Precious Lives Atlantic Challenge rowers going strong

PUBLISHED: 09:10 23 July 2014

Elliot and Chris setting off on the Precious Lives Atlantic Challenge on June 7 from New York

Elliot and Chris setting off on the Precious Lives Atlantic Challenge on June 7 from New York


A pair of brave West Country rowers are battling the tides and rowing across the Atlantic in a challenge to raise money for a charity, writes Hannah Baillie

Chris “Darby” Walters and Elliot Dale are on course to set a new record for being the fastest pair to row 3,246 miles in under 55 days.

The men are only the second in the world to attempt rowing the route from New York to the Isles of Scilly and are making good headway.

Both men are rowing to complete the Precious Lives Atlantic Challenge in aid of the Children’s Hospice South West (CHSW) and are determined to raise over £250,000 for the charity.

With an average speed of 4.3 knots, they are over half way there as they approach the Mid Atlantic Ridge.

Chris, 55, and Elliot, 54, have been enjoying the current weather conditions as the Gulf Stream is increasing their speed.

However it has not always been such plain sailing for the duo from Lyme Regis

The men set off on the dangerous route on 7 June and have faced many difficulties.

After nearly a month at sea in a modern class pairs boat, the couple have overcome 40 foot high waves, hurricanes, shark and whale encounters and near misses with cargo ships.

But even in the depths of their hardship they show no signs of slowing down as they remain motivated by the money they are raising for CHSW.

In their regular online blog posts from the boat, Chris said: “Despite how tough this journey has been so far, our thoughts still turn to the families and children at Children’s Hospice South West.

“Our journey has an end in sight when we can go home, relax and enjoy life again. Their story has a very different ending.”

The pair is following in the footsteps of the historic rowers, George Harbo and Frank Samuelson who crossed the Atlantic in just 55 days in 1896.

However the men are attempting to beat their predecessors and it looks like victory is in their sights.

Chris and Elliot are less than 800 miles from the Isles of Scilly and hope to complete, what has been described as the hardest route across the Atlantic, in early August.

During the voyage the two men have encountered tough seas, tropical rain storms and the blistering heat.

On top of testing weather conditions, the men are overcoming physical and emotional challenges including sickness, hand blistering and hallucinations, all of which project manager of Precious Lives Atlantic Challenge, Brian Fletcher can relate to.

Brian has previously completed the Talisker Atlantic Challenge, deemed the toughest rowing race in the world and said that now the rowers have crossed the half way mark, the challenge “really starts to tell on them.”

A seasoned rower himself, Brian describes the hardships the men will be facing: “You are physically exhausted and missing home and having been continually damp for over a month with no skin left on your hands, it’s hard to remain motivated.”

The challenge has already received over £100,000 of donations for CHSW and it is the thing that is keeping the men going.

Brian shows admiration for the remarkable courage and determination shown by Chris and Elliot to succeed despite all the elements have decided to throw at them.

Although the men are both on board, they are unable to spend time together and support each other, as Brian explains how the voyage will be “extremely lonely.” He said: “As one of them sleeps, the other one rows. I admire their courage wholeheartedly and you cannot help but be in awe of this incredible feat.”

The money raised by the historic row will go to support the CHSW.

The charity has three hospices in Cornwall, Devon and Somerset that provides care and support to families of children with life-limiting illnesses across the South West.

Each hospice offers a range of services including, short breaks, specialist play, music therapy, activities for siblings, palliative and emergency care, end of life care and bereavement support.

To donate and to support the challenge you can text PLAC14 £X, to 70070. For example PLAC14 £10 to 70070 or go to; Virgin Money Giving.

You can also follow Chris and Elliot’s progress on the tracker

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