A Barbadian duo is set to make history as the first Caribbean team to ever compete in the Atlantic Rowing Challenge since its 1997 inception. Phil Als and Randal Vasquez are among a field of 19 teams representing territories such as South Africa, Belgium, New Zealand, France and England attempting to row approximately 3,000 nautical miles from La Gomera of the Canary Islands, to Port St. Charles, Barbados.
On October 19, 2003, Als and Vasquez will begin their voyage in a tiny rowboat, a vessel built in Barbados by Barbadians based on a generic design to be used by all 19 competitors who are bound by equal terms of competition.
The brainchild of legendary yachtsman Sir Chay Blyth`s Challenge Business, The Atlantic Rowing Challenge is a prestigious international event with a lower success rate for competitors than those seeking to climb Mount Everest. “Team Barbados” seeks to beat the current record of 41 days held by New Zealand. Historically, the average team does not complete the race in fewer than 50 days while the slowest time ever clocked was 112 days. Als will also go down in the Ocean Rowing Society Record Books as the first black individual to ever attempt rowing across the Atlantic Ocean.
The Barbados Tourism Authority heavily supports this project which is estimated to cost BDS$200-250,000, as it exemplifies the high level of ambition and determination present in so many of Barbados` male and female athletes. The Barbados Tourism Authority looks forward to greeting this adventurous team at Port St. Charles, in the event of its historic success.
Team manager Shane Thomas spoke of the duo`s excitement and gratitude to all helping to make their dream a reality. “The team is very proud to have received the support from the government of Barbados and, by extension, the Barbados Tourism Authority, as well as the private sector for their contributions in cash and in kind.”
Thomas added that “Team Barbados” really needs the support of the Barbadian public and asked that they pray for the two men as they are putting their lives in danger. “Their safety is heavily dependent on the weather,” commented Thomas. “They also have to watch out for whales, sharks, turtles, squalls and waves which could reach up to three stories high.”
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