Four Oarsmen set to smash record for rowing the Atlantic

The Four Oarsmen. Picture by Hank Jansen
The Four Oarsmen. Picture by Hank Jansen

A hardy team of rowers who are competing in a gruelling race are set to break the course record.

The Four Oarsmen, aka Peter Robinson, from West Ditchburn Farm, near Eglingham, as well as George Biggar, Dicky Taylor and Stuart Watts, are currently rowing the Atlantic.

The intrepid group have braved all to tackle the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge – a 3,000 nautical miles row from La Gomera in the Canary Islands to Nelson’s Dockyard English Harbour, at Antigua and Barbuda.

And they are doing rather well! The race record stands at 35 days and 14 hours, set by team Latitude in 2016.

But as of 6am yesterday, the Oarsmen, who were in first place (both overall and in the fours), are set to complete the race on Saturday – which would see them finish in 29/30 days, depending on when they cross the line.

Of course, anything can happen, in what is described as the world’s toughest row, but it is quite incredible to think the team is on the brink of making history. And they are taking nothing for granted.

An update from the Oarsmen stated: ‘It will be more difficult approaching and finishing at Antigua in the dark. We are taking advice on the best way to approach. The predicted wind seems to be favourable. Let’s pray for a uneventful last three days please.’

According to the online race tracker, the Oarsmen were travelling at an average speed of four knots and covered 94 miles in the last 24 hours. As of 6am yesterday, they were 365 miles from the finish.

Completing the race is sure to be a welcome relief for the team, who set off mid-December.

The Oarsmen have been tackling the feat in a 25-foot boat, relying solely on their own manpower, routing and interpretation of the weather conditions, battling against ungodly sleep patterns, physical exhaustion and unpredictable seas. The Oarsmen planned to adopt a pattern of rowing for two hours and sleeping for two hours throughout the challenge.

They have had to process sea water from the ocean through a solar-powered unit, while dried ration packs and food plucked from the ocean have been on the menu.

While the team has glory in its sights, the men will also be delighted that their efforts to cross the world’s second largest ocean have helped them raise money for two charities which are close to their hearts – Mind, the mental health charity; and Spinal Research.

Dicky used to live in Northumberland, but is now based in Houston, Texas, while George and Stuart live in the London area.

To donate visit thefouroarsmen.com or to see their progress visit tinyurl.com/yaz2edxe