After 35 days of relentless rowing, the victorious Royal Navy Team Oardacious, conquerors of the 2023 World’s Toughest Row, stumbled ashore with wobbly legs to the thunderous sound of ships’ horns, trumpets and an emotional reception.
Their families were there to greet them, with tears of joy and hugs; “ I wasn’t that worried but I did miss my Dad,” said Cameron Forrester, happily reunited with his father.
Leaving the shattered records of previous teams in their wake, this year’s Royal Navy crew stormed into English Harbour, marking an historic triumph as the first team of five to win the World’s Toughest Race, spanning 3,000 miles – as the seagull flies – across the Atlantic Ocean.
Enduring a punishing cycle of 2.5 hours rowing followed by 1.5 hours of restless respite, the team, comprising Matt Main, Rob Clarke, Dan Seager, Ian Allen and novice rower Mike Forrester, executed over 1.5 million strokes each. Amidst fair weather and foul weather, the rowing never ceased. “We felt like it would never end,” they said.
Facing a shaky start with their damaged boat, “Captain Jim,” having to return to Tenerife before reaching La Gomera, the team overcame the odds. Once afloat, they swiftly found their rhythm, proving that their mettle was unbreakable, as recounted by team manager, Rachel.
While the goal was to win the race, the true competition was against the clock of previous Oardacious teams. They not only clinched victory but shattered records, beating last year’s HMS Oardacious’ time of 35 days, 17 hours, and 19 minutes with an astonishing 35 days, 4 hours, 30 minutes. Light winds early on prevented their beating the World Record of 33 days. A challenge for 2024’s HMS Oardacious, expected to be an all-female team!
HMS Oardacious was established in 2019 to provide Mental Health and Wellbeing support to Royal Navy personnel, who face long periods of time away from their homes and families. The charity provides support, too, to RN families.
The Antigua Defence Force welcomed their military brothers with a guard of honour. “We were paying homage to the Royal Navy Team… paying respects to their accomplishment,” said Dwight Matthew of the ABDF, a member of the future ABDF team taking up the challenge.
HMS Oardacious showed that it’s all about resilience, teamwork, and an unyielding spirit of adventure, attributes shared by military teams everywhere.