Sunday, December 15th, 2019

Amputees take on Atlantic Challenge

Published on January 19, 2016 by   ·   No Comments

2_3And they’re off… On Sunday 20 December, 54 rowers set off from La Gomera to row across the Atlantic competing in the 2016 Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge aka “The world’s toughest row”.

Leaving the Canary Island five days later than planned due to strong northerlies, the rowers will cover nearly 3,000 miles across the Atlantic Ocean and make landfall in Antigua after approximately six weeks of gruelling rowing.

This year sees the biggest race ever with 26 teams, ten more teams than competed last year. It’s a multinational event with competitors from Britain, the US, South Africa, Italy and a team of four from Antigua.

There are six solo rowers, 11 pairs and nine fours.


To put the row into perspective, over 4,000 people have climbed Everest but only 500 have ever rowed across the Atlantic.

One of the fours only has three legs between them and is appropriately named Four Men, Three Legs, One Ocean (#4men3legs1ocean).

The team is representing Row2Recovery who have had teams compete in the race before, but this year is the first that all four team members have been amputees.

The team will be led by serving Light Dragoon Lance Corporal Cayle Royce MBE. Cayle, 29, from Devon, underwent a double amputation and lost the fingers on his left hand following an IED blast in Helmand, Afghanistan in 2012. Unbelievably this will be Cayle’s second Atlantic Row – he was one of last year’s Row2Recovery team and completed the challenge in 48 days, 9 hours and 13 minutes, coming third in the race overall.

“Last time the challenge was the relentless weather; for week after week we endured driving rain, 60ft breaking waves at one point around midnight the boat capsized and I was thrown overboard. That wasn’t funny”, he recollected.

“But I’ve warned the crew that the biggest challenge will be the endless boredom.”

Next youngest member of this year’s crew is former Irish Guardsman Paddy Gallagher, 30, who lost his right leg below the knee in an IED blast in Afghanistan in 2009. Rowing alongside is his former RAF Flight Sergeant Parachute Jump Instructor, Nigel Rogoff, 56. Nigel lost his leg above the knee whilst taking part in a Royal Air Force parachuting display.


Completing the four is 46-year-old Royal Marine Colour Sergeant Lee Spencer, from Yelverton. After coming through three operational tours of Afghanistan unscathed, Lee lost his right leg below the knee after being hit by flying debris as he was helping save the life of a crashed civilian motorist on the central reservation of the M3 in Surrey.

Lee was inspired to compete in the challenge by team captain Cayle Royce who he met while they were both in hospital. “I was lying in bed in Headley Court quite early on in my recovery process and couldn’t sleep.

In the bed next to me was Cayle – he’d just come back from the last Row2Recovery race and was buzzing. His stories and enthusiasm fired something up in me and I just knew that this was something I wanted to do”.

The four men three legs one ocean team will be raising money for Help for Heroes, Blemsa, Prince Harry’s Endeavour Fund and Row2Recovery.

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