Oarsome effort was just another day at work for Atlantic rowers

atlantic rowers phil mccorry and dan renner at the end of their journey having reached Barbados
atlantic rowers phil mccorry and dan renner at the end of their journey having reached Barbados

Bexhill’s Phil McCorry and Dan Renner are home after their epic adventure rowing across the Atlantic Ocean.

They were met at Gatwick airport early on Sunday by partners and family then returned to an enthusiastic welcome at Bexhill Rowing Social Club which was “rammed” with friends and supporters.

The pair left the Canary Islands on November 10 and arrived in Barbados on December 29, having rowed a total of 3,285.69 miles completely unaided.

Even though they battled strong winds during the first three weeks, which meant rowing an extra 300 miles to avoid the worst weather, they still made it in less than 50 days and are in the elite top 20 pairs to take on this challenge, quicker than James Cracknell and Ben Fogle, and stand 13th fastest overall in terms of distance covered.

They were disappointed at times not to be progressing faster but realised compared to other boats in the event - such as Oystershack which ran into trouble and had its crew rescued - they were doing well thanks to the expertise of router Andy Bristow who plotted their way through.

The stormy conditions of course gave Phil and Dan their worst moments, when they were confined to cabin for 36 hours unable to row, but both have plenty of great memories during an amazing time in their lives.

It was a second major challenge for Phil, now 29, who crossed the Indian ocean in the four man Row4Charity boat in 2009 and quickly realised he wanted to try again before he reached 30. This trip was five years in planning, and Phil had to pay £12,500 himself for the boat, which has now been sold and will not be returning to Bexhill. He estimates the entire campaign cost between £25-30,000, including items such as food £3,000, shipping the boat £2,000, and a water-maker £2,000, half funded by the team and half by sponsorship, with a further £8,500 raised for the chosen charity, St Mary’s school and college.

For Dan, 26, however, this was a first and he “jumped at the chance” when opportunity arose, and “thoroughly enjoyed” the experience.

“At 1.21pm we shoook hands every day,” said Phil, “because that was the time we started on the first day, and we would say - tomorrow is going to be even better than today.”

They settled into a routine of one rowing for 90 minutes, while the other rested, existing on a diet of desalinated sea water, rehydrated expedition food in packs, chocolate and sweets, with Phil losing 22lbs over the weeks, and Dan 44lbs from their near constant effort.

Phil commented: “It just becomes the norm...It is what you do. You just row.”

Dan added: “I do feel pretty proud. We set out to take on a big challenge and we managed it. It felt like going to work really. Every day you go to work, and you get a bit of rest after that, and this felt like that - just another day’s hard labour.”

They were joined on the voyage by birds, dolphins, even a whale, and took time to admire a beautiful sunset, the best being on Christmas Day.

Phil said: “We are happy to be back. Given everything that could happen it has gone really well and been successful.”