Four female rowers have been rescued from the Atlantic Ocean after their boat capsized, leaving them stranded miles from land without their oars or a navigation system.
The UK Coastguard received a distress signal from the British crew just after 9am on Saturday morning, but officials said they were “an extremely long way from land with no other vessels in the immediate vicinity”.
Two vessels headed to the area – but the nearest ship was 90 nautical miles away and took 11 hours to reach the rowers.
Gemma Chalk, Clare Lanyon, Jane McIntosh and Olivia Wilson have now abandoned their charity attempt to break the female speed record for rowing from Gran Canaria to Barbados – which is 45 days, 15 hours and 26 minutes.
They had begun their attempt on 26 January and were raising money for Barnardo’s and the Forces Children’s Trust.
The crew told the coastguard their boat had capsized several times approximately 400 nautical miles (460 miles) from Cape Verde – the island archipelago off the coast of northwest Africa.
Ian Guy, duty controller for the UK Coastguard, said: “This shows you how important it is to be prepared for your voyage and have several means of contacting the Coastguard or raising an alarm, even if you are not in UK waters.
“Thankfully, the rowers are now on board the bulk carrier and all are reported to be well.”
In a statement, a spokesperson for the crew added: “Following damage to the Fire Ant caused during a capsize incident yesterday, and after discussions with shore support and the UK Coastguard, the girls have decided it is unwise to continue with their attempt to row across the Atlantic Ocean.”