By Georgia Grimond, Senior Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – A team of four intrepid rowers hope to have made history as the first group to row a new ocean route, the first mixed crew and the first team of four to cross the Atlantic in a rowing boat. The Row2Rio team landed 35 miles north of Recife on Saturday April 23rd having set off from Portugal 56 days ago.
The team, comprised of Jake Heath, Mel Parker, Luke Richmond and Susannah Cass, were said to be weary but ecstatic as they walked on dry land for the first time in almost two months. They were met by a crowd of family and friends.
“The Atlantic was in the way but we thought that crossing it might be a way of linking the two host cities,” Jake Heath told BT News. Adding that he had also been inspired by the “fantastic feelings and sense of pride” felt when London hosted the Olympics and Paralympics four years ago.
The group left the Olympic Park in Stratford, London, on January 9th and cycled 1,495 miles to Lagos in Portugal. From there they boarded their rowing boat and set off for Brazil. Having landed here, they will once again get on their bikes to complete their challenge by cycling to Rio de Janeiro. They hope to arrive in the city in a month’s time.
The trip has been three years in the making and has cost close to £75,000. The money has been gathered through sponsorship, personal contributions and loans. The challenge is in aid of Macmillan Cancer Support charity who the team are raising money for.
Rowing 24 hours a day in two hour shifts, the journey has been physically and emotionally grueling for the group. “You cannot really prepare your body for it. You just have to get out and do it,” Heath explains. “I was surprised by how supportive people can be when you are out working at 2AM on the ocean and it sounds like hell on Earth out there.”
“It is when you step out of the hatch in the pitch black at night with crazy force winds hitting you from the side. You can hear the wind and waves crashing with the boat. We have also got to get fed and get to sleep. We have to just get back out there and get the rest of the team back in to rest.”