A Dutch rower attempting to set a new world record by crossing the Atlantic solo had to be rescued by the Portuguese Navy just 24 hours after setting off from the Algarve village of Ferragudo, after he was bowled over by massive waves out at sea.
Renowned Dutch rower Ralph Tuijn, one of the most experienced trans-ocean rowers in the world, had to be rescued on Sunday after being washed out of his state-of-the-art boat by tumultuous swells.
His attempt had already been delayed by two days due to meteorological conditions.
Tuijn, 45, was originally due to set off on his challenge on Thursday morning (14 December), but was forced to postpone his departure until Saturday lunchtime after the Met Office placed an Orange Alert on the Algarve coastline on Friday (16 December) due to waves of up to 11 metres.
Tuijn’s team on land said “after a superb first day of the solo world record attempt to row from Ferragudo (Portugal) to South America, the undesired happens ... A huge wave lifted the boat high and bowled it over.”
The daring rower was reportedly washed into the sea and his high-tech GPS equipment damaged.
A rescue boat was dispatched from the Port of Portimão at around 9.30pm on Sunday evening and was expected to reach the adventurer within three hours, before bringing him back to land during the early hours of Monday morning.
Until reached by the Navy Corvette, Tuijn was monitored by a nearby Merchant Ship, “because according to the sea laws they have to keep an eye on him.”
At around 4am Monday morning, the Portuguese Navy confirmed they had reached the rower and that he was “OK.”
“Of course this is a major disappointment. But it will not change Ralph’s intentions. At this moment he is just grateful that the rescue team reacted so quickly and effectively”, his spokesperson added.
With five ocean crossings and over 500 ocean-rowing days under his belt, Ralph Tuijn is part of a select group of six rowers to boast that achievement and hence one of the most experienced ocean rowers in the world.
His claim to fame came in 2013 when he had to be rescued after 98 days while attempting to cross the Indian Ocean, having been run over by a tanker; twice.
Ralph intends to embark on a new rowing record expedition in March 2017.