Rower Completes Atlantic Ocean Challenge
22 February 2012
Costain’s Chris Walters, and his Corinthians teammates, completed their Atlantic Ocean Rowing Challenge in 48 days, eight hours and three minutes, beating their own target by nearly two days.
In what is billed as the world’s toughest rowing race, the team set off from San Sebastian de la Gomera, in the Canary Islands, on 4th December 2011 and rowed 2,645 nautical miles – or over 3,000 regular miles – to finish in Port St Charles, in Barbados, on 22nd January 2012. With storms and 40 foot waves, many boats ended up travelling a lot further.
By the sixth day the team was in the lead but problems with its steering mechanism restricted progress and it was unable to make up for lost time once the problem was rectified.
“That particular breakdown, and there were a few, really knocked us back because we had to steer the boat manually and it limited the number of people we needed to row the boat,” said Chris, a plumber for Promanex, Costain’s industrial services division, based in Devon.
The team survived on desalinated drinking water generated by on-board solar panels and a diet of high calorie compact food packs, but the biggest challenge the team faced was sleep deprivation.
“We survived on less than three hours sleep a night, which can really play tricks on the mind. Trying to focus on the task of rowing while being constantly wet, caked in salt and rowing in mid-30 degree daytime temperatures really added to the discomfort and exhaustion,” said Chris.
Chris added: “It was like the worst caravan holiday you could imagine but with torture thrown in. It really tested us mentally and physically. We trained for it at home but no amount of training can truly prepare you for what it’s like on the open ocean. We wanted to complete it within 50 days so we’re very happy.”
The four-man team was the oldest team in the history of the competition, with fellow crew member Tony Short the oldest competitor at 66.
The team continues to raise money for two charities; Shelterbox, which provides food parcels for people affected by natural and man-made disasters, and the British Heart Foundation.
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