(By Jon Amtrup) On 8th February 2011 Ocean rowing boat Sara G Skippered by Britt Matt Craughwell pulled into the record books as they got in to Port St. Charles, Barbados. They not only set a new world record with their Atlantic speed crossing, but also rowed more consecutive days over 100+ miles than any other boat in history.
Matt Craughwell and his crew of 5 oarsmen, Fiann Paul (Iceland), Tomas Cremona (Malta), Adam Burke (Ireland), Rob Byrne (Ireland), and Dr Graham Carlin (England), set off from the fishing post of Tarfaya, Morocco on the West African coast on the 5th January on a mission to become the fastest crew ever to row across the Atlantic Ocean.
When the passed the 100+ miles mark for the 12 days in a row they where on to something big. And when they reached Barbados they took 10 hours 36 minutes off the old record set by Team Hallin the day before.
The new record time for the mid-Atlantic route to beat (difference in departure place taken in to account) is 33 days 21 hours and 46 minutes. Britannia 3, which left the Canaries 9 days ago, has to beat that to get in to the record books.
It has not all been plain sailing, or rather rowing, for the international crew on board Sara G. Life on board an 11m long 1.8m wide ocean rowing boat is far from luxurious, and with a grueling routine requiring the men to row for 12 hours each day. It has taken it toll on them both mentally and physically.
During the early stages of the 3,170 mile voyage several of the crew experienced sea sickness, this only adds to the fatigue as they can only sleep for a maximum of 2 hours at a time. The constant shift pattern of 2 hours at the oars and 2 hours of rest must be strictly maintained to ensure the boat stays at top speed and on course for a record.
Not only is the body drained from lack of sleep it is also constantly hungry as the men burn incredible amounts of calories, up to 8,000 per day while only consuming an average of 5,000. This deficit results in drastic weight loss and each of the men has lost 20-25% of their body weight in just over a month a sea.
And just when you think this challenge cannot get any tougher things start to go wrong. A broken center board less than half way across could have seriously jeopardized the record attempt, the center board is key to the stability of the craft, but thanks to some ingenuity and brute force the crew managed to rig a make shift center board which thankfully held out for the remainder of the journey.
A broken oar gate could also have ended any hopes at a record and reduced the boat to only 2 rowing positions but thanks to the well prepared and experienced skipper spares were at hand and the problem rectified quickly.
Skipper Craughwell attributes the hard work of his crew and a little help from the weather gods to this record breaking crossing, while Adam Burke attributes the good speed and consistency to having a competent and experienced captain.
The Men will now spend a few days of well earned rest in Barbados before returning home to be united with their friends and families. Sara G will be shipped back to the UK in the coming months where she will be readied for another ocean crossing with www.worldoceanrowing.com where she will be looking to break yet another world record in June 2012 rowing the Indian Ocean from Australia to Africa.
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