FRIGHTENED – Atlantic Ocean – 29 January 2006 – rowers’ boat attacked
IC Wales reports:
LIKE something out of Jaws” – Welsh ocean rower Andrew Barnett describes the terrifying moment when, hungry and exhausted, he became the target of a frenzied shark attack in the middle of the Atlantic.
Tossed about on the rough sea like “clothes in a washing machine”, the 46-year-old Monmouth adventurer hid helplessly in the cramped cabin of his tiny two-man boat as the 12ft predator repeatedly rammed it in a bid to sink him and his crewmate.
“We’d watched it circle us for a long time,” said the seasoned rower, whose boat MayaBrit was approaching the final stretch of the Woodvale Challenge – a gruelling 2,950-mile, non-stop trans-Atlantic race.
“Then suddenly it came swimming right at us at a rate of knots, repeatedly hammering itself into us and all we could do was just pray the hull would hold,” added Andrew, who, along with Guatemalan oarsman Juan Carlos Sagastume, had already braved torrential tropical storms, food poisoning, sleep deprivation and broken ribs on their epic voyage.
Each time the shark battered their fragile 22ft vessel, it brought a huge, ominous-sounding crack and, with huge swells lashing the sides, the final finishing line 300 miles away in Antigua seemed to grow ever more distant.
“We were terrified, particularly as five other boats in the challenge have capsized or sunk in the last two weeks,” said the medical rep and dad-of-two via satellite phone.
“My biggest fear was that the shark would come over the side and capsize us.
“If we’d have gone in to the water there’s no way we have stood a chance with that thing.”