Celebrations as FTCT fundraiser Mark hits dry land

Friday, December 20th, 2013 | Posted in Blog

FTCT fundraiser Mark Mark N-J PicNewton-Jones and the crew of Challenger 3 finally reached dry land last week after almost 19 days at sea! With the generous support of his sponsors, Mark raised an epic £31k for his two chosen charities, Fashion & Textile Children’s Trust and Children with Cancer.

If you haven’t yet had a chance to sponsor Mark, please log on to his Virgin Money Giving page and make your pledge today.

Mark sent across the below thank you message for all of his supporters:

“So we’ve made it across the Atlantic and we are safely ashore .. the sense of elation and achievement is quiet overwhelming .. We’ve covered 3,006 nautical miles in 18 days 23hrs 18 minutes, coming in on the 12/12 .. Of the total fleet of circa 250 yachts we have finished 60th .. It’s sobering to see that there are still, even 2 days later, over 150 yachts still out there.

Trouble in calm waters

Sadly we had to pull out of the racing division, after 10 days at sea we’d been becalmed and it looked like another 10 days to the finish at that point .. with several of the crew needing to make flights we had to put the engine on for 48hrs to cover some distance, by doing so we could cover approx 180 miles every 24 hrs and get closer to the stronger trade winds. Taking this action though disqualified Challenger 3 from the 37 boat race division as no engines are allowed. Whilst this was disappointing we were still part of the overall ARC fleet, where engines are allowed to be used on a handicapping basis.

The experience was quiet amazing and the contrasts in the environment very extreme .. From the natural beauty of the most amazing 360 degree vistas, stunning sunsets and sunrises, the sky at night like black velvet only lit by the brightest of stars with so many shooting stars you lost count of them and beautiful dolphins playing in the bow wave of the yacht with flying fish joining us unwittingly aboard. This all contrasted with being battered by gale force 9 winds and big following seas with waves breaking at over 6 metres high accompanied by biblical rain .

During daylight these conditions were fearsome but at night clipped on to safety lines and hurtling into the pitch black was terrifying at times. Thankfully our boat, Challenger 3, coped with everything the Atlantic threw at her .. We only tore up one sail when other boats lost several more, many getting flattened on their sides and one poor couple had there yacht de-masted .

Back on dry land

You don’t quite recognise how amazing the whole experience is or indeed how much on the edge your living when you’re out in the middle of the ocean, your vulnerable and at the mercy of it all until your safely tied up .. Would I do it again, think I’ll answer that one after a few weeks of contemplation ..

The first sight of the twinkling lights of shore was very emotional, strangely you could smell land before you could see it … and then the first steps on hard ground were very odd indeed, after almost 3 weeks at sea, but the beer and rum punch soon replaced any swaying from the ocean !

So back to normal life now after this incredible adventure .. Thank you once again for your kind generosity words can’t really express how grateful I am and the same is true on behalf of the two charities, Children with Cancer UK and Fashion & Textile Children’s Trust. You’ve pulled together and raised over £31k and it’s rising by the day … Many many thanks.  Mark


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