Wounded veterans begin gruelling bid to row the Atlantic


A team of wounded military veterans has begun a record-breaking attempt to row across the Atlantic.

The foursome - Lee Spencer, Nigel Rogoff, Paddy Gallagher and Cayle Royce - aged 29 to 56, from Devon, Hereford and Cambridgeshire - were among the 26 crews setting off from La Gomera in the Canary Islands today, destined for the finish line in Antigua in the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge.

The Row2Recovery team will attempt to complete the 3,000-mile trip with just three legs between them, having each suffered life-changing injuries at some point since their military careers began.

Team captain Mr Royce, 29, competed in the competition - dubbed the world's toughest rowing race - two years ago, 18 months after waking from a coma when he was injured in Afghanistan.

The team will be up against 25 other teams, including four women aged 22 to 51 from Yorkshire, and 20-year-old University of Bristol aerospace engineering student Callum Gathercole, a solo competitor.

Crews will spend at least a month at sea, living on freeze-dried food and battling the elements. They are all raising money for charity.

The teams - including 19 from the UK - have already had to deal with the unexpected before they even left dry land, with the race being delayed by five days due to poor weather conditions.

Carsten Heron Olsen, chief executive of race organiser Atlantic Campaigns, said: "This is the third Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge; this year we have 26 teams from the US, Italy, the UK, Antigua, Australia and South Africa, there are 62 rowers in total.

"Winds look extremely favourable for the rowers for the first few days at sea, and alongside the high level of professionalism of the participants, we're anticipating a quick and competitive race and hopefully break some records.

"The race was planned to start on Tuesday but due to strong winds going in the wrong direction, we had to delay the race for a few days.

"We have some incredible teams this year, from the inspirational mums, Yorkshire Rows, the head strong Americans, Team Beyond and Latitude 35, to the laid-back Antiguans, Team Wadadli. We have a race full of characters and I can't wait for the stories on the water to unfold."

The teams' progress is being documented on the official race website www.taliskerwhiskyatlanticchallenge.com while others will be updating their own websites and social media throughout.