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Wednesday, September 23, 1998 Published at 15:47 GMT 16:47 UK


Windsurfers conquer Atlantic

Surf's up: Sailor Robert Territehau after finishing at Weymouth

Windsurfers are celebrating the first crossing of the Atlantic by board.

[ image: Flying high: The journey was completed in relays]
Flying high: The journey was completed in relays
Four teams sailed the 2,200-mile journey from St John's in Newfoundland to Weymouth, Dorset.

During the seven-day race, competitors faced 30ft high waves and winds gusting to 35 knots.

Jason Gilbert, who was part of a three-man European team to complete the journey, said: "The first thing I want to do now is go for a pint.

Jason Gilbert: It was seriously scary at times
"But I want to take part again if the race is on next year and I would like to lead my own UK team."

The 24-year-old warehouseman, from Worthing in West Sussex, only learned he was taking part in the event 18 hours before the start when an Italian windsurfer dropped out after injuring himself during training.

[ image: Jason Gilbert: I want a pint]
Jason Gilbert: I want a pint
His mother, Wendy Strong, 56, said: "I was delighted for him when I heard he was taking part, although of course I was worried.

"I have been in contact with him by satellite phone and he has been in great spirits.

"It has been a chance in a lifetime for him and I am very proud."

Competitors were supported by a group of high speed rescue boats and a mother ship, the Russian ice-breaker Kapitan Khlebnikov.

[ image: Windsurfers had to cope with waves up to 30ft high]
Windsurfers had to cope with waves up to 30ft high
Safety considerations restricted sailing to 10 hours a day.

Jason, who has been windsurfing since he was 14, said: "Most of the time I coped well with the difficult conditions but on one of the days I had to be rescued.

"There were huge waves and 30-knot winds and I began to drop about seven miles back behind the ship.

"I was taken on board the mother ship where I rested and made a full recovery."

[ image: Winded: An exhausted sailor takes a rest]
Winded: An exhausted sailor takes a rest
With sea temperatures dropping to just four degrees Celsius in places, organisers were relieved to see the race end with just one mild case of hypothermia.

Four teams took part, with each competitor taking a three-hour stint on their boards before a fellow racer took over.

The four entries were a three-man team from Greece, the Liberty team made up of two Swedes and a Frenchman, a three-man European team and a four-strong USA team including the only female racer.

Liberty won the race, followed by the Greek team, Europe and USA.

[ image: Robert Territehau of the Liberty team and Micah Buzianis of the Greek team arrive at Weymouth]
Robert Territehau of the Liberty team and Micah Buzianis of the Greek team arrive at Weymouth
Organising spokesman Julian Yeomans said: "They have done tremendously well, and faced difficult conditions which were the backwash of the recent hurricanes that have hit the USA.

"It took a great deal of planning and thankfully we have got through it all without any injuries or significant equipment failures.

The original plan was to cross from New York to Les Sables d'Olonnes on the west coast of France.

"But at the last minute we found there were ice floes on that route, so we had change our plans."

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