Gutted rowers could try again

TWO airmen who encountered waves the size of a house during an 78 day row across the Atlantic Ocean have not ruled out doing it again.Flight Lieutenant Mark Jacklin and Squadron Leader Matt Stowers were describing their experiences at RAF Honington yesterday after arriving back home from Barbados where they finished the 3,000-nautical mile Atlantic Rowing Challenge.

TWO airmen who encountered waves the size of a house during an 78 day row across the Atlantic Ocean have not ruled out doing it again.

Flight Lieutenant Mark Jacklin and Squadron Leader Matt Stowers were describing their experiences at RAF Honington yesterday after arriving back home from Barbados where they finished the 3,000-nautical mile Atlantic Rowing Challenge.

Despite spending Christmas in the boat and experiencing close encounters with treacherous weather, sharks and tankers, the pair refused to rule out taking a second shot at the event.

Sqd Ldr Stowers said he was left with some "unfinished business" when the pair's boat was forced to be towed over the finishing line after heavy winds pushed them off course.


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He said: "We had to decide whether to row around the island, which would have taken another three days, with only ten litres of water and a packet of noodles left. It was a very close call but we were running on empty.

"As it was me who was incapable of rowing the last mile, I took it very badly. I have massive regrets about the decision and it is a case of unfinished business."

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Flt Lft Jacklin added: "Everyone was ecstatic when we crossed the finishing line but we were gutted."

The pair have not ruled out taking part in the event in 2005 although Flt Lft Jacklin said it was too early to decide.

He said: "We would have liked to finish the race and we can see where we went wrong and where we could make improvements.

"But my wife would kill me if I ever suggested going back out there again," he joked.

The pair, who had no rowing experience before agreeing to take part in the race , had originally hoped to challenge the world record for rowing across the Ocean – 41 days set by a New Zealand team in 1997.

Despite racing against Olympic rowers and members of the Cambridge boat team, the pair said they were regarded as among the favourites going into the race.

Countless battles against the elements ruined their chances of winning the race within the first few weeks.

They spent 78 days on the sea – almost twice as many as they had originally hoped – which also left their food supplies severely depleted.

Flt Lft Jacklin said: "We were up against waves the size of a house – you would look up and just see a wall of water."

The pair hope to raise £30,000 for children's charity the Philip Green Memorial Trust.

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