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Last Updated: Sunday, 8 August, 2004, 15:28 GMT 16:28 UK
Rescued rowers 'glad to be alive'
Rescue of Pink Lady crew
The Pink Lady crew's life raft reaches the rescue vessel
Four Britons trying to break a world Atlantic rowing record have been rescued after storms split their boat - the Pink Lady - in two.

A Danish vessel picked up the men, who were adrift about 300 miles west of the Isles of Scilly on Sunday.

Jonathan Gornall, one of the crew members, said they were "very happy to be alive" and looking forward to going home to Britain.

The crew left Canada on 30 June and planned to beat the 55-day record.

"We were on sea anchor because it was impossible to row in those conditions. We were going to get through the night, the weather was going to moderate.

We got out, everyone's fine, everyone's happy to be alive and heading home to their loved ones
Jonathan Gornall

"Unfortunately one of those rogue waves caught us with catastrophic results," Mr Gornall told BBC News 24.

"You take on nature and you take what she delivers - and on this occasion she dealt us a killer blow," he added.

"We got out, everyone's fine, everyone's happy to be alive and heading home to their loved ones," he said.

A rescue helicopter was sent from RAF Chivenor in north Devon to recover the men, but it was later turned back because of potentially dangerous weather conditions.

The men are still on board the Scandinavian Reefer, which is heading to the port of Foynes on the Irish west coast and is due to arrive on Monday morning.

Mr Gornall thanked the skipper and crew of the Danish vessel, who, he said, made them feel "very welcome".

THE PINK LADY'S CHALLENGE
Pink Lady
Previous 55-day record set by Norwegians in 1896
Pink Lady at sea for 39 days since setting off
Team aiming to raise 50,000 for British Heart Foundation
Boat was sponsored by Pink Lady apples
Crew rowing virtually non-stop in alternating pairs
Trip ended 350 miles from Falmouth, Cornwall
The marine emergency service had initially picked up a signal from the boat's radio beacon which was washed into the sea.

Coastguard Mark Clark, who spoke to the crew before they were picked up by the vessel, told the BBC the men were "a lot more chipper" after finding out help was on its way.

One of the rowers was suffering from hypothermia while another was suffering "slight concussion" after "taking a knock to the head".

Neither required immediate hospital treatment.

Mr Clark said communication had earlier been established via satellite, so rescue boats could find the rowers' exact location.

The marine emergency service was alerted to the crew's plight at just after 0230 BST on Sunday.

All four men - who are led by skipper Mark Stubbs of Poole, Dorset - escaped to the life raft.

The rowers set out 39 days ago to break a record first set in 1896 and were warned they could face their fiercest storms yet this weekend.

They set off from Newfoundland in Canada on course for Falmouth in Cornwall.

The four had just recovered from rough seas that set off their emergency Mayday beacon.

Location of Pink Lady
The rowers were 300 miles off the Isles of Scilly when the boat split
They also encountered a freak wave during their bid to row 2,100 miles (3,380km) from Canada to Britain.

Recent bad weather set off the team's Emergency Position Indicating Beacon while their carbon-fibre boat, was at anchor.

They were recently forced to go 45 miles (73km) out of their way to avoid heavy storms, while in the first days of the challenge they encountered twice as many icebergs as usual off the Canadian coastline.

Firefighter Mark Stubbs, 40, from Poole; ex-SAS diver Peter Bray, 48, from Bridgend; journalist Jonathan Gornall, 48, from London; and digital mapping specialist John Wills, 33, from Farnham, had been battling to pass Bishop's Rock Lighthouse.

The trip had been designed to raise 50,000 for the British Heart Foundation.




WATCH AND LISTEN
The BBC's Daniel Boettcher
"The families of the rowers were woken in the early hours"



SEE ALSO:
Rowers' rough sea Mayday alert
05 Aug 04  |  England
Ocean rowing team dodges storms
23 Jul 04  |  Dorset
Ocean rowers face huge icebergs
04 Jul 04  |  England


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