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Last Updated: Monday, 23 January 2006, 13:32 GMT
Atlantic rescue for two UK rowers
Spirit of Cornwall
The men are safe and well after their ordeal
Two Cornish rowers who capsized in severe weather near the end of the gruelling Atlantic Rowing Race have been saved in an overnight rescue.

Rowers Bob Warren, 40, and Chris Barrett, 41, sent an SOS and took to a life raft after their boat Spirit of Cornwall failed to right itself.

The pair, from the Roseland Gig Club at St Mawes, were rescued 100 miles east of the finish line in Antigua.

They are safe on race support ship Aurora which is heading to Antigua.

They are weary, exhausted and bitterly disappointed, but they are on their feet
Charles Warren

A full-scale rescue was launched by Falmouth Coastguards in Cornwall who received an SOS from an emergency beacon on the boat at 1641 GMT on Sunday.

The men were picked up by the Aurora after a red flare was spotted by rescue vessels, which included UK warship HMS Southampton, at 2230 GMT.

Bob Warren's father Charles told BBC News: "The weather conditions have been the worst for living memory.

"Some boats have reported not seeing the sun for several weeks."

He was waiting to speak to his son on the Aurora where the men were resting after their ordeal.

"They are weary, exhausted and bitterly disappointed, but they are on their feet," he said.

Norma Fowler, from the Spirit of Cornwall team, said: "Both of them are highly experienced in the water - they know and respect it. It's just a disaster for them."

Coastguards who received the alert brought the merchant vessel Rainbow, race support vessel Aurora and HMS Southampton to the area.

At first, the men could not be seen but a red flare was spotted and the life raft located.

Andy Cattrell, watch manager of MRCC Falmouth, said: "This was a prolonged operation with some difficult communications involved.

"The vessels involved are to be commended for their professionalism in carrying out this rescue in darkness and difficult sea conditions."

It is the fourth major rescue during the race, which is organised by Devon-based Woodvale Events.

Spirit of Cornwall
The boat's emergency beacon alerted rescuers
Olympic champion James Cracknell and TV presenter Ben Fogle survived a terrifying capsize en route to a third place finish.

On 17 January a full-scale search and rescue was launched for Moveahead, crewed by Colin Briggs and Bobby Prentice.

Two Irish rowers - Ciaran Lewis and Gearoid Towey - were rescued in their Digital Atlantic Challenge boat.

Teresa Page, spokeswoman from Woodvale, told BBC News: "Everything we do to organise the event is to try to ensure the safety of all the rowers.

"But the weather conditions we've been having this year are very, very, very unusual and unpredicted. "

The race was won by All Relative, a family rowing team from Beer in Devon.

They finished the race more than 800 nautical miles (920 miles) ahead of their nearest rivals.




BBC NEWS: VIDEO AND AUDIO
Hear an interview with one of the rescuers



SEE ALSO:
Irish duo rescued after capsizing
09 Jan 06 |  Northern Ireland


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