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Wednesday 27th January 2016

Four Brits, Joe Barnett (25), Gus Barton (25), Jack Mayhew (26) and Angus Collins (26) (Ocean Reunion), have beaten 25 teams from across the world to win the world’s toughest row, the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge.  They have broken the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge record* by completing the gruelling 3,000-mile race in 37 days 9 hours and 12 minutes.  

Team Ocean Reunion. Photo by Ted Martin/photofantasyantigua.com

Rowing in shifts of 2 hours on, 2 hours off, the old school friends took on the arduous challenge to raise money for both Teenage Cancer Trust and the Cystic Fibrosis Trust. They are hoping to raise £50,000 for each charity.

Skipper Angus Collins comments on their win: We’re ecstatic to have won the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge and this huge welcome in Antigua has blown us away.  It was incredibly tough and we’re so glad it’s over but it was such a fantastic experience.  I wouldn’t do it again in a hurry but if any of these guys asked, I’d absolutely do it again.”

Talisker Brand Manager Sarah Fleming comments: “We’re delighted about Ocean Reunion’s record breaking win. This year’s Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge has certainly lived up to its name of the world’s toughest row.  Only one week ago the fleet faced a tropical storm, which developed into Hurricane Alex. Like the rowers in the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge the TALISKER® distillery is battered by the elements: being the only distillery on the windswept coast of the Isle of Skye. The Ocean Reunion team has shown determination to win from day one of the race and it has certainly paid off with this highly commendable record breaking victory.”  

As well as the tropical storms, the teams have battled 40ft waves, sleep deprivation, seasickness and excruciating body sores.  

Ocean Reunion met as teenagers whilst studying at Uppingham School in the East Midlands, where they all developed a passion for sports. Despite heading their separate ways after leaving school, the keen athletes reunited last year and Jack and Angus convinced the others to join them in the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge. Angus Collins, the Ocean Reunion skipper built the 7X2 metre boat they called home for 37 days. Taking sibling rivalry to another level, team member Angus was also competing against his sister, Bella, who is a member of a rival team Row Like A Girl. The all-female team are currently in second place in the race.  

To follow the progress of the race please visit: https://www.taliskerwhiskyatlanticchallenge.com/race-tracker/

To donate to either of their charities, visit: https://www.justgiving.com/Ocean-Reunion1 for the Cystic Fibrosis Trust or https://www.justgiving.com/Ocean-Reunion/ for Teenage Cancer Trust.

In order of position in the race, here is the list of the remaining 25 teams competing in the 2015/16 Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge:

Row #LikeAGirl – GB - Lauren Morton, Bella Collins, Olivia Bolesworth, Georgina Purdy – Lauren tackled the race in 2013, but after 96 days at sea and a variety of issues with the boat she was forced to end her crossing attempt. Lauren is back this year with three determined girls who are rowing to raise money for Plan UK: https://www.taliskerwhiskyatlanticchallenge.com/the-teams/row-like-girl/

Atlantic Challenge 2015 – GB - Dan Parsons, Olly Clark – Olly and Dan are both following their thirst for adventure to take on their first Atlantic Ocean crossing in aid of ABF The Soldier’s Charity and Prostate Cancer UK: https://www.taliskerwhiskyatlanticchallenge.com/the-teams/atlantic-challenge/

Oarsome Buoys – GB - Shaun Pedley, Ryan Barter – For Shaun, this will be his second Atlantic Ocean rowing crossing and he has rowed since he was a child. Ryan has taken on many a challenge before and together they will be raising funds for Rowcroft Hospice: https://www.taliskerwhiskyatlanticchallenge.com/the-teams/oarsome-buoys

Atlantic Drifters – GB - David Lambert, Tom Brunwin – Two servicemen, Tom and David decided to take on the challenge whilst both serving in Afghanistan in 2012. They will be raising money for Overseas Aid for the Kids of Sierra Leone and for the Lt Dougie Dalzell MC Memorial Trust, in memory of their friend: https://www.taliskerwhiskyatlanticchallenge.com/the-teams/atlantic-drifters/

Team Beyond – US - Daley Ervin, Phil Theodore – Phil and Daley are in it to win it. With ultramarathons under their belt, this pair are competing for the fastest crossing time and will be raising money for their own foundation which they created: https://www.taliskerwhiskyatlanticchallenge.com/the-teams/team-beyond/

All Beans No Monkeys – GB - James Timbs-Harrison, James Kendall, Liam Browning, Stuart Markland -  Ex Newcastle University students who are all passionate about adventure, and raising money for the Cystic Fibrosis Trust: https://www.taliskerwhiskyatlanticchallenge.com/the-teams/all-beans-no-monkeys/

Atlantic Castaways – GB - Freddie Wright, Jack Galsworthy – Two Engineering and Bio-Medical Science students from Bristol University and Kings College London are rowing the Atlantic for the Brain Research Trust: https://www.taliskerwhiskyatlanticchallenge.com/the-teams/atlantic-castaways/  

Team Hesco – GB & Australia - Theo Jones, Shane Chadwick – Two close friends, Shane and Theo are rowing the race in aid of The Not Forgotten Association and Shane will be the only Australian taking part in the race this year: https://www.taliskerwhiskyatlanticchallenge.com/the-teams/atlantic-voyager/

Row2Recovery – GB - Lee Spencer, Nigel Rogoff, Paddy Gallagher, Cayle Royce – Cayle crossed the Atlantic with Row2Recovery in 2013 and has returned this year to lead the first all amputee team to cross the Atlantic. Chosen following a tough selection process, this team of injured ex-servicemen are raising awareness and money for military charities including Help for Heroes: https://www.taliskerwhiskyatlanticchallenge.com/the-teams/row2recovery/

Latitude 35 – US -  Jason Caldwell, Tom Magorov – These formidable men have teamed up to represent the United States in the race, and with their boat named American Spirit they intend to fly the flag for America whilst raising money for St. Jude’s Research Hospital; On 31st December two of the team members, Greg Wood and Nicholas Khan were taken off the boat due to severe sea sickness and personal issues.  https://www.taliskerwhiskyatlanticchallenge.com/the-teams/latitude-35/

Atlantic Lions – GB - Matthew Townsend, David Middleton, Joe Mile, Charlie Hayward – Having all met at Birmingham University, the crew have joined forces to raise money in memory of Dave’s uncle who sadly passed away due to MS: https://www.taliskerwhiskyatlanticchallenge.com/the-teams/atlantic-lions/

Sogno Atlantico – Italian - Matteo Perucchini – The only Italian in the race Matteo has had his sights set on competing in the challenge for over a decade. With the support of his boating family behind him, Matteo will be raising money for Cardiac Risk in the Young: https://www.taliskerwhiskyatlanticchallenge.com/the-teams/sogno-atlantico/

Facing It – South Africa – Stuart Connacher – Solo South African taking part in this year’s challenge, Stuart was inspired to take on the race years ago and felt this year was the right year. He will be raising money for Another Mile for Another Smile: https://www.taliskerwhiskyatlanticchallenge.com/the-teams/north-east-atlantic-challenge-2/

The Cranial Quest – USA - Caitlin Miller, George Pagano – From Minnesota and Philadelphia respectively, Caitlin and George will be the first team to row an American designed boat in the race all for the Blazeman Foundation for ALS: https://www.taliskerwhiskyatlanticchallenge.com/the-teams/cranial-quest/

Team Wadadli – Antigua - Nick Fuller, Peter Smith, JD Hall, Archie Bailey – The first Antiguan team to take part in the race, they felt it was about time a crew joined in to row home. The promise of a grand welcome when the team reach Antigua will be motivating them all and Peter is set to become the oldest person to cross the Atlantic at the age of 74. Their charity of choice is St. John’s Hospice in Antigua: https://www.taliskerwhiskyatlanticchallenge.com/the-teams/team-wadadli/  

Sea Rover – South Africa – Greg Maud – Greg is no stranger to adventure, having previously climbed Everest, and this row represents the next endeavor. He is crossing the Atlantic for Streetlight Schools, improving educational opportunities in South Africa: https://www.taliskerwhiskyatlanticchallenge.com/the-teams/greg-maud/

Thrift Energy – GB - Sean McGuigan, Andy Warner – Two endurance race enthusiasts from the North East of England who will be battling it out with Team Beyond to raise money for St. Clare’s Hospice: https://www.taliskerwhiskyatlanticchallenge.com/the-teams/thrift-energy/

Persil Atlantic Waterbabies – GB – Callum Gathercole – The youngest participant in this year’s challenge, Callum will be rowing in memory of his father who passed away two years ago, to raise money for the Princess Alice Hospice who cared for his dad: https://www.taliskerwhiskyatlanticchallenge.com/the-teams/the-persil-waterbabies-atlantic-row/

Atlantic Buoys – GB - Hamish Stewart, Neil Blackleby – Returning for a second year, Hamish and Neil entered the race in 2013 as a trio and have decided to tackle it again this year to raise money for Little Harbour Hospital: https://www.taliskerwhiskyatlanticchallenge.com/the-teams/atlantic-buoys-2015/  

Square One Atlantic – GB - Sean Lannon, Lee Felton – Lee has completed challenges before from Tough Mudder to Dubai Desert Warrior, but this has been an entirely new undertaking on the water with Sean to raise money for Rape Crisis England & Wales and Sport For Freedom: https://www.taliskerwhiskyatlanticchallenge.com/the-teams/square-one-atlantic  

Rowing4Rascals – GB - Robert Strachan, Duncan Brown – The only Scottish team in the race this year, Robert and Duncan are representing Aberdeen as they tackle the waves raising money for Great Ormond Street Hospital and The Archie Foundation: https://www.taliskerwhiskyatlanticchallenge.com/the-teams/rowing-4-rascals/

Yorkshire Rows – GB – Janette Benaddi, Frances Davies, Niki Doeg, Helen Butters -  Four working mums from Yorkshire were on the look out for a new challenge. In between full time jobs and raising a family, these four women are finding the time to row the Atlantic to raise money for Maggie’s Cancer Caring Centre and Yorkshire Air Ambulance: https://www.taliskerwhiskyatlanticchallenge.com/the-teams/yorkshire-rows/

Atlantic Answer – GB – Evelyn Williams - Evelyn has run the Marathon de Sables and this race is yet another challenge he is excited about facing, in aid of the Great Western Hospitals NHS Trust: https://www.taliskerwhiskyatlanticchallenge.com/the-teams/evelyn-williams/

Coventry Five-O – GB - Adrian Lindon, Martin Bramwell – Sea lovers from Coventry are rowing to raise funds for Lupus UK: https://www.taliskerwhiskyatlanticchallenge.com/the-teams/coventry-five-o/

Atlantic Endurance – GB – Steve Murphy – Steve has previously run from Land’s End to John O’Groats, but will be swapping the land for the sea this December to raise money for the YMCA: https://www.taliskerwhiskyatlanticchallenge.com/the-teams/steve-murphy/

*Race record was held by Team Locura who completed the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge in 2014 in 41 days.  The world record for the crossing is 31 days which is held by Team Hellin, achieved in 2011.  

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