British duo win epic Atlantic Challenge

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Toby Iles and Nick Moore have won the 2011/2012 Talisker Whiskey Atlantic Challenge, triumphing after one of the closest finishes in the event’s history.

The Box Number Eight crew arrived in Barbados at 21:15 on Saturday, after rowing over 2500 nautical miles across the Atlantic Ocean in aid of their chosen charity – ShelterBox.

Just 26 minutes later solo rower Andrew Brown arrived in the harbour, having relinquished the lead just hours earlier that same day.

‘It’ll take a while to sink in,’ said Mr. Moore. ‘We set off with the intention of just getting across, that was the plan – to get across and have a good experience.’

To win the epic race, the pair had to cope with salt rashes, blisters, and severe sleep deprivation after rowing in two-hour shifts, day and night, for over five weeks.

‘To win the race was an added bonus,’ Mr. Moore added, ‘and to win the way we did, and to race as hard as we did was great.’

The pair stayed on the deck to welcome Mr. Brown back to dry land, after spending much of their 40-day race neck and neck with the 26-year-old from Surrey.

‘We didn’t expect to [win the race] right up until the last moments, really,’ said Mr. Iles. ‘We only passed Andrew four or five hours before the finish. We’ve traded places with him between first and second for almost the entire race – we swapped leads three or four times.’

Mr. Brown may have been pipped at the post by the victorious Box Number 8 crew, but his herculean effort earned him a new world record for the fastest solo rower across the Atlantic Ocean – finishing in 40 days, nine hours and 41 minutes.

He has also raised over £67,000 for the Toy Trust and Capital FM’s Help a Capital Child.

The Atlantic Challenge – dubbed the world’s toughest rowing race by event organisers – saw 17 boats depart from the Canary Islands in November.

Forty days later, and six crews have been forced out of the race due to difficulties ranging from faulty navigational systems, severe sea-sickness, and fierce weather conditions.

Four-man crew The Atlantic4 claimed third place in the gruelling race, finishing on Monday afternoon (GMT) after 41 days, 23 hours and 34 minutes at sea.

The men claimed two world records in the process – the youngest four-man crew to complete the challenge (at a combined 91 years), and also the first twins to row across the Atlantic (Ross and Hugo Turner, who joined Greg Symondson and Adam Wolley in the 29-foot long boat).

So far, The Atlantic4 have raised over £251,000 for Spinal Research

‘This was a fantastic finish because it has been very rough out there,’ the event’s safety officer Simon Chalke told The Sunday Telegraph. ‘There have been high winds and storms. The sea is in a big state, and you’re in a tiny rowing boat.’

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