Bristol

Rower Callum Gathercole sets solo ocean record

British student Callum Gathercole Image copyright PA
Image caption Callum Gathercole is the youngest solo athlete to row across an ocean after completing the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge

A British student has become the youngest person to row solo across an ocean.

Callum Gathercole, 20, from Surrey, began the 3,000-mile (4,800km) Atlantic Challenge race in the Canary Islands on 20 December.

He arrived in Antigua's English Harbour in the Caribbean early on Wednesday.

Mr Gathercole, who is studying aerospace engineering at the University of Bristol, set a time of 58 days, 15 hours and 15 minutes.

His achievement as the youngest solo trans-oceanic rower has been confirmed by the Ocean Rowing Society, the official adjudicator of ocean rowing records for Guinness World Records.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Mr Gathercole crossed the Atlantic in 58 days, 15 hours and 15 minutes

Mr Gathercole experienced "some difficult days rowing in tough conditions" as he battled tropical storms, 40ft (12m) waves and sleep deprivation.

"It was a brilliant challenge that I thoroughly enjoyed taking on," he said, but he added that it was "great" to be on dry land again.

"Most of the time there was just water. Most days I'd see an occasional bird."

He said he also saw a group of about 20 dolphins around his boat "which was just incredible".

His challenge has raised more than £85,000 so far for the Princess Alice Hospice in Esher, Surrey, in memory of his father.

Mr Gathercole represented Great Britain in the European and World Internationals in 2012 and 2013.

Image copyright PA
Image caption The experienced rower also represented Great Britain in the European and World Internationals in 2012 and 2013

The previous youngest solo ocean rower was 22-year-old Katie Spotz from the USA who rowed the Atlantic east-to-west between 3 January and 14 March 2010.

The previous youngest male solo ocean rower was the UK's Tommy Tippetts, 22, who rowed the same route as Ms Spotz between 21 January and 12 April 2012.

Mr Gathercole's success comes nine days after that of two other University of Bristol students - Freddie Wright and Jack Galsworthy - both 21, who became the youngest pair to row the Atlantic.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Freddie Wright and Jack Galsworthy recently became the youngest pair to row the Atlantic

The men were at sea for 47 days, 14 hours and 46 minutes before crossing the finishing line in their 6.9m boat, Blue Steel.

Mr Wright described the race as "an awesome experience" and something "we would definitely do again".

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