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Jerseyman battles 50-foot waves and hallucinations on 3,000-mile Atlantic row

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STEPHEN Fry and country ballads have been credited with helping a Jerseyman complete a gruelling 3,000-mile row across the Atlantic Ocean – dubbed the World’s toughest rowing race.

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Rufus Scholefield battled 50-foot waves, hallucinations, dehydration and hunger as he and his three teammates completed the challenge in 36 days, ten hours and 31 minutes.

Mr Scholefield (26) set off from the Canary Islands along with three friends – Charles Crane (25) James Deehan (25) and Lirim Gula (25) – on a 27ft rowing boat on the 12 December before arriving in Nelson’s Dockyard in Antigua at the weekend.

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The team, who called themselves ‘Dorabros’ came fifth overall in the Talisker Atlantic Challenge out of 35 teams which were split into categories of: solo, pairs, trios, fours and fives. The Dorabros came third out of the 15 teams of fours.

As part of a series of endurance challenges, Mr Scholefield has already swum the equivalent of the Channel, completed an Ironman marathon and cycled from Rome to London to raise at least £100,000 for the Teenage Cancer Trust. He set himself that target following the death of his friend last year.

Mr Scholefield said: ‘Initially, two of the guys suffered from severe sea sickness and one injured his foot which developed into an infection quite early on in the race, but once they acclimatised, we really put the hammer down and went for it.’

Among some of the more extraordinary moments was when their boat got picked up by a rogue wave from behind – capsizing the boat at 3am and throwing the four teammates into the sea.

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‘I can’t begin to describe how huge the waves were. When we got picked up by the wave our boat was completely vertical riding down the wave.

‘I think we came across some 50-ft waves along the way.’

Working in strict two-hour shifts throughout the entire journey, the group spent the day listening to country love songs, while at night Mr Scholefield said he managed to get through the entire Harry Potter audiobooks.

‘Stephen Fry’s voice got me across the Atlantic,’ he laughed.

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‘At certain points, I found myself talking to the boat and hearing it talk back,’ he added, describing some of his hallucinations throughout the journey.

Previously Mr Scholefield was part of the GB rowing team that won gold in the International University Sports Federation Rowing World Championships in Shanghai.

Throughout the race, food consisted of dehydrated expedition rations as well as flapjacks, nuts and dried mango.

‘We spent the last seven days of the race talking about nothing else but food,’ the former Victoria College student added.

Describing the moment when they first rowed toward dry land, the Islander said he saw that his dad had managed to break into a fort and fly the Jersey flag up a mast pole – ‘I think he got in quite a lot of trouble for that,’ he added.

Once on dry land and reunited with their friends and family, celebrations included eating his first hot meal in over 36 days – a pizza along with a burger and chips, along with ‘plenty of rum and reggae music’.

To donate, visit JustGiving and search for ‘The Dorabros’.

Krystle Higgins

By Krystle Higgins
Reporter

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