Two British doctors have left Western Australia on a bid to set a new world record for crossing the Indian Ocean, despite hitting trouble before they even began after rodents ate through their food supplies.
Ted Welman and Jack Faulkner set off on Thursday afternoon from the coastal city of Geraldton in WA’s Mid West, with almost 6,000 kilometres of ocean ahead of them.
The pair plan to row non-stop to the island nation of Mauritius in less than 85 days, which stands as the current duo-rowing record.
“I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t absolutely terrified … [it’s] all of a bit of an unknown, but hopefully we’ll be alright,” said Mr Faulkner.
Mr Welman and Mr Faulkner have spent 14 months preparing for the journey.
A number of rowers have run into trouble while attempting to cross the Indian Ocean, including two other British men who had to be rescued just days into their second attempt in 2015.
Two years earlier, Dutch adventurer Ralph Tuijn was trying to row solo across the Indian Ocean when a tanker overturned his vessel at night time.
His boat was badly damaged and he had to be rescued.
Rodents leave boat ‘a little bit lighter’
Mr Welman and Mr Faulkner encountered trouble on dry land when rodents ate through a significant amount of their rations about a week before they were due to leave.
Mr Welman said they were left with just enough food for their record bid and were treating it as an incentive to row faster.
“It’s made the boat a little bit lighter,” he said.
“We’ve basically replaced that space with all sorts of fun things … we got a nice bottle of whisky … and lots of fishing stuff as well.”
The pair recently finished eight years of medical training and hope to raise £100,000 for the charity Médecins Sans Frontières.
In 2014, Victorian policeman Tim Spiteri and his seven-person crew smashed the world record for the fastest-ever crossing of the Indian Ocean, from Geraldton to the Seychelles in 57 days.
Mr Welman and Mr Faulkner’s progress can be tracked online.