A SURVEYOR and a recruitment consultant are set to complete a 3,000-mile row across the Atlantic on Monday (January 27) after overcoming their rivals.
Dan Howie, of Little Smeaton, near Northallerton and his friend Will North look set to win the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge race’s pairs category, the same feat double Olympic gold medalist James Cracknell and television presenter Ben Fogle achieved in 2005.
Following 49 days at sea, during which time the pair’s 23ft carbon fibre boat Blue Steel has capsized twice, they have less than 250 miles to row before reaching English Harbour, Antigua.
The former pupil of Aysgarth School, near Bedale, said clearing a huge amount of barnacles off the boat's hull and picking up trade winds had led to a significant improvement in their speed, enabling them to extend their lead over their nearest rival to 75 miles.
He said while their two hours on, two hours off rowing routine remained challenging, combined with sore bodies, high temperatures and broken automatic steering and fresh water systems, they had been buoyed by spotting a 25ft whale beside their boat on Tuesday (January 21).
The 29-year-old added: “We are being constantly bombarded by flying fish, finding lots of dead ones on deck after a night shift. I heard a yelp from Will a couple of nights ago as he was hit square on the back of the head by one.
“It’s extremely hot now and it really saps your energy. Being in the cabin during the day is miserable and very much like a sauna, so we try and stay on deck as much as possible and put the world to rights.
“We are still hand pumping water every day in our breaks and also foot steering and are also always low on power.
“It’s satisfying to know we have pretty much foot steered the whole way, it feels as though we have done the crossing the hard way.”
Mr Howie, whose father, David, was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2009 and Mr North, whose father was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma in 2006, have raised more than £100,000 for Cancer Research, Leukaemia and Lymphoma Research, and St Anna's Children's Home and School, in Ghana.
They hope to increase the total to more than £150,000 by selling their boat and more fundraising events on their return.
To donate, visit jellyfish.co.uk/atlanticrow2013