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'Still smiling and laughing' on Atlantic row

Finish line is in sight for Ocean5 team

Jonathan Ashby

Jonathan Ashby

jonathan.ashby@newburynews.co.uk

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01635 886637

'Still smiling and laughing' on Atlantic row

IT has been almost five weeks since Kevin Gaskell and his Ocean5 team set off on their epic challenge to row across the Atlantic Ocean – and the men are going strong.

The team, which includes Mr Gaskell’s son Matt, is in fourth place in the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge – a 5,000km race from La Gomera in the Canary Islands to Antigua.

Since departing from La Gomera on Thursday, December 12, the team has maintained a gruelling 24-hour relay rowing cycle of two hours on, two hours off for each rower and has around 500km to go.

They are also currently the leading five-man team.

Speaking via a satellite phone, businessman and adventurer Mr Gaskell, 61, from North Sydmonton, said the challenge was “brutal” but that the men were still very positive.

“I’ve just come off two hours of rowing, so I have two hours now to have a nap and get something to eat and then I’m back on,” he said.

“Physically we are very tired – the regime is brutal, but we’re still smiling and laughing.

“It’s an amazing place to be as you can imagine, and we haven’t seen another soul since we left.

“We’re getting a lot of support on social media, which means a lot to us.

“People are sending us really nice messages, and that helps because there are times when you think ‘I can’t do this, I can’t keep going for another 18 days’.

“People are saying we’re inspiring their children and they love what we’re doing, and that makes us feel good that we’re not just shouting into an empty black box.”

Mr Gaskell – who has walked to the North and South Pole as well as climbed some of the world’s tallest mountains – said the team was hoping for windy conditions to push the boat along, but not too rough, having already seen two oars snapped in a storm.

“The conditions aren’t rough enough for us because we have three very good mariners on board and we think we could use the power in the storms to our advantage,” Mr Gaskell said.

“On the first Friday we tried to use the power of a storm and it was too powerful.

“We got a right battering, and two of our carbon-fibre oars – which are designed to take tonnes and tonnes – were snapped in our hands.

“That showed us the power we were facing, but we had two spares so away we went.

“I haven’t had one moment of fear – there is some trepidation when we’re sideswiped by 500 tonnes of water, but the boat has been phenomenal.

“We’ll just keep going.”

The Ocean5 team is raising money for Plastic Soup Foundation – a charity targeting plastic pollution at source by preventing it from entering the environment and the ocean.

To donate, visit https://www.gofundme.com/the-ocean-5/donate

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