Bolton Atlantic challenge rowing team in 6th place as they battle cyclones and high seas

This Is Lancashire: From left, Mark Brocklehurst, Finn Christo, Matt Nuttall and Nick Griffiths From left, Mark Brocklehurst, Finn Christo, Matt Nuttall and Nick Griffiths

THE crew of Bolton’s Atlantic Challenge is just two weeks into the world’s toughest rowing race and already they have battled cyclones and high seas.

But despite the horrendous conditions, Bolton’s four-man team, which is raising money for Bolton Lads and Girls Club, is leading the four-man boat race.

The Talisker Whiskey Atlantic Challenge is a charity race across the Atlantic and Mark Brocklehurst, aged 52, Matt Nuttall, aged 44, Nick Griffiths, aged 42, and Finn Christo, aged 32, took to the seas for an estimated seven-week voyage to Antigua earlier this month.

The team is racing against 17 teams from around the world to raise £250,000 to aid a Junior Mentoring Project for Bolton Lads and Girls Club.

They are hoping to finish the 3,000-mile race before January 16 — but a five-day run of severe weather left their ao.com boat “like a cork on a string”.

But now safely past the cyclonic winds, the team is currently sixth — and was leading the four-man boats yesterday.

They slipped into second in their class this morning.

Mr Brocklehurst said: “It’s going well so far. The first day was fine and then we ran into some bad weather.

“We got stuck in a cyclonic wind weather system that was very difficult with high winds and strong seas. We had to go five days sitting on a power anchor, which was really uncomfortable.

“There are four of us in the cabin, which is no bigger than a dining room table — it’s very hot and not that much air, so it is very uncomfortable at times.”

Thankfully, the team has come through the bad weather and are pushing south.

Mr Brocklehurst said: “It was very scary at times. The boat was getting bounced around all over the place. We thought the rope was going to snap it was so bad.”

The four men, who are about 350 miles south west of the Canary Islands, enjoyed their first call home on Sunday using their satellite telephone.

Mr Brocklehurst said: “We’re not thinking too much about missing Christmas at the moment because we are all on boat time — one minute we’re rowing, the next we’re cooking. Routine is our friend.

“I think it’s going to be a bit longer than we first thought. I think we’ll be done the third week in January so no one is going to be breaking any records because of the bad weather.

“It’s strange. All we can see is water. There’s nothing else. But you get used to it. We’ve got our own coping mechanisms.

“It’s team work. We have just spent two hours boiling a kettle to have some hot food for the first time since we started, but it was worth it. We’re definitely missing having hot drinks, showers and being able to sit down without being uncomfort-able.”

Track the team’s progress online at taliskerwhiskyatlanticchallenge.com.

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