Corkmen cross Atlantic in 57 days

JANUARY and February are good months to get away from it all. For two Corkmen, this meant spending two months rowing 5,500km across the Atlantic.

Not quite a holiday, but yesterday, Peter Williams, 26, from Douglas and Mike Jones, 29, from Cobh, were finally enjoying the fruits of their labour in sunny Barbados.

Having started out in Agadir in Morocco in early January, the two Corkmen were part of a six-person crew which spent just under 58 days crossing the Atlantic solely under the power of their own steam.

Speaking to RTÉ Radio yesterday, Peter described the last few days of the epic journey as a “rollercoaster”.

“We were at sea in total for nearly 58 days, just a couple of hours short of 58 days and we had a pretty tough last three or four days. It was a bit of a rollercoaster.

“We went from last Sunday evening doing 0.1 nautical milers per hour, essentially the equivalent of about a football pitch every 30 minutes, which is painstakingly slow, to 24 hours later being on world record pace when we spent eight hours doing over four miles per hour.

“It was a serious rollercoaster for the last three days. The final three hours was a real struggle. We were doing about one mile per hour. We could see our final destination but it wouldn’t get any closer for us,” he said.

Their home for those 57 days was the purpose-built ocean rowing boat Sara G. Each member spent two hours on and two hours off the oars 24 hours a day for the crossing, meaning each crew member rowed for 12 hours every day.

In January 2009, Peter was part of the 14-man Le Mondiale crew which attempted to break the world record for crossing the Atlantic east to west. They were forced to abandon the attempt at 1,500km due to the loss of the boat’s rudder. They were three days ahead of schedule.

While there were some low points, including spending five days on sea anchor going backwards, Peter said the high points greatly outnumbered the low points.

“We did a lot of fishing, caught fresh fish. The general banter on board and sitting out at night looking up at the stars and rowing in good conditions and surfing down the waves. And just living very, very simple life with a tight-knit group of people,” he said.

Peter will be back to run the Cork marathon on the June bank holiday weekend. His father, in his 70s, is also running.

The apple didn’t fall very far from the tree.

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