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Submariners finish epic row across Atlantic Ocean

20 January 2020
Four Royal Navy submariners have completed an epic challenge that saw them row across the Atlantic Ocean.

Team HMS Oardacious made the 3,000-mile journey in 36 days, six hours and 40 minutes.

Their incredible voyage saw them face 40ft waves, shark-infested waters, busy shipping routes and heavy storms.

Known as the “world’s toughest row”, the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge sees teams row from La Gomera, in the Canary Islands, to Nelson’s Harbour in Antigua.

It was an incredible challenge for a worthwhile cause and it feels great to be back on land, reunited with loved ones.

Petty Officer Dylan Woods

HMS Oardacious, made up of Lieutenant Hugo Mitchell-Heggs, Lieutenant Callum Fraser, Petty Officer Dylan Woods and Leading Engineer Technician Matt Harvey, has raised more than £100,000 for the Royal Navy and Royal Marines Charity. 

Lt Mitchell-Heggs, from Sheffield, said: “The beginning of the race was touch and go, due to the demise of our autopilot which meant we had to steer manually and took us down to three men for 24 hours.

“But determination and great team work meant we still managed to remain in the front pack.”

The team of four had a strict schedule of rowing two hours and sleeping two hours – 24 hours a day. At their lowest, the team battled blisters, sores, dehydration and extreme fatigue in 40C, burning 12,000 calories a day and losing around 20 per cent of their body weight.

With the end in sight, HMS Oardacious experienced perhaps their worst day of the challenge.

They revealed in their blog that in the middle of the night, a wave hit the 28ft rowing boat – sending Lt Fraser and PO Woods overboard. Intensive training meant the team knew what to do and the pair were quickly back in the boat, albeit PO Woods chipping his tooth and an oar snapping.

The blog said: “Without doubt, their submariner training also gave them the best possible preparation, their reaction was never to panic, but to get back on deck and make sure everyone was safe and everything was accounted for, then to get back rowing.”

The team reached the finish line over the weekend. PO Woods, from Northern Ireland, said: “It was an incredible challenge for a worthwhile cause and it feels great to be back on land, reunited with loved ones. My gran was told to prepare bangers and mash for our return so that will be next on my list.”

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