TWO county ocean rowers are around 100 miles from completing their epic 2,800-mile Pacific crossing from California to Hawaii.
And after facing turbulent seas, raging winds and exhaustion rowing across some of the deepest waters in the world, the end is almost in sight.
They lost five days waiting for the seas to calm enough to replace a missing rudder on their 28-ft long Voyager boat early in the row, which started on June 12 in Monterey Harbour, and then trailed the rest of the surviving 13-boat fleet, which have all already finished the ‘World’s Toughest Row: Pacific’.
Hampshire crew mate Andy Warner posted in a blog on Saturday that he was boosted when Emerson Lake and Palmer’s version of ‘Fanfare for the Common Man’ blared out on his iTunes “when I was (rowing) on the 1am to 3am shift with my sea sister Elaine”.
“Energy levels were very low for the both of us last night, at the end of the two hours we were both vaguely just limply throwing the oars at the water.
“Big up ELP... TFF are nearly there. Our team motto is “if you can’t come first... come last”, key to a successful relationship as well, eh?”
Elaine, who first took up rowing at Monmouth Rowing Club and celebrated her 60th birthday early in the trip, is bidding to become the oldest woman to row both the Pacific and Atlantic oceans, having crossed the latter five years ago in a record-breaking three-women crew.
Joining Elaine, Andy, skipper Ali Wannell from Devon and Neil Blackeby from Cornwall, Huw was the only ocean novice at the start of the campaign.
And Andy also posted: “I’ll say a few words about Huw as he is sitting in front of me rowing at present.
“As our newbie, Huw is doing brilliantly, eats like a horse mind you, oils to keep him fit more than a day, so a little over a year ago he had never heard of this race and here he is absolutely rocking the Pacific and it’s many, many, many challenges.
“Doffs one’s cap to Huw. Topics discussed; fav pies, steak and kidney featured there along with Ali’s chicken and chorizo pie, that’s Ali swimming against the tide there and going her own way.
“Huw and I like ours with Brown sauce, Neil not so, but he is weird!”
Earlier in the row, when they lost their rudder and were faced with having to pull out of the row, it was Huw who finally dived in and managed to replace it.
Andy praised his courage, saying: ““If Huw failed we’d have to retire from the event or at worse initiate a rescue and lose our boat.
“Huw jumped in and worked his way around to the back, and wrestled with it, but couldn’t quite get the rudder to vertical.
“But after five minutes of wrestling, the rudder popped in.
“Staying with it and getting the job done, when you have the stern of a two-tonne boat bouncing six feet up and down in swelling seas... immense.”
He has also posted how mountainous seas have been “an assault on the senses”, battering them with “freight train waves”.
“Another side winder bashed the side of the boat whipping the oar with it, throwing me off the seat (again) and pinning me against the safety lines,” he said.
But they’ve also seen some amazing things, such as a flying fish going “clean over the boat”, “Elon Musk’s sky link satellites go over all in a row”, a whale, a Sun Fish, a porpoise and a pod of dolphins.
Their arrival in Hawaii later this week is set to be live-streamed, go to https://www.facebook.com/worldstoughestrow for updates and to watch.