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Rowers Dan Parsons and Olly Clark and Matt Townsend and Charlie Hayward from Canterbury weather Atlantic storm.

By Gerry Warren

Dan Parsons and Olly Clark are among 26 crews competing in the 3,000-mile crossing, which is billed the toughest challenge in the world.

This week the rowers have been battling ferocious storm, with the pair’s boat, Atlantic Challenger, overturned by a massive wave at night.

Olly Clark and Dan Parsons aboard Atlantic Challenge

Olly Clark and Dan Parsons aboard Atlantic Challenge

Recording the scary episode in his blog, Olly, 30, who attended St Edmund’s School in Canterbury, tells how he was on his rowing shift when the wave struck.

He said: “It rose up like a small house hitting the boat and twisted it 90 degrees and over we went.

“My feet were prised from my shoes and I was thrown over the safety rail into the water.

“As I bobbed back up the deck of the boat followed me over but sprung back to its natural upright position as it is designed to.

“I clambered on board with my first concern being Dan in the tumble dryer inside. A surreal moment and an experience I will not forget or wish to encounter again.”

The Atlantic Lions with Matt Townsend and Charlie Hayward

The Atlantic Lions with Matt Townsend and Charlie Hayward

Former Langton boy Dan 29, added: “One minute we are steaming along nicely, the next I’m lying on the cabin roof, having been showered in loose items and personal effects.

“Luckily, she righted herself almost instantly, leaving us in darkness with a power failure trying to check the boat over for any damage.

“We pumped out and carried on – now in pitch black. An exciting, if not slightly nerve-racking, night.”

The storm has delayed the progress of the boats in the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge, who were all forced to cast out parachute anchors and weather it out.

The race tracker charts the boats' progress

The race tracker charts the boats' progress

But Dan and Olly, who met at Loughborough University, are currently lying in fourth place mid-Atlantic, still more than 1,000 miles from the finishing post in Antigua.

They are raising money for ABF The Soldiers’ Charity and Prostate Cancer UK.

Also competing are another pair from Canterbury, Matt Townsend, 25, and Charlie Hayward, 26, who met playing hockey for Canterbury and Kent.

They are being sponsored by Barretts and are rowing alongside two university friends in a four-man boat.

The crew is currently in 16th place and raising money for multiple sclerosis.

Charlie said: “While our bodies and minds are adjusting to the crazy sleep patterns, it’s the sores, muscles and cuts that are starting to cause the most problems. People have always said that ocean rowing ruins your behind.

“We chuckle as screams of agony come from the cabins where the two on break are applying the ever necessary yet excruciatingly painful surgical spirit to the private parts – something we certainly won’t miss once Antigua is in our sights.”

To follow the challenge online visit www.taliskerwhiskyatlanticchallenge.com.

 

 

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