Rowers Stu Turnbull and Ed Baylis who set off across the Atlantic Ocean in search of the adventure of a lifetime were today on course to reach Antigua after a back-breaking 63 days at sea.
The pair had hoped to break a world record for the 3,000 mile crossing from the Canary Islands to Antigua and missed it by a convincing 23 days after battling savage weather, exhaustion and near-starvation.
However, as the pair began their last 24 hours at sea, they were jubilant that they achieved what they had set out to do – chalk up an amazing adventure and raise £200,000 for Cancer Research UK.
Speaking by satellite phone as they made their final approach to the Caribbean island, Ed said: “Despite all the problems and the hardships, this is just the way we would have wanted it – a real pirates adventure, not a flat-out, boring, world record crossing.”
Ed, 26, from Wimborne, Dorset, said the Atlantic adventure he and Stu had experienced, had been everything they had dreamed of and more.
“We’ve had the time of our lives and would not have missed a minute of it. Now we’re just excited to reach land, meet our friends and families – and have a few beers.”
They hope to make land late today (Weds 21) or early tomorrow.
Ed, and Stu, 26, a trainee doctor originally from Wiltshire and now living in London, had barely been in a rowing boat before their epic voyage. They left La Gomera on December 20 and hoped to reach Antigua on January 25 but they ran into problems from the start.
They made headline news last week after they ran out of food packs and their SOS was answered by “flying” Dutch rowers Gijs Koning and Wendel Rontgen who were just a few miles away. The two boats had a mid-Atlantic rendezvous on Valentine’s Day, allowing Stu and Ed to feast on the Dutch supplies. Once their bellies were full, they began rowing again only to have a near-miss with a huge container ship.
The duo has kept in touch with family and friends though daily dispatches from the boat and regular podcasts.
Ed and Stu originally planned to set sail on December 10 but were held up for ten days by severe weather. They had hoped to shave three days off the current record of 40 days, five hours and 31 minutes held by two New Zealanders. When that plan was scuppered by the weather, they set a new target to break the 49 day world record set by TV presenter Ben Fogle and Olympic champion rower James Cracknell for crossing from La Gomera to Antigua (the 40 day record was set on a row to Barbados). That ambition was also sunk by conditions in the ocean they have come to call Big Blue Bertha.
Both men have also suffered “nappy rash”- sores and blisters caused by hour after hour sitting in salty, damp, chafing conditions and have sent home several colourful pictures of their rear ends as evidence.
They freely admitted their crossinig was a “hare-brained challenge” that would push them to their physical and mental limits but they were driven by the desire to help find a cure for cancer. Both men have lost close family and friends to the illness.
Atlantic ’06 will was uncharted water in more ways than one for the boys – although friends, the pair had never spent such an intense period of time together and in a bid to ensure their on-board relationship was plain sailing, they underwent couples counselling.
For more information about the challenge and to sponsor Stu and Ed on behalf of Cancer Research UK, click here.
For media inquiries please contact:
Lynn Daly, Senior Press Officer at Cancer Research UK, on 07050 267359 or 07766 070705 / [email protected]
Jerome Demare,Marketing and PR executive for Olympus, on 020 7250 4838 / [email protected]
About Cancer Research UK
- Together with its partners and supporters, Cancer Research UK’s vision is to beat cancer.
- Cancer Research UK carries out world-class research to improve understanding of the disease and find out how to prevent, diagnose and treat different kinds of cancer.
- Cancer Research UK ensures that its findings are used to improve the lives of all cancer patients.
- Cancer Research UK helps people to understand cancer, the progress that is being made and the choices each person can make.
- Cancer Research UK works in partnership with others to achieve the greatest impact in the global fight against cancer.
For further information about Cancer Research UK’s work or to find out how to support the charity, please call 020 7009 8820 or visit our homepage.