More people have climbed Everest and gone into space than have rowed the Atlantic, but that’s just what dentists Justin Marney and Azud Irshad did early this year.
They set out on December 14th from La Gomera in the Canary Islands. Fifty one days, 11 hours and 35mins later, on February 3rd, they rowed into English Harbour in Antigua having completed the 3000 mile Talisker Whiskey Atlantic Challenge.
They won the pairs race and came 5th overall in a fleet of 12 boats. Justin qualified from Manchester in 1991 and his partner Azud from Plymouth. They currently practice together with others in Dartmouth.
During the crossing they had to battle huge seas and storms, had several near misses with large oil tankers and, rowing 12 hours per day, suffered blisters, salt rash and sleep deprivation.
To maintain their strength they had each to consume 5000 calories and 10 litres of water a day, which they sourced from high energy freeze dried foods and desalinated sea water provided by a solar panel operated water maker.
Their boat was a high tech 23ft Rannoch 15 Ocean Rowing boat, self-righting and with full communication systems including an auto-helm, which they never turned off.
They routinely rowed 2 hours on and 2 hours off but when the weather was too rough they had to lock themselves into the small aft cabin. It was too narrow for both of them to lie on their backs.
As well as this, the cabin being totally air locked could run out of oxygen in prolonged lock downs needing them to open the hatch to refresh the air which resulted in a good soaking. Despite these rigours they never had a cross word and completed the challenge with smiles on their faces.
The toll it took on their hands, however, was another matter and meant they had to take a month to recuperate before being able to return to work. Sponsorship from their challenge raised £15,000 for their local hospice.
Since then Justin has cycled from Lands’ End to John O’Groats.