AFTER 50 days at sea, two Islanders hope to complete a trans-Atlantic rowing challenge within the next week.
Peter Wright and Steve Hayes are closing in on the finish line of the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge in Antigua, having overcome some tough conditions so far.
Mr Wright’s wife, Rachel, who has been following the race from Jersey with the couple’s children, Josh (16) and Layla (12), said that although the conditions had slowed the pair’s progress, they were hoping for an improvement during the race’s final stretch.
‘They’ve been so frustrated with the weather, and seem to have been finishing “next week” for the last few weeks,’ she said. ‘The tracker for their finish time has been based on the progress they’ve been making, but we hope to get a clearer picture by Friday.’
A total of 27 crews had completed the race by yesterday morning, with another 16 still competing and DragonFish lying in 33rd position overall, and second in the open-pair class. Yesterday afternoon the duo had just under 240 miles remaining of the 3,000-mile challenge.
Last weekend Mr Wright and Mr Hayes had a tantalising glimpse of how the other half live as the luxury P&O cruise ship Ventura stopped alongside for a mid-ocean chat.
Mr Hayes said that when Ventura originally appeared on the radar, the two boats made radio contact to check they weren’t going to collide with each other, but that this had turned into a 45-minute conversation.
Speaking on social media, he said: ‘They actually altered their course to come alongside us, and although they were still a nautical mile away, they were honking their horn and relaying the information to passengers, which has brought some great interaction on social media and also some donations for our charity.
‘Hopefully we may get to meet some of the crew when they come to the Channel Islands in the summer – we said we’d try to keep in touch as it was a real high-point of the trip.’
While the 3,000 passengers on board Ventura are enjoying luxury cabins, cordon bleu cuisine and the liner’s on-board swimming pool, the Jersey duo have been subsisting on dried food, snatching short bursts of sleep and using a bucket as a toilet.
What was described on the duo’s Facebook page as ‘a giant blue idiot blob of weather’ slowed down the fleet in recent days, with some of the back-markers making almost zero progress, while DragonFish was reduced to less than 30 miles per day.
Mr Wright, a finance director at Prosperity 24/7, and Mr Hayes, general manager at the Somerville Hotel, have had to battle with flying fish and a series of technical hitches during their crossing.
The duo raised around £120,000 to take part in the event, with some of the money funding their boat, which cost £25,000. They are seeking to raise £50,000 for the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust and cancer charity Macmillan Jersey.
lDonations can be made at dragonfishrow.com.