Four Spanish rowers came face to face with a large shark

by Lorraine Williamson

MADRID – Four Spanish rowers took up the challenge of rowing across the Atlantic Ocean. After 31 days of strenuous physical exertion and setbacks, including 9-metre high waves and a shark collision, they arrived at their destination

Quim Planels, Martí Ramírez, Sergi Franch and Juanba Romero took on the De Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge. It’s the world’s toughest rowing race – over 3,000 miles unassisted across the Atlantic. However, two safety yachts support the teams in crossing the ocean. The Challenge raises money for various charities. 

Upon arrival on the island of Antigua in the Caribbean Sea, the ‘Ocean Cats‘ told the press gathered there, including Spain’s LaSexta, about their experiences and hardships. Among also about the brutal fright the men had to endure when they saw a large shark swimming around their boat. 

Rowers see shark 

“One and a half to two days before arrival, we felt a bump against the boat. We got up and saw a shark. A shark of almost three metres. The day before we had even jumped into the water to clean the boat,” says one of the four oarsmen, Martí Ramírez. 

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Waves up to ten metres 

The shark was not the only threat. “We had a very strong storm, which caused waves up to 10 metres high,” says Quim Planells, one of the other three rowers. The storm made them fear the worst and reminded them of the dearest they had. “From day one I had to call my wife. She is my main support. This victory is as much mine as it is hers.” 

Raising awareness about plastic pollution 

This is how these Spaniards accomplished their self-chosen task. One that was not only about the physical and mental challenge but also about making a difference. With their challenge, the rowers wanted to raise awareness about the threat of plastic pollution. The many hours the men spent on the water before the start of their Challenge only increased their passion for the environment and their love and respect for the sea. 

That is why they work as ambassadors with the NGO Surfrider Foundation Europe. In addition, through the “Ocean Schools” project, they also approach children and share with them the values of ocean rowing, the current problems threatening the seas and “what we can all do together to reduce or solve them”. 

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