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Jerseyman smashes world’s toughest row

Jerseyman smashes world’s toughest row

Monday 20 January 2020

Jerseyman smashes world’s toughest row

After barnacles, blisters and several pairs of 'budgie smugglers'… a Jersey man has smashed the ‘world’s toughest row’ across the Atlantic Ocean, raising thousands for teen cancer patients in the process.

Former Victoria College student Rufus Scholefield (26) and his ‘Dorabros’ - James Deehan, Lirim Gula and Charlie Crane – completed the 'oarsome' 3,000-mile Talisker Challenge on Friday.

Having set off from the Canary Islands on 1 December as part of a bid to raise £100,000 for the Teenage Cancer Trust, the group reached the finish line on the Caribbean island of Antigua in 36 days, 10 hours and 31 minutes. 

Despite teams of Danish Army veterans and British submariners “snapping at their heels” as they entered the final stretch according to Rufus’s father, the group powered ahead, taking the title of third-placed group of four by sunset.

The journey was one of intense ups and downs for the Dorabros, who enjoyed sightings of dolphins, sharks and shooting stars, while also facing blisters, bashed limbs, seasickness, “sense of humour failures”, 10-metre-high waves, and even a capsize that threw them out of their boat.

But none of those obstacles managed to break the spirit of the group sponsored by Budgy Smugglers, whose designs they sported throughout.

The pattern of rowing consisted of two hours’ hard rowing and two hours’ off 24/7 – even on Christmas Day, when they tucked into a ‘dehydrated’ Christmas dinner. 

As they slipped into a rhythm, each of the ‘bros’ assumed a role. 

‘Barnacle Boy’ Rufus – who discovered his rowing talent while at Edinburgh University, before reaching Team GB standard – was responsible for keeping the bottom of the boat free of small creatures every four to five days to ensure optimum speed by ridding rid the craft of any unnecessary resistance. 

An Instagram video showing Rufus attending to the task described it as “a chance to stretch the legs and release your inner merman”, before adding: “…All fun and games until you see a shark, though…” 

Other highlights of the trip were also captured on the Insta-feed, which provided a humorous insight into the team’s progress – as well as their varying levels of facial hair.

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by The Dorabros (@dorabros) onJan 6, 2020 at 12:34am PST

Emotions ran high as the group reached their destination at English Harbour on Friday, where friends and family were present to welcome them and join them in celebration with a bottle of Antigua’s finest beer.

The gruelling Atlantic row was just one of a series of feats to be taken on by the group, however.

In April 2019, they tackled the Marathon des Sables – an ultra-marathon of 251km across the Sahara desert – followed by a cycle from Monaco to London in May. Later in the year, the Dorabros attempted a relay swim across the Channel that transformed into a relay in Dover Harbour due to inclement weather conditions. 

The Dorabros - a name inspired by the dorado fish - undertook the series of challenges with an aim of raising £100,000 for the Teenage Cancer Trust, which aims to improve the experience of those with cancer aged between 13 and 24.

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by The Dorabros (@dorabros) onDec 19, 2019 at 1:58am PST

In an interview before setting off, Rufus told Express the charity was close to his heart, as one of his school friends, Harry Zambon, had passed away in early 2019 from a rare type of cancer

“The Teenage Cancer Trust is the only charity that researches why teenagers get cancer,” Rufus explained. “We want to give them as much support as we can so that they can stop teenagers getting cancer.” 

The boys are especially keen to support the use of 'chemo backpacks', which enable young patients to receive chemotherapy through a portable backpack, rather than on a hospital ward. 

As of 3 January, an update posted to the Dorabros’ JustGiving page said that they were closing in on their target: “Just under £14,000 on the Row site, £8,700 on the Channel swim, pledges to bank of another £16,500, which totals £39,200 of the £50,000 target from outside donations, then the guys will sell the boat and the equipment for hopefully £50,000. £89,200 if all goes well, and we are close to our overall target of £100,000. Approximately another £10,000 will make the guys and TCT very happy.”

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by The Dorabros (@dorabros) onDec 25, 2019 at 12:28am PST

Since completing the Talisker Challenge, more donations have come flooding in, with the total on the rowing JustGiving page now standing at around £19,000.

Sharing their gratitude after completing the race, the Dorabros posted: “36 days, 10 hours and 32 minutes!!

"We couldn’t have done it without all the support from our sponsors, family and friends - Thank you.” 

CLICK HERE to donate to the Dorabros’ fundraising page.

Pictured top: The Dorabros celebrating their completion of the Talisker Challenge 2019. (Ben Duffy Photography)

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