A QUARTET of British women have been rescued after capsizing in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean in their quest to break a rowing speed record across the vast expanse of dangerous waters. They were 400 nautical miles from Cape Verde on the west African coast when their boat flipped over and they lost their oars. They activated an emergency beacon and were stranded for 16 hours before eventually being rescued by a bulk carrier ship destined for Canada early on Saturday February 13.
Gemma Chalk, Clare Lanyon, Jane McIntosh and Olivia Wilson had sought to break the women’s speed record for rowing the 3,000 mile journey from Gran Canaria to Barbados. With no oars, nor navigation system, after capsizing several times they were forced t abandon their quest, which was raising funds for charity.
UK Coastguard duty controller Ian Guy said: “The rowers were an extremely long way from land with no other vessels in the immediate vicinity. We received several responses to our mayday request, the nearest vessel being 90 nautical miles away, they quickly diverted and set course to the stricken rowers, taking 11 hours to reach them.
“This shows you how important it is to be prepared for your voyage and have several means of contacting the coastguard or raising an alarm, even if you are not in UK waters.
“Thankfully the rowers are now on board the bulk carrier and all are reported to be well.”
The women had set off on January 26 on a boat nicknamed the Fire Ant and had hoped to beat the current record of 45 days, 15 hours and 26 minutes set in January 2012.