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Storm-hit UK rowers await rescue

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Sarah Outen has been forced to call off her attempt to row across the Pacific

Sarah Outen has been forced to call off her attempt to row across the Pacific

Sarah Outen has been forced to call off her attempt to row across the Pacific

Two British sailors have abandoned attempts to row across the Pacific Ocean and are awaiting rescue after being hit by a tropical storm.

Sarah Outen and Charlie Martell, who were separately attempting to row from Japan to the United States, have both made mayday distress calls and are waiting for the Japanese coastguard to pick them up, the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) said.

Ms Outen, 26, whose Pacific row was part of a round-the-world bike and boat expedition, sent a distress signal at 2.04am from her boat Gulliver, the MCA said.

Seven hours later, Territorial Army Lieutenant Martell, 41, also made a distress call when winds of up to 50 knots and waves of more than 50ft caused his boat to capsize several times, damaging the vessel, a spokesman said.

The signals from their British-registered EPIRBs (Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacons) were tracked by Falmouth Coastguard in Cornwall and were then passed to the Japanese coastguard which is now co-ordinating the rescue.

Ms Outen, from Rutland, is "safe and doing well", according to a post on her website.

"While on her solo row across the North Pacific Ocean, Sarah has been hit by the Tropical Storm Mawar and her boat, Gulliver, has rolled on several occasions," it said. "The boat has been damaged, the extent of which is as yet unknown. The team has however spoken to Sarah and she is safe and doing well."

A spokesman for Lt Martell had been at sea for 34 days and was 700 miles from Japan when the storm damaged his boat.

"The structural damage to one of the boat's main bulkheads occurred when the boat was 'pitch-poled' - turned on its end - before landing upside-down on its deck," he said. "It's the most dangerous form of capsize a boat can experience, owing to the forces involved and speed of events."

He added that the former Royal Engineer and current TA officer, son of the maker of Stinking Bishop cheese, is "exhausted while the storm continues and emotional at having to bring the crossing to an early close".

PA