Four soldiers row 3,000-mile ocean crossing in record-breaking time

An oar-some achievement! Four British soldiers row nearly 3,000 miles across the Atlantic in a record-breaking 41 days

  • Four British soldiers have set a new world record for a 3,000-mile ocean row
  • Captain Scott Pollock, 39, Warrant Officer Victoria Blackburn, 39, Sgt Phillip Welch, 37, and Sgt Laura Barrigan, 29, make up team Force Atlantic
  • The team took exactly 41 days to cross from the Canary Islands to Antigua 

Four British soldiers have set a new world record for the fastest 3,000-mile row across the Atlantic.

Captain Scott Pollock, 39, Warrant Officer Victoria Blackburn, 39, Sgt Phillip Welch, 37, and Sgt Laura Barrigan, 29, all members of the Royal Army Physical Training Corps, completed the crossing from La Gomera in the Canary Islands to English Harbour, Antigua. 

The mixed team, called Force Atlantic, finished the journey on Saturday in 41 days exactly, beating the previous record by a whopping 33 hours. 

Left to right: Captain Scott Pollock, Sergeant Laura Barrigan, Staff Sergeant Phillip Welch and Warrant Officer Class 1 Victoria Blackburn celebrate their record time

The mixed team, called Force Atlantic, finished the journey on Saturday in 41 days exactly, beating the previous record by a whopping 33 hours

They had around three hours sleep every night for 41 days but still managed to beat the world record

The Force Atlantic team were representing the Royal Army Physical Training Corps

The team have chosen to support The Royal British Legion as their chosen charity

The four soldiers rowed to highlight the opportunities available to everyone in the Army

They were racing against 34 other teams that were taking part in the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge

The challenge is a journey thousands of miles across the Atlantic Ocean, which typically takes more than a month to complete

More people have summited Mount Everest than have successfully rowed the Atlantic

They were racing against 34 other teams that were taking part in the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge.

Rowing the world’s second largest ocean is acknowledged as the ultimate endurance race. 

More people have summited Mount Everest than have successfully rowed the Atlantic.

Capt Pollock said the team enjoyed seeing a variety of ocean wildlife, although he admitted the voyage had been tough to handle. 

Force Atlantic arriving in English Harbour, Antigua, more than a month after they set off in December

The mixed Army team ventured on a training trip to St Kilda, Scotland, in preparation for their row

The brave team completed the challenge in a 7m long rowing boat, unsupported through the entire crossing

‘The sleep deprivation is probably the biggest challenge,’ he told the Express.

‘We’ve been getting about three hours sleep every night for the last 40 nights and that is hard to get over.’

The team had set off in December and were raising money for the Royal British Legion. 

It is the country’s largest Armed Forces charity, with 235,000 members, 110,000 volunteers and a network of partners and charities helping members of the Royal Navy, British Army, Royal Air Force, veterans and their families. 

Three British women, one of whom has incurable cancer, also shattered the women’s world record for the same challenge.

Kat Cordiner, 42, who has secondary ovarian cancer, and teammates Abby Johnston, 32, and Charlotte Irving, 31, arrived in Antigua on Sunday evening.

The women completed the crossing in 42 days, seven hours and 17 minutes, knocking an astonishing seven days off the female trio record in the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge.

Kat Cordiner, 42, (right) who has secondary ovarian cancer, and teammates Abby Johnston, 32, (left) and Charlotte Irving, 31, (centre) arrived in Antigua on Sunday evening

Doctors spotted Ms Cordiner (pictured) had diagnosed with cervical cancer in March 2019, while she was having her eggs harvested in the hope of having a baby in the future

The women were given an emotional dockside welcome by family and friends who had flown out to celebrate with them.  

As they stepped onto land for the first time since December 12, they said they felt ‘wobbly, overwhelmed and happy’.

It is thought Ms Cordiner is the first person to tackle this challenge as a cancer patient.

The women were raising money for Cancer Research UK, Macmillan Cancer Support and The Royal Marsden Cancer Charity.

The trio were on a 25ft boat called Dolly Parton and rowed two hours on and two hours off continuously and unsupported.

When they set off, Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, sent them a hand-written good luck message wishing them ‘fair winds and following seas’.

During their epic trip they experienced scorching heat, enormous night-time waves, sleep deprivation, blisters and calluses on their hands, and sharks trailing their small boat.

However, they got through with sheer determination and making their own entertainment.

Doctors spotted Ms Cordiner had diagnosed with cervical cancer in March 2019, while she was having her eggs harvested in the hope of having a baby in the future.

She was ‘distraught’, although she said she was more upset about not being able to carry a child than she was about the cancer.

Kat underwent a radical hysterectomy but doctors left her ovaries as she wanted to do another round of egg-freezing. Once her eggs were harvested, she had her ovaries removed.

After the surgery, all seemed well. Yet in June 2020, she began experiencing stomach pains and knew instantly the cancer was back.

Ms Cordiner worried that going back into treatment would scupper the crew’s chances of taking part in the Atlantic Row.

The women completed the crossing in 42 days, seven hours and 17 minutes, knocking an astonishing seven days off the female trio record

Yet despite training through chemotherapy, doctors found a growth on her heart and told her to stop exercising immediately.

Her medical team treated the cancer first and then operated on her heart to remove the tumour.

She was treated with carboplatin, paclitaxel, and targeted therapy drug avastin, as well as six sessions of radiotherapy. 

After exhausting intensive cancer treatment, heart surgery and six months without training, she got back in the boat.

She said: ‘It floored me a bit initially and more than anything I was peeved because I couldn’t exercise. But when I got back in the boat, I was quite strong – I knew I could do it!’

The 42-year-old is now in remission and only taking drugs to deal with the effects of being plunged into an early menopause.

She said: ‘The doctors have told me I don’t have decades, I have years, so I really want to make the most of them. I don’t want to muck around doing stuff that doesn’t matter – I want to do things that are challenging and fun.’

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