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'Like Rowing Through Treacle': Veterans Describe Challenges Of Atlantic Row

Their 3,000-mile journey across the Atlantic Ocean began in the Canary Islands in December.

Serving and ex-serving military personnel are among the 28 teams rowing across the Atlantic Ocean as part of the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge.

25 days ago, teams left from La Gomera in the Canary Islands to begin their 3,000-mile row to the finish line in Antigua. 

Since then, the Atlantic has already shown what a difficult place it can be with teams battling strong winds, huge waves and sea-sickness.

However, some competitors have been lucky enough to witness the beauty of the ocean, coming across whales and dolphins. 

Grandads of the Atlantic before departing on their journey.
Grandads of the Atlantic before departing on their journey.

The oldest team taking part are the Grandads of the Atlantic, both veterans of the Parachute Regiment.

The pair, as their name suggests are Grandads, who are hoping to become the oldest people to ever row across the ocean.

The two veterans have never rowed before and have already faced some difficulties.

"It is exhausting. Two hours on, two hours off, it does take its toll,"  Peter Ketley told Forces News from the Atlantic. 

"Everyday there is something new to sort out, we try to get an hour's sleep in every rest period but that doesn't always work out.

"We're getting into a routine and that's fairly established now and it's going well, we just have to get our heads around the fact we've got longer than expected (to go)."

The sun sets over the Atlantic.
The sun sets over the Atlantic.

Solo rower Tim Crockett, who used to be in the Royal Marine Special Boat Service, is raising money for veterans struggling with PTSD.

Mr Crockett, who's one of the few taking on the challenge on his own, says morale is high despite some rough sea conditions. 

"Given the weather we've had, it's not been great, it's been a hard slog," he explained.

"The weather's dropped out on a couple of occasions and we've been moved around so that obviously affects our arrival time and it makes things a lot harder.

"Currently, it's like rowing through treacle again, so pretty tough.

"Other than that, morale is high, next goal is obviously the halfway point...hopefully reach that within the next six to eight days and then hopefully our weather will be on our backs and we can coast on into Antigua a bit quicker than 37 days." 

Video: Men Of Oar show Forces News how they will be living on the challenge.

Other teams with a military background are also making good progress.

Row 4 Victory, who have serving and ex-serving rowers, is currently 5th although an injury to one crew member forced them to be a man light for a period of time.

Men Of Oar, who also have military roots, are also up to 17th overall despite leaving one day late due to a problem with their boat.

In total, 19 of the rowers taking part are veterans or serving personnel.

The teams' progression across the Atlantic can be seen here.