Atlantic Challenge pair end race after boat capsizes

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Media captionFreak waves forced Nick Rees and Ed Curtis to abandon the challenge. Video shows the boat before the second capsizing

Two friends taking part in a challenge to row across the Atlantic have been rescued after their boat capsized.

Nick Rees, from Farnham, Surrey, and Ed Curtis, from Anglesey, north Wales, set off on their journey on 4 December.

They first capsized on Friday after a freak wave knocked them out of their boat, their blog said.

But after their boat rolled over again and suffered damage, the team decided with race organisers and coastguards that they should abandon the race.

A statement issued by Atlantic Campaigns, which organises the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge, said the pair reported on Tuesday morning their boat had capsized and suffered damage.

'Come home boys'

It said: "The duty officers then liaised with the coastguard, the team and the support boat and the decision was made to recover the team on to a container ship passing within a few miles of them.

"The container ship is now on its way to Gibraltar with Nick and Ed on board."

Image caption The pair were taking part in the race to raise £250,000 for Breakthrough Breast Cancer

The statement said both men were physically well and safe and their families had been informed.

On the team's blog, the families wrote: "We have yet to speak to the boys directly but are very grateful for the operations put into place by Atlantic Campaigns to ensure their safety. Come home boys."

The friends, both 37, were taking part in the race to raise £250,000 for Breakthrough Breast Cancer.

Their route was taking them on a 3,000-mile trip from the Canary Islands to Antigua.

Mr Rees, whose 37-year-old wife Ellen was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2009, said the pair were taking it in turns to row their 24ft (7m)-long boat two hours on and two off, 24 hours a day.

Atlantic Campaigns said the pair would be home with their families in time for Christmas, having already raised more than £100,000 for the charity.

Chief executive Carsten Heron-Olsen said: "The safety of our crews is of the utmost importance.

"A race support vessel is always on the water offering 24-hour support; safety advisors constantly monitor the fleet, and we work very closely with the maritime authorities in the Canary Islands and Antigua."

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