This team of intrepid adventurers just rowed from Portugal to Venezuela in 50 days

Team Essence have paddled into the World Record books for rowing from continent to continent in 50 days

They’ve dubbed it the ‘Real Atlantic Crossing’. Yes, none of this namby-pamby, Canary Islands to Antigua malarky. Team Essence have crossed from one continental land mass to another, rowing from Portugal all the way to Venezuela, some 500 miles further than the usual transatlantic rowing route.

The team spent 50 days making the crossing |

The team spent 50 days making the crossing |

Having set off from Lagos, Portugal on February 7, the team of five amateur rowers spent 50 days rowing the 3,308 nautical miles (3,807 miles) to the north coast of Venezuela before landing on 29 March. It’s a feat that has landed them in the record books not just once, but twice. They are the first team to row the Atlantic unsupported from East to West, continent to continent non-stop, and also the first to row unsupported across the Atlantic from mainland Europe to mainland South America.

The team rowed for 24 hours a day (rotating through two-hour shifts) to reach their destination, facing blazing mid-day heat, 20 foot waves, 30 knot winds and inquisitive sharks along their way. If that wasn’t hard enough, they did it entirely unsupported, in a 8.5 metres x 1.2 metres carbon fibre rowing boat. No back up engine, no life raft. Just five men and several weeks’ worth of supplies.

Their vessel: a

Their vessel: an 8.5 metre x 1.2 metre carbon fibre boat named Ellida |

And did we mention they are amateurs? Okay, admittedly they are super-fit ones. The group is led by 37-year-old Mathew Bennet, Military Policeman turned financial trader turned intrepid adventurer. His recruits are Oliver Bailey, who also has a background in finance, former Royal Marine Jason Fox (also a star of Channel 4’s SAS: Who Dares Wins), safety services provider Aldo Kane and investment banker Ross Johnson.

Along with the rowing itself, challenges came in the form of septic blisters, saltwater sores and chronic back pain, along with sleep deprivation (“I have only slept a maximum of 1hr 45min per sitting for the last month” writes Jason Fox). With two poorly ventilated cabins, their beds were soaked with saltwater and condensation, and their rests marred by lack of oxygen.

One particularly testing moment came when their boat, Ellida, was capsized 180° by a gigantic wave. “I found myself under water unable to breath but remarkably still holding onto a fabric line I caught as I flew over board.” describes Oliver Bailer in his blog. “Mustering all my strength I wasn’t prepared to let go to the one connection to the boat. If I had I could have been swept away in moments. Instead I pulled myself up to the light where Ross Johnson pulled me up and we all climbed back onto a a severely listing Ellida and went into automatic safety mode.”

Selfie time |

Selfie time |

The team had aimed to complete the journey in 46 days, but following stints of  bad weather they reached their destination in a time of 50 days, 10 hrs 36 mins, raising over £120k for the NSPCC in the process.

“We have crossed an ocean using manpower only, via a passage that no vessel our size has ever voyaged along before. We are five normal men, five amateurs, all experiencing the same hopes and fears along our journey as anyone following our story would in our situation,” said Oliver Bailey.