Tasman Rowers Rawlinson & Richmond flip

Sad news today from the Tasman Sea where Grant Rawlinson and Luke Richmond have been battling the elements since Saturday night when they left Eden, New South Wales to attempt their crossing to New Zealand…

Speaking via Satellite phone this morning, Axe said that after a rather brutal capsize on Tuesday, both he and Luke have decided that it is not safe to continue and they’ve made the decision to turn Simpson’s Donkey around and head back to Australia.

The capsize, according to Axe, came via a rather large wave which threatened to pitch-pole the boat. Pitch-poling is a worst case scenario when the boat is tipped end-over-end rather than a normal, vanilla-flavoured capsize which tips the boat over sideways.

The event underlined just how fickle luck is on the Tasman… and how much of that luck is needed to cross it.

“Luckily the boat tipped sideways at the last possible moment,” said Axe. “Because Luke was on deck at the time and it would have been very dangerous if we’d pitch-poled with him outside on deck.”

While the capsize is not unexpected – Axe is now a veteran of numerous capsizes after two previous attempts at crossing the Tasman in Simpson’s Donkey – Axe did say that he’d hoped that by having two people aboard, that they could avoid capsizes.

This, he said, was because with two people on board, they’d be able to have someone on deck 24 hours a day steering the boat with the swell to avoid tipping over.

However this doesn’t seem to have worked and it’s become apparent that while Simpson’s Donkey is a fantastic craft in the more predictable Atlantic Ocean, it struggles in the swirling, temperamental and unpredictable Tasman.

And so with still so far to go and without the confidence that both Axe and Luke will be safe, the decision has been made to turn back before something much worse happens.

“We’re a bit shaken, but it could have been much worse and we both feel that to continue would be possibly pushing the limits of acceptable risk in this boat and in these seas.”

Axe also mentioned that Luke, who has previously crossed the Atlantic in a similar rowing boat, has commented that the Tasman Sea is a much wilder and dangerous beast than what he had experienced on the Atlantic.

So now you will notice by looking at the GPS tracker that Axe and Luke have turned the boat around and are currently working overtime to get the boat into position for a predicted change of winds that will push them back towards the Australian mainland.

And over the next few days the guys are going to row as hard as they can to make it back to safety without having to abandon the boat out there.

Despite the bad news, “spirits are high on board,” Axe says. “So please let everyone know we’re fine and not injured in any way – this decision has been made simply for safety reasons.”

“It is a very wild place we’re in at the moment and I feel very privileged to be able to see it and experience it. Last night we were rowing all night without any moon and it was pitch-black with clouds and rain and strong winds tossing us about everywhere.”

“It was an extremely eery feeling – It feels like we’re at the end of the earth and any wrong move can have serious consequences, so we’re doing all we can to stay safe and get back home in one piece.”

Messages of support have a great effect in situations like these, so if you’ve got some positive words to say, please do leave them below and we’ll pass them on.

Stay tuned for more updates.

And in the meantime – check out the guys’ progress on the GPS tracker here –

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