Navy

HMS Oardacious become fastest-ever military team to row 'world's toughest' Atlantic challenge

Watch: Team Oardacious have become the fastest military team to row the Atlantic.

A team of Royal Navy submariners have battled hunger and sleep deprivation to complete the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge – the 'world's toughest row'.

HMS Oardacious were among a record number of entrants who set off from the Canary Islands on 12 December to take on the 3,000-mile rowing challenge.

The submariners arrived at Nelson's Dockyard in English Harbour, Antigua and Barbuda, after completing the challenge in 35 days, 17 hours and 19 minutes.

Family members and friends were ready to greet the submariners after last seeing them at a San Sebastian jetty in La Gomera, Canary Islands more than a month ago.

The team posted their delight at the "ABSOLUTELY INCREDIBLE SCENES!!!!" as the HMS Oardacious crew arrived at Nelson's Dockyard.

HMS Oardacious previously fundraised more than £100,000 in support of mental health initiatives, and this year they continued to build on their legacy working with the Royal Navy and Royal Marines Charity (RNRMC).

HMS Oardacious complete talisker whisky atlantic challenge 17012023 Credit AtlanticCampaigns,PennyBird
Team HMS Oardacious: (l-r) Lieutenant Commander Callum Fraser, Petty Officer Jonathon Norfolk, Lieutenant Thomas Hutchinson and Lieutenant Commander Hugo Mitchell-Heggs.

RNRMC provides mental health and well-being support to its community: serving submariners, veterans and their families through life.

The importance of mental mindfulness had been highlighted by a lot of the crews taking on this dangerous challenge.

HMS Oardacious, who now become the fastest serving military team of all time, to complete the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge, have raised over £50,000 with their efforts this year, via their JustGiving page.

First Sea Lord and Chief of Naval Staff, Admiral Sir Ben Key congratulated the team's "outstanding physical and mental achievement" in a post on Twitter.

He said: "Huge congratulations to HMS Oardacious on an outstanding physical and mental achievement, rowing the Atlantic in 35 days!

"With family and friends waiting on shore, I am certain you will have an incredibly memorable reunion! BZ!".

A record number of entrants have been battling sleep deprivation, hallucinations and hunger, all with the same objective – to take on the unique experience of crossing an ocean in a rowing boat.

This year, setting off from La Gomera there were 43 crews, made up of 127 rowers from 17 countries, with a huge proportion of them from the military.

The first team to finish the challenge and be crowned this year's Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge fastest was Team Ocean Cats.

They crossed the finish line on Friday (13 January) with a time of 31 days, 17 hours and 9 minutes, in the process becoming the first-ever Spanish team to win the rowing event.

Team Atlantic Guardsmen, a team made up of officers and soldiers serving with the Scots Guards, are currently on their final push to make the finish line, battling with numerous issues after earlier in the race capsizing.

In their latest update, they said: "The team have been unable to row with three rowing positions since week two due to the loss and damage of three oars.

"Whilst this doesn't present a major problem in good conditions, this has massively reduced AG's ability to put down power and speed when wind and waves are against them."

The team of Scots Guards continue their push with a makeshift oar blade, "liable to break at any moment" but say it is "all worth it to see family at the other side a day earlier".