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HCL plcs Atlantic Rowing Duo Return Triumphant

HCL plcs Atlantic Rowing Duo Return Triumphant

HCL plc, one of the UKs leading health and social care staffing companies, sponsored Chris Brooks and Joe Thompson to row the Atlantic to raise money for childrens charities. After a gruelling 70-day trek across the ocean, they successfully completed their epic ocean race and placed fifth overall in the pairs class.

HCL plc was the chief sponsor of Chris and Joe and their boat, Workforce One, as they raced in the Woodvale Challenge, a benchmark for extreme sports across the world. They rowed against 30 other teams in a gruelling two month, 3,000 mile race starting from La Gomera in the Canary Islands and finishing in Antigua. The charities they raced for are Chestnut Tree House childrens hospice, which supports children with life limiting conditions, and Grafham Grange Special Educational Trust, which provides bespoke education for children with behavioural and emotional challenges.

After completing a gruelling ten months training, the pair rowed continuously in shifts for more than 70 days, battling the elements, including a fierce storm in January and daily temperatures of up to 40 C. Food was strictly rationed, and with the bulk of it running out after 60 days, the pair had to make a concerted push to reach the finish line, rowing together for 36 hours straight to make the last leg. They crossed the finish line in Antigua at midnight on 16th March, having placed fifth in the pairs class of the race an outstanding achievement for a pair of amateur rowers who had never rowed competitively before.

Back in the UK, and sufficiently recovered from the heavy physical strain of their feat, the pair were in contemplative mood as they reflected on their adventure.

Chris Brooks said:
Stepping over the finish line was incredible. We had episodes of very bad weather so the pressure was on to make it during calm periods before the weather turned. Life is very basic in the middle of the Atlantic you do nothing except row, eat and sleep.

He added: The atmosphere at night was amazing you could hear everything for miles around. We could hear blue whales, and even saw one during the day. It rocked the boat as it went underneath us truly the most enormous thing I have ever seen. A sea turtle came right up to us on another day and started eating the barnacles on the boat.

Asked how return to normal life felt, Joe Thompson said:
Its weird being back, weird being in big crowds. Weve just about recovered physically, and emotionally were fine. We feel proud to have achieved this and to have raised money for our chosen charities, and were now committed to continuing to raise money for them in coming months.

Kate Bleasdale, Executive Vice Chairman of HCL, said:
We are tremendously proud of Chris and Joe for achieving this rare and remarkable feat, and for proudly displaying the HCL logo right across the Atlantic. Their adventure reflects the HCL values of ambition, entrepreneurialism and resilience. We are also pleased to support two very deserving charities via our sponsorship, for which Chris and Joe will continue to raise funds and awareness back in the UK.


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