Benedict Tufnell

Dutch Four Beat The Elements To Win Atlantic Rowing Race

by Benedict Tufnell

In the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge, team the Dutch Atlantic Four became the first ever Dutch team to win this exhilarating race deemed to be the ‘world’s toughest row’. Showing true grit and determination, the foursome persevered through challenging weather conditions to cross the Atlantic Ocean as the first and fastest ever Dutch team of four, reaching the finish line in 34 days, 12 hours and 9 minutes.

“The row challenged us more than we could have imagined, but we faced the elements and came out the other side … “

Marcel Ates (58), Erik Koning (51), Bart Adema (34) and David de Brujin (33) arrived in Antigua in the early evening to be greeted by a huge crowd of family, friends and people of the small Caribbean island, who have eagerly awaited the winning team’s arrival. With still seas and calm winds throughout their 3,000-mile row, Dutch Atlantic Four have had to fight for their position using incredible mental strength and resilience. Alongside this, the team faced a constant battle throughout the race for first place from two UK teams, Oar Inspiring and the Nauti Buoys. Nonetheless, their rowing prowess kept them just out of reach of the determined Brits, with Oar Inspiring now expected to reach Antigua less than 24 hours after the Dutch, proving an exciting and extremely close race.

Skipper, Marcel, comments: “The row challenged us more than we could have imagined, but we faced the elements and came out the other side of this journey together as a team with a new found respect for the ocean, which was like a dancefloor where our little boat was dancing on the waves. We had a relentless chase by two of the British teams, Oar Inspiring and the Nauti Buoys, and it meant that it pushed all of us to our limits; passing the first way point we realised we were in front and we agreed to defend it like lions. It really has been the adventure of a lifetime, an opportunity to step away from our daily routines and achieve something incredible.”

2018 Race winners the Dutch Atlantic Four at the finish line of the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge. © BEN DUFFY

Each of the team members have spent a great amount of time on water doing river rowing adventures, but the race was their first experience of ocean rowing, unlike anything that they’ve done before. Dutch Atlantic Four rowed the Atlantic to raise funds and awareness for Precious Plastic and Kika. Precious Plastic are a global community of hundreds of people working towards a solution to plastic pollution, to help keep our oceans and environment protected for generations to come.

The Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge is a unique, life-changing experience. Each participant burns around 8,000 calories a day and loses approximately 20% of their body weight over the duration of the race. Alongside the physical challenge, they have to work together to stay mentally strong as they spend Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve away from their families during this transformational adventure, which usually lasts anywhere between 30-90 days. Through the hardships, they will also be privy to breathtaking moments, being close to nature, amazing sea life, and beautiful sunsets.

Lisa Everingham, Global Talisker Marketing Manager, comments: “We are delighted for the Dutch Atlantic Four and their determination in making the most out of every moment to become the 2019 race winners. To be able to support them in this life changing adventure and to be part of their journey has been a real privilege. The race is a truly unique experience and one that encourages the teams to switch off from their busy everyday lives, embrace the elements and rediscover what matters most.”

To track the progress of the remaining participants in the race, visit:,


  1. Brilliant team! So proud of these

  2. geweldig! Zo trots op deze mannen van stavast!

  3. Sue and andy grace

    Happened to see you in English HarbouR today. We know from hearing about the gruelling experience of 4 women from Yorkshire rowing the Atlantic what an amazing achievement this is. Well done.


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