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Friends pull together for challenge

PUBLISHED: 12:06 05 February 2010 | UPDATED: 16:13 06 July 2010

FROM struggling through Atlantic storms to rowing alongside dolphins and sharks, two best friends from the region have experienced highs and lows during the start of a gruelling ocean challenge for charity.

FROM struggling through Atlantic storms to rowing alongside dolphins and sharks, two best friends from the region have experienced highs and lows during the start of a gruelling ocean challenge for charity.

Oliver Back, from Oulton Broad, and James Croone, from Whitwell Common, near Norwich, have been planning to take part in the Woodvale Atlantic rowing race for more a year - and on January 4 the challenge finally began.

The pair, who have been friends since their schooldays, hope to cover the 2,934 miles from La Gomera to Antigua in 55 days - the equivalent of them each rowing a marathon a day.

Aboard their boat, the QBE Insurance Challenge, the duo have already progressed well and in third place out of a fleet of 29 boats. They also won the pre-race warm-up event, the La Gomera Cup.

“The race so far has been quite eventful as the boys have had to cope with electrical problems and, along with the rest of the fleet, have been forced to spend five days on a parachute anchor riding out a particularly nasty mid-Atlantic storm,” said Oliver's mum Susie Back.

“Much to their relief, they are now back racing and are looking forward to arriving in Antigua within the next three to four weeks.”

The duo, who are both 26 and live in London, are competing in the event to raise money for East Anglia's Children's Hospices and the Multiple Sclerosis Society.

“In their blog, they describe the highs and lows of ocean rowing; the wonderful sunsets and rich marine life including dolphins, sharks and flying fish, and the fatigue from each rowing 12 hours per day in rotating shifts. Sleep depravation, blisters and sores are but some of the significant issues that they have to overcome,” said Mrs Back.

To follow their progress and support the causes visit www.atlanticrow2009.com

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