Belfast Telegraph

Friday 22 August 2014

Ship rushes to save six oarsmen drifting on life raft

A cargo ship was rushing to the rescue of a champion Irish rower and five UK oarsmen early this morning adrift on a life raft in the North Atlantic after their rowboat capsized.

Aodhan Kelly, (26), from Dublin, is among the crew taking part in the "Atlantic Odyssey" rowing expedition from Morocco to Barbados in the Caribbean.

They were 27 days into their 30-day journey when their 36-foot vessel, 'Sara G' overturned yesterday morning. Their last known location was 520 nautical miles east of Barbados.

The alarm was raised around 11am yesterday when their EPIRB (Emergency Position-Indicating Radio Beacon) was activated to signal a distress call.

Falmouth Coastguard in Cornwall contacted a shore marshall who was able to reach the crew by a satellite phone and learned the crew were safe and not in any immediate peril.

Their life raft is tethered to the stricken rowboat.

The rescue bid was turned over to the coast guard in Fort-De-France, Martinique last night which was able to direct a Panamanian cargo ship to the area. She was expected to reach the stricken vessel this morning.

Another merchant chip, the 'Naparima' was also expected to arrive at the scene around 4:30am today.

A blog posted late last night on the expedition's website said: "Earlier today the Sara G capsized. While information is scarce at the moment, the crew have managed to contact their shore contact. All crew are said to be safe and well, and tethered to the Sara G in a life raft."

The crew are named on their website as Captain Matt Craughwell, Ian Rowe, (45), Aodhan Kelly (26) from Dublin, Simon Brown, (37), Yaacov Mutnikas and Mark Beaumont, (29).

The website states that they were rowing from Tarfaya in Morocco to Port St Charles in Barbados to become "the first crew in history to break the sub-30-day barrier, calling it "ocean rowing's very own four-minute mile".

Writing on their blog yesterday, Mr Craughwell said the boat was struggling to make headway because of "no wind and swells from every direction".

Mr Kelly is the youngest member of the crew and has won several Irish National championships for the Neptune Rowing Club based in Islandbridge, Dublin. He also represented Ireland at the Junior and Under-23 World Championships and Rowing World Cup.

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