Sunday, December 30, 2007

Record row

Four Australian rowers on Sunday completed an epic journey from New Zealand to Sydney after surviving huge seas, encounters with sharks and whales and near-misses with ships.

The two men and two women left Hokianga Harbour, north of Auckland on November 29 and arrived at Sydney's Neutral Bay at about 8:15 am on Sunday (2115 GMT Saturday) to become the first Australians to row across the Tasman.

Steven Gates, Andrew Johnson, Kerry Tozer and surfboat champion Sally Macready appeared fit and well after their 31-day, 2,000 kilometre (1,240 miles) journey. Gates said he felt "absolute euphoria" as their custom-made 11.1-metre craft entered Sydney Harbour.

"We were beyond the point of exhaustion, we really were," he told reporters. "We pushed that envelope to its absolute limit and to hit the (Sydney) heads this morning at four o'clock and to know that this was all going to be over really soon was just the most powerful feeling."

The foursome battled severe weather, came into close range of sharks, whales and dolphins and narrowly missed colliding with ships, he said.

"There were some really nasty storms and some really lucky incidents with ships where they hadn't seen us. They were coming for us and if it wasn't for Sal seeing them, identifying them coming towards us, grabbing the spotlight and sticking it in their eyes, we probably wouldn't be here."

About 40 people met the crew, which was a little unsteady after so long at sea, as they arrived at Neutral Bay wharf.

"My legs aren't feeling too bad, it's just after being at sea for that long I've sort of got off and it's like you're very drunk, so I find it hard to be balanced at the moment so it's almost like when we were seasick on the first few days," Macready said.

Macready said the team's main concern was to cross the Tasman safely, particularly as lone kayaker Andrew McAuley perished on his Australia to New Zealand journey a year ago. "For us it was really just to get across, but it's a bonus always to get a record," she said.

New Zealander Colin Quincy rowed across the Tasman in 1976 in a journey which took more than 67 days.


yellowdog granny said...

wow...that's pretty terrific...better man than me gunga din

dom said...

I rowed in the "Head of the river race" when I was a teen, the same 4 mile course as the "University boat race" and I was knackered for 2 days... no idea how they're feeling!