British team set record in fundraising pedal across the Atlantic

The team mid-way across the Atlantic. Credit: Pedal the Pond
  • Video report by ITV News Reporter Helena Carter

Four friends who battled wind, rain and heavy storms have set a world record after becoming the first people to pedal a boat across the Atlantic.

Hector Turner, Paddy Johnson, Henry Quinlan and Max Mossman smashed their aim of completing the 3,000 miles journey from Gran Canaria to Antigua in under 50 days, arriving on Friday, 40 days after they set off.

The four men who met at the University of Oxford, were inspired to act in a bid to raise money for, and awareness of, mental health.

They said the cause was close to their hearts, with all of them knowing people who had struggled with depression - and in some cases, who had taken their own lives.

Despite so-far raising more than £167,000 for the Charlie Waller Memorial Trust, the quartet also hope that their journey will raise awareness of mental health in young men.

Just the fact that their own friends and family are now talking about mental health issues helps them feel that they are making their mark, they told ITV News.

Mr Turner described seeing land at the end of their journey as "surreal and overwhelming", while Mr Johnson said the team were very "thankful" for all the support they had received.

Recalling the toughest parts of their journey, including pedalling through torrential rain for three days, Mr Johnson said that they all focused on the fact that they were "doing it for something they believed in and had chosen to be there".

He continued that he would never forget the "very, very special" and "emotional journey", but was currently looking forward to "some decent food and a couple of beers".

The pair added that their next stint on a pedalo would probably involve nothing more challenging that a day-trip off the south coast of England and an ice-cream.

The team clocked up 4.9 million pedal rotations between them. Credit: Pedal the Pond

Since they are the first people to voyage across the Atlantic by pedalo, the pedallers also set records for the fastest pedalo, and the first four man pedalo, to make the journey.

The team took it in turns to complete two-hour shifts of pedalling in pairs, clocking up 4.9 million rotations between them in their journey which is the same distance as travelling between Lands End and John O'Groats five times.

Clare Stafford, CEO, of the Charlie Waller Memorial Trust praised the "tremendous fundraising effort" and said they were in "awe of what these four young men have achieved.

"They've shown physical endurance, grit and determination whilst keeping high spirits throughout the whole of their challenge.

"Not only have this been a tremendous fundraising effort, but it has also been fantastic awareness raising about the importance of talking about mental health.

The journey took the team 40 days. Credit: Pedal the Pond

Speaking about the need to raise awareness of mental health issues, Mr Mossman said: "In a lot of suicide cases, friends and family say they had no idea the sufferer had any problems. It is vital that people understand they are not alone and help in available."

Mr Johnson added: "If we can stand-up and talk about mental health symptoms in the public sphere, we feel we may be able to encourage other people to do the same.

"We hope that the interest sparked by Pedal The Pond will lead to more people getting the help they need before it's too late."

The Charlie Waller Memorial Trust was set up by his family after he took his won life aged 28 in 1997, and works to increase awareness of the warning signs of depression among young people - as well as encourage anyone dealing with depression to seek help.