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Thatcham man rowing Atlantic for late wife faces rough seas, blisters and flying fish



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A Thatcham man has taken to the oceans to raise awareness of a cancer charity that supported his late wife.

After Ed Smith’s wife Anna lost her battle with cancer, in June 2018, he began supporting the charity, Victoria’s Promise through fundraising.

Mr Smith and his three friends, all of whom knew Anna, have now spent more than three weeks at sea after they set sail on December 12 in the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge.

The crew spent Christmas and New Years at sea but made sure to send holiday wishes out to friends and family. Picture by: Team Anna Victorious. (54189827)
The crew spent Christmas and New Years at sea but made sure to send holiday wishes out to friends and family. Picture by: Team Anna Victorious. (54189827)

Team Anna Victorious are joined by around 30 other teams taking part in the challenge, widely regarded as the world’s toughest row.

Rowing from the Canary Islands to Antigua, Mr Smith and his team have seen waves the height of houses and literally come face to face with unusual animals.

As well as swells the “height of two houses” Mr Smith reported that the crew have been “battered around and have nearly capsized multiple times”.

Ed Smith on his journey across the Atlantic. Picture by: Team Anna Victorious. (54189823)
Ed Smith on his journey across the Atlantic. Picture by: Team Anna Victorious. (54189823)

He also reported that they are “physically aching and suffering from extreme sleep deprivation” as well as getting “salt sores, infections and blisters”.

Keeping friends, family and supporters updated on their journey the crew have faced many challenges and even spent their Christmas and New Year at sea.

Mr SMith also took a moment to send out a message to his daughter Alba for her fifth birthday.

He said: “Instead of being with Alba opening presents, I’m hoping to give her an even bigger gift.

Ed Smith with Rob Murray, Jack Biss before the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge.
Ed Smith with Rob Murray, Jack Biss before the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge.

“The knowledge that persistence, drive and purpose means that you can achieve amazing things.”

On December 16, Mr Smith said: “The team are all doing really well. There was no serious sea sickness in the last few days, but the little bit there was has now gone.

“They are all feeling really good and strong despite a hot day with no wind or waves assisting them along. It’s a hard slog but in good spirits.”

Ed Smith and his friends setting off on their journey in December. Picture by: Team Anna Victorious. (54189829)
Ed Smith and his friends setting off on their journey in December. Picture by: Team Anna Victorious. (54189829)

On January 10, day 28, Mr Smith said that the past 72 hours had been "extremely hard".

He and his crew, Rob Murray, Adam Green and Jack Biss have faced sleep deprivation.

“The night times are particularly challenging, even though we're all fathers and used to being sleep deprived, the shifts during the night, we struggled to stay awake on the oars, but the spectacular sky, shooting stars and moon rising that takes place about 8.30pm every night, over our stern cabin takes our breath away every day.”

Ed Smith with Rob Murray, Jack Biss before they set sail.
Ed Smith with Rob Murray, Jack Biss before they set sail.

A breadth of wildlife has also joined the team including flying fish, with one striking crew member Mr Green “directly in the face”.

“We had to wait a few days to see much wildlife other than a small sea bird that we nicknamed Percy that joined us for several days," Mr Smith added.

“We've now seen dolphins, whales, turtles, and more recently at night, flying fish that seem to be determined to get onto the boat with us.

Team Anna Victorious waving the flag. Picture by: Team Anna Victorious. (54189825)
Team Anna Victorious waving the flag. Picture by: Team Anna Victorious. (54189825)

“For now, we will take our chances with the flying fish rather than what lies beneath the surface.”

The team made it almost halfway through their journey on day 19 (December 30) and are now well on their way to successfully completing their challenge.

In addition to their fundraising to support Victoria’s Promise, the friends are rowing for One For The Sea – an initiative launched by Talisker and Parley to help support the protection and preservation of 100 million square metres of sea forest by 2023.

You can track their progress at https://www.taliskerwhiskyatlanticchallenge.com/



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