Crew members thrown from boat during epic Atlantic race

The HMS Oardacious team.  Photo: GRM
The HMS Oardacious team. Photo: GRM

A Whitehead man and his team-mates are on course to reach their final destination this week following an epic race across the Atlantic.

Known as HM Oardacious, the crew of four British submariners includes local man Dylan Woods, along with Hugo Mitchell-Heggs from Sheffield, Callum Fraser from Basingstoke, and Matt Harvey from Kirkaldy.

Petty Officer Dylan Woods, from Whitehead.

Petty Officer Dylan Woods, from Whitehead.

The men are taking part in the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge, a 3,000 mile unsupported row from the Canary Islands to Antigua.

HMS Oardacious was one of 35 teams who set off on December 12 from La Gomera, with the voyage expected to take between 20 and 40 days.

But things took a dramatic turn on Monday when their vessel was hit unexpectedly by a giant wave.

A post on the HMS Oardacious Facebook page, used to update supporters on their progress, read: "In the middle of the night, in pitch black, an enormous wave hit and chucked Callum and Dylan out of the boat in their first full-capsize. Matty and Hugo were 'asleep' (or at least trying to) and while they stayed dry, they were pretty battered.

"Dylan chipped a tooth, they snapped an oar (so don't have any spare now if they want to continue three rowing at a time), the water maker took a big hit and now keeps switching off, and the autohelm is well and truly on it's last legs."

Despite the scare, the crew's naval background proved invaluable in dealing with the situation. "They all had intensive training on what to do in exactly this scenario; they had everything strapped down and strapped on, so at no point were they at any real risk, just a big shock," the post added. "In the pitch black, they didn't see the wave going, but thanks to the instruments on board they can see it threw them across at 19.3kn, a new record for their journey and the equivalent of c25mph.

"Without doubt, their submariner training also gave them the best possible preparation; their reaction was never to panic, but to get back on deck and make sure everyone was safe and everything was accounted for, then to get back rowing."

HMS Oardacious, who have raised over £100,000 for charity so far with the venture, are expected to reach their destination this weekend.

To support the team, text ‘NAVY OAR’ to 70500 to donate £5 to the Royal Navy and Royal Marines Charity.