A team of four Brits have won the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge (TWAC), the rowing race from the Canary Islands to Antigua, in 32 days, 12 hours and 35 minutes. Oliver Palmer, Tom Foley, Hugh Gilum and Max Breet, of team Fortitude IV, were repeatedly capsizing as they approached the finish line, but asked the race organisers not to tell their families in case it worried them.
“The sum of all the parts is unbelievable – from seeing the shooting stars, to the arrival, to the support you feel from family and friends, to the buzz of following the tracker,” Gilum said on arrival at the finish on Monday night, Antigua time.
“There are tough times, there are times you perhaps wish away, it's easy to say now. We saw whales, turtles and dolphins. It’s a magical combination in a slightly twisted, sadistic way, but it seems to work somehow.”
Thirty-five teams set off from La Gomera, in the Canary Islands, on December 12. There are solo, pairs, trios, fours and five person teams rowing. They row for two hours, and sleep for two hours, in continuous shifts, all day and night. They have no support boats with them, so each team carry their own food and make their water with a solar-powered desalinator.
Foley lost 14kg, Palmer 13.5kg, Breet 13.5kg and Gilum 14.8kg during the crossing.
“We spoke about this while we were out there and agreed to do it again you'd have to pay us about two million quid [British pounds],” said Gilum.
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THE WINNERS!!! Oliver, Tom, Hugh and Max from @fortitudefour have arrived in Antigua! They have just rowed 3,000 miles across the Atlantic Ocean in The @talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge in 32 days, 12 hours, 35 minutes. CONGRATULATIONS!! Picture credit: @benduffyphoto #TWAC2019 #madebythesea
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Breet said he was looking forward to “food, shower, mattress, not waking up every 40 minutes. Not getting flipped when you're asleep in the cabin. The little things you leave when you're on the ocean. Being able to walk around and not having to crawl from a seated position to a lying position.”
Palmer’s highlight was seeing a train of stars: “There must have been about 200 of them moving [across the sky]. It might not have been stars, but it was awesome.”
The team were trained by record-setting ocean rowing coach Duncan Roy, who has rowed across the Atlantic twice himself, the first time becoming the youngest person to row in a team across the Atlantic, at just 27 years old.
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A monumentally HUGE congratulations to each of the @fortitudefour lads who are officially the winners of the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge 2019!! . . It has been an absolute pleasure to have worked with Tom, Hugh, Max and Ollie during their campaign and throughout their race as their Ocean Rowing Coach. I could not be prouder of them and of what they have achieved! They have had a really tough crossing with a whole plethora of conditions to test them and yet every day they were hungry to go faster, row harder and put more miles on the rest of the fleet . . I have never had any doubt that these lads would win the race, they are true professionals, they left no stone unturned prior to the race, approached everything with an open mind and gave 100% effort to everything they tackled. Seeing and following these guys work is true peak performance in action . . We started working together 18 months ago and are now friends for life. Well done lads, enjoy the victory. You’ve earned it . . #oceanrowing #twac2019 #fortitudefour #winners #winningteam #legends #oceanrowingcoaching
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Crowds gathered in English Harbour to cheer in the 2019/20 winners.
“It feels absolutely amazing, and the reception we've had here couldn't be better, friends, family and people we've never met,” said Foley.