Borders rower feels pull of the sea as crew near Atlantic record

BORDERS adventurer Leven Brown is on course to break the oldest record in rowing history.

The intrepid ocean voyager and his crew of three set off from New York on June 17 in an attempt to beat the current 114-year-old record for rowing the North Atlantic. For the team to break the current record they should arrive at St Mary's in the Isles of Scilly no later than 6.30am on August 12 (7.30BST). And, with only 410 miles to go, on Tuesday this week, their challenge is due to end any day now after around two months at sea battling the elements, personal demons and a good bout of food poisoning.

On their boat, Artemis Investments, the team have already shattered one record - for the most miles covered in 24 hours - and, all going well, they look set to break the North Atlantic crossing time as well.

On Saturday, the team enjoyed a meeting with the captain, crew and passengers of the majestic Queen Mary II, organised by the liner's captain Nick Bates. Brown commented: "She was about quarter of a mile away when we spotted her approaching us eerily out of the fog.

"We have to thank Cunard Line, the master of the QM2 and Captain Nick Bates and his crew not only for arranging this unique encounter but also for the fantastic seamanship which was demonstrated to us in the QM2's approach. We have never seen so many people cheering and waving - they were lined all the way along the rails shouting questions to us."

A reception is expected when the team reach the Scilly Isles, but with more than 400 miles to go, no one is celebrating yet. In his last diary entry on Sunday, Brown said: "The fog has lifted today, there are light winds and it is overcast and flat calm, but the water is heavy and it's like rowing in porridge - bad for hands and joints.

"We think that we are beginning to feel the slight influence of tides now. Our calculation show that we are 400 nautical miles off the Bishop's Rock and the forecast for the next few days is reasonable, but this seems to change from what is predicted fairly frequently. We will just have to take what comes anyway."

Brown, 37, was raised in Melrose and attended Selkirk High School with his brother Ronan who still lives in the area. He has more than 10,000 ocean rowing miles experience and has been keen on adventure all his life. Rowing, sailing, walking, bushcraft and survival are all passions.

Readers of TheSouthern may recall that in the 2005-6, Brown rowed the Atlantic east to west solo in his 23ft wooden rowing boat Atlantic Wholff taking 123 days to cover nearly 4,500 miles. He survived four hurricanes, a shark attack and lightning storms and was the first rower to conquer Spain's notorious Bay of Cadiz.

He also holds four ocean rowing world records, including fastest crossing of the Atlantic, longest distance covered in 24 hours, and most consecutive days over 100 miles (nine days), and a number of firsts in ocean rowing.

He is generally considered the top skipper in the field and has spent more than 400 days at sea in rowing boats in the most extreme expeditions and sea trials.

A stockbroker to trade Brown brings unparalleled experience, strong work ethics, a very calm head and tactical guile to the expedition. He is accompanied by Ray Carroll, Don Lennox and Livar Nysted - all of whom have formidable ocean rowing pedigrees. The records will be accredited by the Ocean Rowing Society and Guinness World Records.

Leven is married to Yvette Jelfs and has a four-year-old daughter Constance.

Artemis Investment Management (www.artemisonline.com) is a proven sponsor in both ocean sailing and ocean rowing. The company sponsored the team's previous assault on the southern Atlantic passage record which had to be abandoned but they are as dedicated as the crew to seeing this attempt through.

The full expedition can be followed online by going to www.artemisoceanrowing.com with diary updates and images taken en route.