantic Ocean on their parachute anchor waiting for a reprieve and better conditions.
The Atlantic Polo Team started off leading the fours and at one point leading the entire fleet in a strong position heading South. By the second day high winds and big swells have seen the tiny 7 meter by 2 meter rowing boats pushed off course due to the weather and one team of three - Atlantic Trio turning back due to technical troubles. The three are safe, however have decided to retire from the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge.
As early as day 3 saw the entire fleet needing to deploy their parachute anchors due to high winds and by day 4 it has been confirmed that the bad weather cannot be avoided for the entire fleet with winds of up to 30knots and choppy swell reaching 3 meters. Day 5 has seen the entire fleet and The Atlantic Polo Team deploy the parachute anchor again only five days into the 55-65 day endurance race and sit and wait it out in a cabin no larger than a shoe box for better weather from Wednesday or Thursday. Drift rates are high and conditions unpleasant which will see moral reach an all time low very early into the race combined with sleep deprivation, agraphobia and claustrophobia.
On the 9th of December it has been confirmed that a team of five called Atlantic Splash had to be rescued due to their boat starting to take on water in the aft compartments. The team members are safe and well.
The Atlantic Polo Team remain in second position out of the class of fours but are currently battling against the elements and the psychological and physical consequences of being at the mercy of the Atlantic Ocean in rough seas. They commented:
“We could write a million words to describe what has happened in the short time at sea so far. Everyone is suffering sea sickness, blisters and general freak-outs. We have a gale force which is big coming in soon and are very nervous. We have seen dolphins, loads of fish and enough naked flesh to last a life time. We don’t stop rowing and it is laborious to say the least as we basically row, sleep, row sleep – 3 hours on 3 hours off in pairs. But we unite and lift each other and think this will be our primary reason for finishing this.”
The Atlantic Polo Team are more accustomed to travelling around the world playing polo than they are rowing 3,000 miles across the Atlantic in just a 7 meter by 2 meter rowing boat, which is a sporting challenge that will put them to their biggest test.
Team member Henry Brett was the only English player of his generation to reach a handicap of 8 goals beating all records in polo and has Captained England around the world winning every major tournament and playing for Royalty. He started this race seeking another record breaking opportunity and before setting off commented:
“This is a huge challenge and the biggest most frightening thing we will have ever done. As professional sportsmen we were looking for something that would take us out of our comfort zones and there is no doubt that the Atlantic Ocean will put us to the test both mentally and physically. We hope that we can raise much more awareness of the work the Brooke does and that our challenge will help fund future projects and enable The Brooke to reach many more working equines around the world.”
More people have been to space than they have rowed the Atlantic and the team will be rowing to raise money also for children in both the UK and disadvantaged countries on behalf of Hilton in the Community Foundation and Right To Play, enabling greater access to sport and education for disadvantaged children around the world.
The Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge only takes place every two years where more people have been into space, or climbed Everest than they have rowed the Atlantic.
Teams will row more than 3,000 nautical miles across the world's second largest ocean, heading west from San Sebastian in La Gomera to Nelson's Dockyard English Harbour, Antigua. Once they leave the safety of the harbour they are on their own in the vast ocean against the mercy of the elements.
No outside support is permitted once the race begins and rowers will be disqualified in the event of requiring support. No boat shall receive any extra supplies during the race, including food, water or equipment.
Lucy Northmore, 07921887296
About Henry Brett
Henry (38) is the only English player of his generation to have reached a handicap of 8 goals in the UK. He has played for his country for over a decade and won every major tournament in England and overseas. Henry comes from Oxford and runs a young horse programme as well as continues to play professionally around the world.
About Bobby Dundas
Bobby (29) is the Captain of the four man Atlantic Polo Team boat, based in Gloucestershire Bobby has played for England in the European Championships in Rome, the World Cup in Mexico, and England tours to Pakistan and Zimbabwe. His charity work started in Argentina by volunteering at an orphanage which he continues to visit regularly. In 2012 Bobby set up 'Monty's Polo for Justice‘ to help raise funds for Alexander Monson who fell victim to police brutality in Kenya.
About James Glasson
James (39) is a professional polo player and Business Director based in Sussex. James is the adventurer of the team and an avid sailor having already sailed across the Atlantic in 2011, climbed numerous Mountains and also reached the summit of Aconcagua – the highest mountain in the America’s. James is ready for a new challenge and to show off his navigation skills. He has played around the world in high goal polo and for England.
An avid sailor, he is the most experienced and sailed across the Atlantic in 2012.
About Fergus Scholes
Fergus Scholes (30) is an amateur polo player and former stockbroker. Fergus held the title of National School’s Champion, rowing at Henley for three years and was the Schools' Head of River Race champion amongst other achievements and is looking forward to picking up the oars again for this coveted challenge.