Rowers rescued as boat is capsized by freak wave on Transatlantic charity challenge

We are relieved to report that TeamTom (Tom Sauer and Tom Fancett) are alive and well having been rescued by a cruise ship after their rowing boat capsized.

TeamTom were rowing the ‘Colombus route’ from the Canary Islands to Barbados when their eight-meter boat was struck by an ‘enourmous wave’ which flooded their cabin.

After a 10 hour wait, the boys were picked up by the closest cruise ship (120 miles away). They are currently on their way to St. Maartan.

The following dramatic report just in from Tom Sauer provides a first hand insight into the events that unfolded on Tuesday evening:

“At 19:00 Tom and I were just ready to change for our shifts.

We had done a very good 12 hours, managing to fix the autopilot. The sea was rough, but not any worse than it had been for the past 5 days. Our lovely PS Vita was dealing very well with the waves, which were coming from behind and not causing any problems, but for a few splashes.

Tom got out from the cabin, as I climbed in. We encouraged each other as usual for the shift that lay ahead. I turned to look at the GPS to see the milage I had row in the last 2 hours, as Tom put his leash on.

Just as I went for the cabin hatch handle Tom Shouted “Sh*t Sh*t Sh*t” and a wall of water hit us, capsizing us immediately and flooding the Cabin. I managed to get out of the cabin, to find Tom holding on to the hull of the boat. Thank god he was leashed on and managed to hold on to the boat.

The wave that hit us came at a 45 degree angle and was enormous, we were truly very unlucky. Now in the water with darkness fast approaching we had to react quickly. We tried to self-right the boat, but because the cabin had filled with water there was very little movement. Waves were hitting us in the face, as we struggled to hold on to the inverted boat.

We realised that our only hope of survival was recovering the Life Raft, The Emergency Beacon Locator and The Grab Bag. We managed to get hold of the Grab Bag and The Beacon without too much trouble, diving underneath the inverted boat. The life raft proved to be more difficult. About an hour after our capsize I finally managed to dive under the boat, cut the lines the raft was attached to and deploy it.

Thankfully Tom had in the meantime recovered and set off the Beacon. By the time we got into the life raft it was pitch black outside. We made ourselves as comfortable as possible, but were both getting very cold as waves would continuisly bring in cold sea water. In the life raft we made sure that the Beacon was working properly and we set up a shift pattern, so that we would regularly check for ships.

The cold made it very hard for us to stay awake, but especially Tom made sure an alam would go off every 30 min and shake us into some action. At around 5:20 Tom saw the cruise liner and fired off a parachute flair, followed by a few more. The ship saw us and approached us carefully. The rough conditions meant that the ship did not want to deploy its own rescue boat and instead came along side, which was very scary.

We eventually managed to climb on with the use of a ladder. We are increadibly thankful for the staff of Crystal Cruise for saving our lives. Speaking for both we are both very happy to be alive and safe, but at the same time very dissapointed our adventure had to end so abruptly, especially considering we were doing so well in the race. After all our lives are the most important thing, no matter how competitive we are…”

The pair were taking part in an Adventure for Purpose – the Atlantic Charity race – in a bid to raise money for the Johan Cruyff Foundation and had been rowing for 8 days before the incident.

We wish the pair a very speedy recovery and best of luck with their donations.

Click here to visit their website and find out how to support their charity.

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