3,000-mile race rowers battle back after being hit by mid-Atlantic storm

Darlington and Stockton Times: ROUGH CROSSING: Dan Howie, rowing, and Will North crossing the Atlantic in their 23ft boat.  Picture: Ben Duffy/Getty Images ROUGH CROSSING: Dan Howie, rowing, and Will North crossing the Atlantic in their 23ft boat. Picture: Ben Duffy/Getty Images

A SURVEYOR aiming to break the record for the fastest Atlantic crossing in a rowing boat is battling to make up time after being blasted in a three-day storm.

Dan Howie, of Little Smeaton, near Northallerton, North Yorkshire, and fellow oarsman Will North, were forced to shelter inside their tiny cabin for 72 hours while buffeted by 35ft waves five days into the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge 3,000-mile race from La Gomera in the Canary Islands to Antigua.

The storm, which saw the British crew of a five-man rival boat airlifted after their vessel began taking on water, forced Mr Howie and Mr North to deploy their off-shore anchor - but they were thrown off-course and deprived of rest as they were thrown around their tiny cabin.

The pair, who are aiming to raise £200,000 for Cancer Research, Leukaemia and Lymphoma Research, and St Anna's Children's Home and School, in Ghana, said they spent the time inside the cabin reviewing their route, but were unable to eat hot food as they were unable to cook inside.

Mr Howie, 28, a former pupil of Aysgarth School, near Bedale, said: “The first 24 hours went well and I think at one point we were leading the race.

“It’s been a very tough start to the race as we have been battling southerly winds trying to push us back to La Gomera.

“Morale is good though and it gives us great comfort to know that every stroke of the oars brings us that little bit closer to Antigua.”

Yesterday (Friday, December 13), race organisers said the pair’s boat, which had dropped to seventh place during the storm, had overtaken two boats as they progressed 37 nautical miles, while the team ahead of them had only covered 12 nautical miles.

A team spokeswoman said she expected the pair to continue picking up speed ahead of reaching the trade winds this weekend, but said the storm had been an exhausting and mentally tough experience for them.

She said: “Everyone lost their positions, there is an element of all the teams going round in circles.

“Dan and Will are in good spirits as they are now doing what they set out to do and are working to repair the runner seat and their auto pilot, which if they can’t fix will mean they have to steer with their feet.”

To donate, visit jellyfish.co. uk/atlanticrow2013

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