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Royal Navy rowing team make historic Atlantic crossing

Royal Navy rowing team make historic Atlantic crossing
15 February 2023
A Royal Navy team became the fastest military team in history to row across the Atlantic: 35 day 17hours 19 minutes.

The team – Lt Cdr Callum Fraser, Petty Officer Jon Norfolk, Lt Cdr Hugo Mitchell-Heggs and Lt Cdr Tom Hutchinson - beat their own previous record of 37 days for the 3,000-mile crossing.

Two of the crew – Lt Cdrs Fraser and Mitchell-Heggs, also became part of a very small number of people in history to have now rowed an ocean twice. Lt Cdr Mitchell-Heggs, who was born in France, also broke the French record during the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge.

The team, who finished their challenge in Antigua, raised more than £50,000 for the RNRMC, meaning they are well on target to raise £1m by 2025.

Lt Cdr Hutchinson said: "You're humbled by the sheer size of the wave and that you're very insignificant, if it wants to it can just crash down on the boat and throw you across the ocean and there's nothing you can do about it. We had that for the best part of a week at one point, the weather was like that all day and all night - and there were very strong winds."

When the team arrived in English Harbour in Antigua, Lt Cdr Hutchinson was so tired that he says he "didn't feel that emotional" when the lights of Antigua started twinkling in the distance but that all changed when the team arrived on dry land to see their families for the first time in 2023.

He added: "As soon as you turn the corner to enter English Harbour there's a fort on the headland where all family and friends gather, and you can just hear them all screaming as they see the lights of the boat. There's this overwhelming rush of emotion through your body thinking 'I am finally here'!"

Originally undertaken by a team of Royal Navy submariners in 2019, it was intended as a one-off event to raise money for the Royal Navy and Royal Marines Charity. However, after the Covid pandemic highlighted isolation and mental health challenges, a different team of four submariners will take part in the challenge each year

Dawn Ingram, RNRMC Director of Fundraising, said: "What HMS Oardacious have achieved is incredible. The RNRMC are so grateful and proud; their continued efforts in fundraising for the wellbeing and mental health of the Submarine community is making a real difference. A heartfelt thank you to all those who are part of the team and journey."

Team Oardacious are now preparing  to row across the Atlantic again in December 2023 in their new state of the art Eco boat – made of recycled materials and using the campaign to become positive ambassadors for ocean sustainability (lots of plastic waste/polystyrene seen on the ocean).

There is also an all women’s team booked into row across the Atlantic in December 2024 – they include submariners and one of the only RN Women to ever get her All Arms green lid.

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