Two novice Shropshire rowers take on ocean challenge
Two Shropshire men have completed an extreme endurance ocean race from Barcelona to Ibiza – despite having no rowing experience.
Two teams of novices, coached by British Olympic rowing gold medalist Mark Hunter, went head to head in the 200-mile challenge, eventually docking yesterday morning exhausted and blistered.
It was the first time that the challenge across the Mediterranean Sea had been attempted and it raised more than £500,000 for The HPV and Anal Cancer Foundation.
The first boat home belonged to Team Danielle, which included Newport's Douglas Love and Phil Shaw, 27.
Both men were drafted in at short notice due to other team members dropping out through injury and sickness, leaving just weeks to train. Each team was made up of five rowers, each doing two hours with the oars on rotation.
The competitors were making good progress until Wednesday when strong winds brought them to almost a standstill.
The race was suspended until yesterday.
And there was drama in the early hours of Tuesday when Mr Love fell overboard while swapping shifts with a teammate.
Mr Love, 41, said: "We were doing the changeover, which takes about 30 seconds.
"The boat just turned suddenly and I found myself in the water.
"Fortunately my teammates were able to drag me back in quickly because I don't think there would've been much chance of finding me at 2am.
"It was only a couple of seconds but it was a bit hairy."
Mr Love had just two weeks to prepare for the challenge after his manager, Pierre Andurand, dropped out.
He said: "He asked me if I would do it and I stupidly say yes. It was a lot tougher than I expected. I did the New York marathon a couple of years ago, but this was worlds apart.
"There was a strong south-easterly wind and the whole of Wednesday we were sat there rowing doing an hour on and hour off and we weren't getting anywhere.
"We were only 35 miles from Ibiza but we just weren't moving. But it was a great experience, a real once in a lifetime.
"I can hardly sit down now and every finger has three blisters."
The challenge was to raise awareness about HPV – the agent that causes five per cent of cancers worldwide – and its connection to men. Hollywood superstar Michael Douglas' throat cancer was caused by HPV.
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