Two British guys have just completed an epic 3,200 mile row across the Indian Ocean, from Australia to Mauritius. Taking 116 days, the pair (James Adair and Ben Stenning) rowed 3 hours on, 3 off, day and night – resting while the other rowed. They are the first pair to complete the trip, without a support boat, and only the 3rd pair to complete the distance in a rowing boat.
But, they only just made it there alive. On the final night, just before landfall in Mauritius, a large wave capsized their 23 foot vessel, throwing them into the sea. Their boat was smashed in the storm, while Adair and Stenning were dragged across coral reefs, resulting in cuts across their torsos, having tried to swim to shore. Attempts to light parachute flares, originally destined for a triumphal arrival, resulted in further cuts to their hands, thanks to having numb hands from rowing. Worried about sharks, Ben kept looking under water to make sure the pair were safe.
With their communication equipment damaged, the alarm was raised when their land-based navigation team lost radio contact. Helicopters failed to spot them, despite using high-powered spotlights. It was only when a team of Mauritians in boats, who came out to the reef, found an oar close by to the pair, that they started shouting and whistling to attract their attention. Dragging them across the shallow coral on mattresses, the Mauritians hauled the pair onto the rescue boats, and took them ashore, to their waiting (and very nervous!) families.
James and Ben are recovering, before returning to London – “I suppose we will have to get back to reality in London now, catching the tube to work, topping up the oyster card. Hmm.”