THE Coast Girls have been forced to quit GBRow 2013 – the world’s toughest rowing race.
For nearly five days, Sally Kettle and Charlene Ayres in their rowing boat Pendovey Swift, battled against head winds in the Thames estuary – 100 miles from the start of this 2,000-mile race.
After finally making it round the corner into the Dover Strait, they dropped two anchors, four miles north of Ramsgate. But as night fell and the easterly wind picked up, the anchors dragged on the sandy sea bottom.
Weakened by three days of sea sickness, Charlene found it difficult to row after five and they faced being blown onto the shore – just 300 yards away.
Sally was in constant contact with the Coastguard and in the early hours of the morning, she took the decision that they needed a tow from the RNLI lifeboat into the safety of Ramsgate harbour. Charlene has been taken to hospital for routine check ups.
In a tearful call to Race Director Chris Usborne, Sally, who has rowed the Atlantic twice said: “It was all very controlled. We did everything we would but in the end there was nothing we could do but call the Coastguard for assistance.
“It’s with great sadness that we have been forced to withdraw from the race.”
Will de Laszlo, president of GBRow2013 – who set the world record for rowing non-stop around Britain in 2005 – said: “It’s a great shame.”
Three hundred miles away, The Islanders have opened up a 15-mile lead over nearest rivals, Hallin Marine II.
The Islanders are now heading up the Cornish coast towards the Bristol Channel and Team Hallin Marine passed Land’s End a mile from shore – and appear to have turned back towards Mount’s Bay.
Oarsome Adventures, a crew of six from West Wales, skippered by Mikey Buckley had made up time on Team Hallin and now just 8 miles behind the second-place crew.
Pure Gym, skippered by Claire Shouksmith, are almost at Start Point near Plymouth and the only remaining pair in the race, Jason McKinlay and Josh Tarr, in Savoir Faire are 25 miles from their home port of Salcombe in Devon.