Ex-fireman from Charlbury rows to Pacific success for charity

Ex-fireman from Charlbury rows to Pacific success for charity

Darren Taylor sitting down on the boat with his team

Darren Taylor

First published in News Oxford Mail: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter covering Witney and West Oxfordshire. Call me on 01865 425483

A FORMER fireman who rowed 2,700 miles with a team across the Pacific Ocean said good humour got him through the challenge.

Darren Taylor, 42, from Charlbury, was part of the Battleborn team that finished second in the inaugural Great Pacific Race from California to Hawaii.

He spent 45 days at sea with three strangers in cramped conditions, but said camaraderie helped them succeed.

Dad-of-one Mr Taylor, an experienced sailor, who quit his job as a fireman at Oxford’s Rewley Road station for the challenge, said: “When you’ve got four people in a situation like that it could have gone horribly wrong, but we turned a terrible journey into humour.

“If it wasn’t life-threatening and wasn’t going to stop us getting to Hawaii then there was no point in getting annoyed.

“It was that attitude which allowed us not just to finish but to finish highly and we were really happy with what we achieved.”

The crew were one of 13 teams to set off on Monday, June 9, and among seven which finished on Friday, July 25.

They were 13 hours behind winners Uniting Nations and four days ahead of third place.

They rowed in two-hour shifts, slept in a small cabin on the 23ft by 6ft boat and used a device to remove salt from sea water for drinking.

Food like macaroni cheese and spaghetti bolognese was freeze-dried and the crew used a bucket and bottles for the toilet. They endured several storms, with one snapping a carbon fibre oar, and nearly capsized on the fourth day.

Mr Taylor said: “It was probably one of the funniest and scarcest moments I’ve ever had.

“I saw one of the guys diving towards me – I didn’t know why to begin with but it turned out he saw my shoe was falling off.

“There were 30ft waves so you’ve got to have a pretty good presence of mind to think ‘there’s a shoe going overboard and we need that’.

“As soon as I saw that I knew I was going to make it because there was no panic at all and that made all the difference.”

Mr Taylor lost more than two stones in weight and wore a watch that monitors brain activity for Oxford Brookes University researchers to study.

He also raised almost £1,000 for new charity Spotlight Young Onset Parkinson’s Disease (YOPD), which helps people under 50 cope with the condition.

He had originally planned to row in a team with childhood friend Alex Flynn, from Goring in South Oxfordshire, who has the disease, but Mr Taylor found a new team when they pulled out due to a lack of funding.

The team were named after rock and pop band The Killers’ album Battle Born and received messages of support from the group and five-time Olympic rowing gold medallist Sir Steve Redgrave.

After reaching land Mr Taylor, who lives in Sturt Close with his partner Louisa Thomas, 39, and two of her three children, said he struggled to stand or close his fist for a week.

He added: “I’ve had a nice rest. I was away for three months so it was great to catch up with my partner and her children.”

 

  • Do you want alerts delivered straight to your phone via our WhatsApp service? Text NEWS or SPORT or NEWS AND SPORT, depending on which services you want, and your full name to 07767 417704. Save our number into your phone's contacts as Oxford Mail WhatsApp and ensure you have WhatsApp installed.

Send your Letter to the Editor

11:20am Monday 28th July 2014

What do you think? We welcome letters from our readers on a wide variety of subjects and you can send us a letter through the blue headline above.


Our top stories

Tributes paid to man stabbed to death by Abingdon riverbank

Oxford Mail:

9:00am Tuesday 21st October 2014

A WOMAN was last night being held in custody on suspicion of murder after a man was found fatally stabbed in Abingdon.

UPDATE: Woman, 40, appears in court charged with murder after a man was stabbed in Abingdon

Oxford Mail:

10:03am Tuesday 21st October 2014

A WOMAN has appeared in court charged with murder after a man was stabbed in Abingdon on Sunday night.

Pensioner dies in hospital after motorbike crash

Oxford Mail: Thames Valley Police logo

3:39pm Tuesday 21st October 2014

A 74-year-old  man who was injured when his motorcycle collided with a car last month has died in hospital.

Robber sent to prison for part in £11,000 Park End Street attack

Oxford Mail: Oxford Crown Court

9:00am Tuesday 21st October 2014

A ROBBER who beat a man up as a distraction while his accomplice stole £11,000 from his victim’s wife has been jailed.

Let Oxford expand beyond its boundaries says housing crisis report

Oxford Mail: oxford city council logo

7:30am Tuesday 21st October 2014

OXFORD is an example of a city which should be allowed to grow beyond its boundaries, according to a national report.

Drop former English Defence League leader as speaker, Oxford Union urged

Oxford Mail: The Oxford Union

6:40am Tuesday 21st October 2014

NEARLY 200 Oxford academics, students, councillors and trade union leaders have signed an open letter calling for the Oxford Union to cancel an invitation to the former leader of the English Defence League to speak.

Comments

Comments are closed on this article.

Send us your news, pictures and videos

Most read stories

Local Info

Enter your postcode, town or place name

About cookies

We want you to enjoy your visit to our website. That's why we use cookies to enhance your experience. By staying on our website you agree to our use of cookies. Find out more about the cookies we use.

I agree