The ORS Int. is the official adjudicator of ocean rowing records for Guinness World Records



Brush with death
– the true cost of rowing an ocean

February 08 2007

By Roger Diss


A BRITISH charity claims it has lost up to £25,000 after a failed ocean rowing bid that almost claimed the lives of two rowers.

Seasoned rowers and seamen, Colin Briggs and Bobby Prentice, capsized 957 miles into their bid to row to Barbados in the 2005 Woodvale Events race from La Gomera.

They were rowing to raise funds for Move Ahead, a charity based in Castleford, West Yorkshire, supporting people with brain damage.

Huddled in their leaking liferaft they were picked up by a yacht and then ordered to jump back into mountainous seas to fend for themselves.

Eventually they were able to scramble aboard a US container ship and taken to Gabon, West Africa, to await repatriation.

But the insurance company refused to pay up on the grounds that organisers, Woodvale Events, had failed to pay the premiums for the entrants in the race.

Move Ahead had to cough up the £2,890 necessary to bring Colin and Bobby back to Britain, shocked and wearing just the clothes they had been given by the crew of their rescuers on the container ship, Potomac.

Patricia Herbert, spokesperson for Move Ahead, said: “We paid Woodvale our share of the insurance bill as part of the £14,000 entry fee for Colin and Bobby to join in the race. Then we had to buy the 27ft boat that was specially designed for the event.

“Altogether we paid out close to £25,000 but we had hoped to get it all back, and much more, through donations from upporters of Colin and Bobby’s valiant effort.

“There’s no hope of that now.”

Woodvale Events has since gone into receivership and Begbies Traynor, the Exeter-based administrator, has told Move Ahead there were no funds available to reimburse the charity for bringing Colin and Bobby home.

Colin, a Thames lighterman who was 60 at the time of the race, and Bobby, 54, a barge master to the Company of Watermen and Lightermen, were left shocked and angry at the disastrous end to their journey.

“We couldn’t believe it when the yacht crew ordered us back into the water,” he said. “And finding out that the insurance cover we had paid for was not valid just about put the lid on it.”

“Besides that, we had lost our para anchor, which would have kept us from capsizing but found out that the support ship provided by Woodvale Events did not carry any spares.

“We were truly gutted that we weren’t able to finish the crossing but even more so by the way Woodvale Events behaved.”