Rowing: Transtasman rowers at top of NZ

The Team Gallagher Challenge rowing crew - Martin Berka, Nigel Cherrie, Andrew McCowan and James Blake - round North Cape on their epic transtasman trip. Photo / SNPA
The Team Gallagher Challenge rowing crew - Martin Berka, Nigel Cherrie, Andrew McCowan and James Blake - round North Cape on their epic transtasman trip. Photo / SNPA

They've endured chronic blisters, a broken rudder and heavy seas - but land is finally in sight for a team of Kiwi rowers.

The four members of Team Gallagher set off for Auckland from Sydney 50 days ago aiming to row from harbour bridge to harbour bridge across the Tasman Sea.

Nigel Cherrie, Martin Berka, Andrew McCowan and James Blake - son of yachting legend Sir Peter Blake - set off on November 27 in their boat Moana for the 2500km voyage.

The team had hoped to beat a 31-day trans-tasman record set in 2007 by four Australians, who rowed in the opposite direction from New Zealand to Australia.

"I promised my wife I'd be home for Christmas - I'm a little bit late," Cherrie told TV3.

The rowers' voyage has been hindered by extreme weather, broken equipment and injuries, and being confined to a 10.5m long by 2m wide boat with no home comforts such as a shower, kitchen, comfy bed or toilet had taken its toll.

"There were times we seriously didn't think we were going to make it," Cherrie said.

"There were a couple of discussions on board whether we had to head back to Australia at some stages."

On Saturday, the team rounded Cape Reinga and in the next two to three days they will berth somewhere south of Cape Brett to stock up on supplies.

To fuel the half-million oar strokes needed to cross the Tasman, the rowers consume a fat-rich diet of 8000 to 10,000 calories a day but each will still lose about 20 per cent of their body weight.

To maximise their speed and efficiency, the rowers have been working in shifts with two hours at the oars and two hours off to replenish.

- Staff reporter

- NZ Herald

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