09 January 2019: The multi-world record attempt by Row4Ocean has been abandoned after a broken rudder left the four-man rowing team stranded in the Atlantic, 750 nautical miles (nm) from their destination.
But the team has successfully achieved its aim of focusing attention on the problem of plastic pollution in our oceans, with the crew using Inmarsat Fleet One to transmit compelling video, audio and images worldwide.
Satellite connectivity also played a critical role when the 40ft (12-metre) multihull rowing boat Year of Zayed suffered damage to its rudder, with supporters able to follow the crew’s valiant and repeated attempts to save their challenge.
The row was finally halted on 7 January, 24 days after they set out from Dakar in Senegal, West Africa, with the aim of rowing 2,305 nm across the Atlantic in under 27 days, taking four world records.
Despite the cramped conditions, the crew of Patrick Bol, Lewis Knollman, Andrew Ruinoff and Matt Wild have opted to stay on board as their support vessel Supertramp tows them to Paramaribo in Suriname, on the north eastern Atlantic coast of South America.
“We are safe but we are gutted,” said Patrick via Fleet One. “From a practical point of view, someone needs to stay on board the boat to keep a watch. In reality there is no space for all four of us, but nobody wanted to leave the boat regardless of the hardship.
“I would like to thank all of our sponsors and supporters, after so much time and effort the project failed because of a small piece of metal. It is a pity but we wanted to put out the important message about plastic pollution, and we have at least done that. We were so close, and sometimes you learn more from failure than success.”
Row4Ocean Syndicate Partner, Clive Frost, on board Supertramp, added: “Having access to the Inmarsat Fleet One system’s capabilities was a huge source of inspiration, taking on even great significance in these difficult times, driving the tenacious crew forward with welcome, morale-boosting messages from friends and family and encouraging weather reports.
“It is also important that we can continue to be confident that the plastic pollution messages continue to reach far and wide.”
Throughout their time at sea, Row4Ocean have used Inmarsat’s global, seamless voice and data service to give an intimate insight into the highs and lows of such an extreme challenge, from watching a pod of dolphins at sunrise and sharing greetings with family on Christmas Day to the frustration of attempting repairs in the middle of the ocean.
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