Transatlantic Row 2014 - New York to Isles of Scilly

Precious Lives Atlantic Challenge - A new world record


They're home with a new world record

Wednesday, 6th August 2014

They're home with a new world recordThey’re Home! Precious Lives Atlantic Challenge rows into the history books As Ocean rowers, Chris Walters and Elliott Dale, set foot on the quay steps at St Marys Harbour on the Isles of Scilly this morning they have set a new world record for crossing the Atlantic in a modern ‘open class’ pairs boat. The intrepid duo have rowed 3246 miles from New York to the Isles of Scilly over the last 60 days, raising money for Children’s Hospice South West (CHSW) and have now set a new modern record for this journey.

Only the second pairs rowing team ever to cross the Atlantic on this difficult route, Chris and Elliott have achieved a momentous milestone in rowing history. In their Rannoch pairs boat, Row 4 Precious Lives, the duo have battled the most atrocious weather conditions to arrive at St Mary’s in the Isles of Scilly at 10.34 GMT on 6th August 2014 after an incredible 60 days, one hour and 6 minutes at sea.  

The rowers were joined on their final few miles into the harbour by a flotilla of local boats including amongst others the St Marys lifeboat and St Mary’s and Lyme Regis gig clubs. Once in sight of the harbour they were serenaded in by Frank Sinatra’s ‘New York’. Greeted first by Dale Clark the Harbour Master and then by family members, the project team, staff and trustees from Children’s Hospice South West as well as crowds of spectators, Chris and Elliott certainly received a very warm welcome back to dry land.

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Precious Lives Atlantic Challenge Blog

The Challenge

Experienced ocean rowers, Elliott Dale and Chris 'Darby' Walters set off on Saturday, 7th June at 9.28am (GMT) from New York on their epic transatlantic rowing challenge, across one of the most unpredictable and dangerous oceans.  Elliott and Chris are on course to set a new record for crossing the Atlantic in a modern open class pairs boat. Raising money for Children’s Hospice South West, this incredible duo have battled with 40 foot high waves, the tail end of Hurricane Arthur, near misses with whales and cargo ships, not to mention blistering heat, hallucinations and cut hands - yet they are doggedly rowing on. 

This is a huge physical and emotional challenge for the men. Yet even in the depths of their hardship they have never lost touch with their motivation - helping to raise funds for Children’s Hospice South West (CHSW). In their regular updates from the boat, Chris said: ‘Despite how tough this journey has been so far, our thoughts still turn to the families and children at Children’s Hospice South West. Our journey has an end in sight when we can go home, relax and enjoy life again. Their story has a very different ending.

"Anyone that rows an ocean has my utmost respect, but to go out there a second time to chase an historic record for such a worthy cause demands more than this. I wish Elliott and Chris all the best with their adventure and know it will inspire many people and help our precious children."
Charlie Pitcher, Ocean Rower
Broke Guinness World Record: Fastest Solo Crossing of the Atlantic in a Rowing Boat

Rowing more than 3,000 miles across the Atlantic Ocean

Precious Lives Atlantic Challenge set off from New York on Saturday, 7th June hoping to follow in the footsteps of the historic rowing pair, George Harbo and Frank Samuelson who crossed the Atlantic in just 55 days back in 1896. The route from New York to the Isles of Scilly is considered to be the hardest route to cross the Atlantic, and Chris and Eliott will be only the second pair in the world ever to have achieved this incredible row. 

Now Chris and Elliott are headed for dry land. And although indications show that they will not beat the 55 day historic ocean rowing record (which would mean returning late on 1st August), they will, on arrival to St Mary’s Harbour, Isles of Scilly, row into the ocean rowing record books by setting the fastest time for a pair of rowers from New York to the Scilly Isles in an open class rowing boat!

If weather conditions allow, the intrepid rowers hope to reach the Isles of Scilly, near Cornwall early on the 5th August. One person who can relate to their experience is Brian Fletcher, project manager of the Precious Lives Atlantic Challenge. A seasoned ocean rower himself having taken part in the Talisker Atlantic Challenge – the toughest rowing race in the world – Brian is in constant contact with the rowers and said: ‘They have crossed the half way mark but this is when the challenge really starts to tell on them. You are physically exhausted, missing home and having been continually damp for over a month with no skin left on your hands, it’s hard to remain motivated.  

Chris and Elliott are demonstrating a remarkable courage and determination to succeed despite all that the elements have decided to throw at them. As there are just two of them it makes it not just harder physically, but also mentally too. As they spend no time together – as one sleeps, the other one rows – they cannot support one another and it can be an extremely lonely time.  I admire their courage wholeheartedly and you cannot help but be in awe of this incredible feat.’

The Rowers

Chris 'Darby' Walters and Elliott Dale, Experienced British Ocean Rowers

Two Cornish Pilot Gig Association Ocean Rowers, Chris 'Darby' Walters and Elliott Dale, both aged 55, set off from New York on the 7th June 2014 to row their boat ‘Row 4 Precious Lives’ 3,246 nautical miles from New York to the Isles of Scilly.

Elliott Dale and Chris Walters - Our Rowers

Darby and Elliott, with two friends from Lyme Regis, The Corinthians, with a combined age of 226 years completed the 3,000 mile ocean row from La Gomera to Barbados in 48 days, 8 hours and 3 minutes in the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge 2011/2012. Tony Short, who turned 67 during the crossing, is the oldest man to row The Atlantic. 

Rowing for Precious Lives

Chris ‘Darby’ Walters and Elliott Dale visited Little Bridge House, one of Children’s Hospice South West’s three hospices, in February 2013. They were so moved by the journey of the children and families supported by the hospice that they decided to embark on their own journey of endurance, choosing to undertake one of the toughest rowing challenges, whilst raising valuable funds and awareness that will help to make the most of short and precious lives across the South West.

The challenge has already raised over £100,000 in donations for CHSW. The charity has three hospices at in Cornwall, Devon and Somerset and provides care and support to families of children with life-limiting illnesses across the South West.

Why the Precious Lives Atlantic Challenge?

Supporting Children's Hospice South West

Darby and Elliott visited Little Bridge House in North Devon, one of Children’s Hospice South Wests’s three hospices.

They were so moved and inspired by the journey of the children and families who find support within the hospices they decided to take on this challenge to raise essential funds and awareness of this regional charity that helps to ‘making the most of short and precious lives’.

Chris 'Darby' Walters, Rower:

"It is so inspiring when you go to the hospice and see the staff and the care provided, you couldn’t do anything but leave there and want to help… visiting the hospice has galvanised for us why we are doing this challenge."

Children’s Hospice South West has three hospices across the South West, caring for in excess of 400 life-limited children and their families. We support the whole family, providing palliative, emergency and respite care, giving a rare opportunity for the whole family to have time together or to rest and have a break from the considerable demands of their individual journeys. We are also there to provide end of life care and bereavement support, helping families as they deal with the death of their child.

By creating a homely, loving sanctuary at each of our hospices, the children, Mums, Dads, brothers and sisters can find the time and space to be together and to have fun without the worry of caring. The comfort and dignity of the children are key priorities and all of the care we provide is agreed with the family, with every consideration given to how they want us to care for theirchild.Children’s Hospice South West has a simple goal: to make the most of short and precious lives.

After visiting Little Bridge House and meeting the children and families Darby and Elliott feel they can now put their own journey into perspective: describing their Atlantic Challenge as 'nothing in comparison'.  Watch this amazing video and listen to Darby and Elliott talk about the challenge and their reasons for taking on the unpredictable North Atlantic Ocean.