On 8th February 2011 Ocean rowing boat ‘Sara G’ Skippered by English man Matt Craughwell pulled into Port St. Charles, Barbados and into the record books. 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.
Adam Burke is from Skerries and Rob Byrne from Bray and both are very experienced Ocen Rowing Crew members
Thomas Cremona, 22 , from Malta, is a cancer survivor. Talking about his achievement he had this to say:
“I started this campaign to really push my body and my mind. In this way, I hope to inspire other cancer survivors that cancer can be part of our history, but should not control our future. Life is to be lived; goals are set to be achieved.”
Not only have they achieved this goal by taking 10 hours 36 minutes off the old record set by Team Hallin , only the day before , they have also set a new world record for rowing more consecutive days over 100+ miles than any other boat in history. The old record which was set by the 07/08 ‘La Mondiale’ crew stood at 9 days, Craughwell and his crew managed a superhuman effort to extend this out to an incredible 12 days.
It has not all been plain sailing, or rather rowing, for the international crew on board ‘Sara G’. Life on board an 11m (34’) long 1.8m (6’) wide ocean rowing boat is far from luxurious and with a gruelling 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 centre board less than half way across could have seriously jeopardised the record attempt, the centre 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 centre 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 . She will be looking to break yet another world record in June 2012 rowing the Indian Ocean from Australia to Africa.