Copyright Tony Matthews
Sir Garfield Sobers is regarded as one of the finest all-round cricketers in the history of the game and is a legend in Barbados. In 1969 he scored six sixes in an over, an unbeatable record that will stand for all time. By coincidence 1969 was also the year that John Fairfax became the first man to row the Atlantic from east to west, he took 180 days.
Since then 167 teams have attempted to row the Atlantic, east to west.
The British Ocean Rowing team is only the third team to achieve this amazing feat in under 40 days. What is even more incredible is that three of the four man team have never rowed an ocean before or anything like it.
Out of food, tired and drained from their efforts, the team arrived in Barbados to a very warm welcome at 14.09 (16.09 GMT) on Tuesday 20th February 2007 after completing the Atlantic crossing in just 37 days.
A huge welcoming party was staged at the Barbados Coastguard base including Captain Peter Morgan, Defense Advisor at The British High Commission.
The rowers missed the world record by a four man team by a single day but they are all heroes. They risked their souls to live a dream, this row was unsupported when they left the Canaries they were on there own; four men-one ocean.
As predicted by Barbados Coastguard the Northerly approach into the Island was a hazardous one. The tiny and cramped 26ft rowing boat was being tossed around by the three metre swell and the coastline is dotted with sharp coral reefs and growlers; rocks that only just break the surface. But the team received no assistance from the Coastguard until they touch land, ironically being the jetty of a cement factory after a concrete performance.
Copyright Tony Matthews
There were emotional scenes as the team was greeted by their girlfriends and head sponsor InnotecWorld; unsteady on their feet but in amazing shape after their monumental ordeal;
Team Captain Dom Mee commented upon reaching Barbados;
“I feel immensely proud of the team, they were absolutely top class and a privilege to work with. We always knew that breaking the world record was going to be tough. Nobody has had the guts to speak out and take this record on before and if we had not had a four day dose of head winds in the middle of the attempt we would have smashed it by a couple of days. The boat has been our rock with only minor repairs carried out during the voyage.”
Pete Bird was embraced by his family dockside; his Mother, Father, two brothers and his girlfriend were there to see him come in;
“At the moment I just feel elated to be here and to be reunited with my family, breaking the record would have been the icing on the cake but we all feel that there was nothing more we could have done to achieve that. I have formed an unbreakable bond.”
Ed James from London had an emotional reunion with his Mother and girlfriend;
“ It has been epic when I look back on the row, the first few days were surprisingly not as difficult as we had envisaged but about day six we had a bad night, vicious squalls with the wind all over the place and very confused seas, at one point we got hit bow on by a big rogue wave and the boat was spun through about 40 degrees, if that wave had hit us a amidships I don’t like to think about what might of happened.”
Tom Rendell’s legs literally buckled as he saw his girlfriend for the first time in over 40 days;
It has been tough but I didn’t expect anything else, I have always wanted to row an Ocean and now I have and I have done so with some really special people, Dom, Ed and Pete will always be like family to me.”
Ed James, Pete Bird and Tom Rendell are young men that have had a life changing experience that will stay with them for the rest of their lives. They are bold men prepared to work hard and endure immense sacrifices for their team to succeed in their goals.
No doubt Captain Dom Mee will announce another expedition soon; he has rowed, kayaked and even kite surfed in some of the most inhospitable places on this earth and his next trip is sure to be as awe inspiring and in some ways, motivating to all of us.