Lonely Planet Writer

Antigua rowers break world Atlantic crossing record

A team of rowers from Antigua has broken the world record for being the oldest team to cross the Atlantic.

Team Wadadli are celebrated in Antigua
Team Wadadli are celebrated in Antigua Image by Antigua & Barbuda festivals

Team Wadadli claimed 14th place out of 26 boats taking part in the annual Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge, the world’s toughest rowing competition which started on 14 December.

What’s more they broke a second world record with team member Peter Smith becoming the oldest man to have ever crossed the Atlantic, at the age of 74. Smith is originally from Penzance, Cornwall in England, and has rowed across the Atlantic a few times previously.

The team consisted also in a 67-year-old GP, a 50-year-old professional seaman. The team experienced all sorts of hardships, from being struck by freak tropical cyclone Alex (the first tropical cyclone to happen in January in 78 years), to losing a rudder, to seasickness and flu. Smith described the experience of the cyclone to the BBC. “In a boat that small, the noise was tremendous and it felt endless. We couldn’t lie down in our bunks – we were bouncing up and down like ping pong balls.”

Peter Smith, the oldest man to have crossed the Atlantic
Peter Smith, the oldest man to have crossed the Atlantic Image by Antigua & Barbados Festivals/Facebook

The rowers also had some amazing experiences. They described seeing an incredible dolphin display, they rowed past sharks and whales, and they witnessed all manner of sunsets and sunrises. Unlike the other teams that survived on freeze-dried goods, team Wadadli put its maritime experience to good use and caught fish along its 52-day journey.

Team Wadadli received a wild welcome on their return into Nelson’s dockyard in Antigua and went on to steak dinner, which no doubt they needed after shedding close to 27 pounds in the 52 days of rowing.