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Leeds adventurer on course to compete ocean trilogy

Relaxing in his parents' home in Leeds is an adventurer who is one step closer to doing what no one has done before.

Ben Thackwray is putting his feet up in his home town after completing a gruelling race across the Atlantic Ocean – just one part of his 'Adventure Trilogy'.

The 27-year-old was part of a team of five who had rowed 3,000 miles between Antigua and the Canaries as part of a record-breaking attempt, yet he shuns fame and glory.

"For me it is about the moments in time," he said. "When we had to power down everything in the boat during an electrical storm, I kept a look out for ships. The first thing that came up on my iPod was 'Message in a Bottle' by The Police.

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"It is one of the reasons that I have these adventures."

Talking about his experiences he cut a relaxed figure, but less than two weeks ago he had seen more in his 37-day journey across the sea than many could hope to see in a lifetime.

"The moon was so beautiful, and we saw the stars rotating across the sky," said Ben. "We saw rainbows at night – something I had only heard of on the Simpsons before that."

The attempt itself was the fastest ever crossing in a rowing boat between the islands and was fifth overall as the fastest unaided crossing of the Atlantic Ocean, and the crew had to endure severe setbacks and uncomfortable conditions.

"You are aching virtually all the time, and the heat was unbearable as we were rowing across the equator," he said. "Most of the time the crew rowed naked, because the clothes chaffed the skin," he said. "I tried it once, but it wasn't for me."

The rudder broke twice during storms at sea, once snapping the stainless steel device completely and then bending their only replacement totally out of shape.

"I can't imagine how much force it must have taken to do that," he said. "We ended up just trying to hammer it back into shape."

Though he can already look back upon his life with pride, this crossing is just the first of three towering achievements that make up the core of his lifetime ambitions – he still has to climb Mt Everest, and ski across the South Pole.

"As far as I know, no-one has done them all," he said. "I think a few have managed two."

He has been combining a full-time job at HBOS with 150-mile treks across the Sahara, and climbing some of the tallest mountains in the world.

But with many more adventures planned in the future, Ben is hoping to dedicate more time to his passion, and admits that his social life is not what it once was with each adventure taking months of preparation.

"It has taken a pummelling recently," he said. "But I have known my friends since I was four, and they are always going to be there for me.

"I cannot be more thankful for everyone's support."

 
 
 

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