Rowing Extra: Ocean Cats Win TWAC; Another Atlantic Rower Dips In

Ocean Cats have won the 2022 Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge. Joaquim Planelles, Juanba Romero, Sergi Franch, and Marti Ramirez set off from Tenerife on Dec. 12 along with 42 other crews. The Spanish four covered the 4,800km in 31 days, 17 hours, and nine minutes. 

Since the start of this race, they have been contending for first. After the first day, they were in sixth place, but by the third day, they had already moved ahead. They briefly dropped back into third, but then crept back up the leaderboard. 

Photo: Atlantic Campaigns


Difficult early days

During the first few difficult days, they battled against the wind and struggled with seasickness and lack of sleep. The challenges continued as time wore on. On Dec. 21, their battery stopped working, which meant that so did their autopilot, navigation system, and water maker.

For several hours, they wondered if they would have to pull out of the race. They lost one rower for hours so that he could tend a manual rudder, but after a number of frantic phone calls, they figured it out. One of their batteries wasn’t charging properly. Once they removed it, their second battery could charge, and all the systems started working again. 

Photo: Atlantic Campaigns


Five days later, the centerboard of their boat broke during strong winds and eight-meter waves. At that point, they said, “Race mode was deactivated and survival mode was activated.”

One crew member permanently had to work on stabilizing the boat. They have not detailed how they fixed the situation, but by the next day, they were rowing again. Then on the last day of the race, a three-meter shark rammed into the boat.

During the race, they rowed for 24 hours a day in two-hour shifts. They ate 5,000 calories a day and tried to eat during each break.

The hardest part of the row for the crew was not the physical effort but the mental fatigue. Yet even that had started to subside by the halfway point. 


The Ocean Cats finished three days faster than the winners of last year’s race but were still 48 hours behind the course record. In 2018, the Four Oarsmen, a UK four, completed the course in a blazing 29 days, 14 hours, and 34 minutes. The winners of last year’s race, Swiss Raw, finished in 34 days, 23 hours and 42 minutes.

Another rower sets off

Recently, a new boat has taken to the Atlantic. Andrew Osborne, 57, has started a 4,800km solo row from Gran Canaria to Antigua. He is doing it to raise money for CRY (Cardiac Risk in the Young), in memory of his daughter. She died in her sleep five years ago at the age of 25, due to an undiagnosed heart condition. 

Photo: RowForAmy/Facebook


He spoke to the BBC about how why he chose this challenge. “I love the sea — Amy loved the sea — so I had a great idea that I would sail across the Atlantic. But someone pointed out that that is really a bit of a holiday. So now I’m rowing.”

Osborne is an experienced sailor, but he has rowed only briefly in the past. To prepare, he has been training with former Olympic rowing champion James Cracknell. 

Osborne set off on January 5. He experienced seasickness for 72 hours while battling northerly winds. Since then, his illness has subsided. You can track his row here. 

Rebecca McPhee

Rebecca McPhee is a freelance writer for ExplorersWeb.

Rebecca has been writing about open water sports, adventure travel, and marine science for three years. Prior to that, Rebecca worked as an Editorial Assistant at Taylor and Francis, and a Wildlife Officer for ORCA.

Based in the UK Rebecca is a science teacher and volunteers for a number of marine charities. She enjoys open water swimming, hiking, diving, and traveling.