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JUNE 27: PROSTABLOG NZ: Confusing news from the Indian Ocean – two boats seem to have won the 2009 rowing race, despite one crossing the finish line more than 30 hours ahead of the other.

The eights team, Aud Eamus, led over the past few days, got to Mauritius first around 4pm on June 25 GMT and was feted with a press release saying they smashed the 38-year-0ld race record by six days. They did it in 58 days, 15 hours.

But then, more than a day later at 10.40pm GMT on June 26, the fours crew, Bexhill Trust Challenger, which led most of the race, got to the finish and was acclaimed the winner.

We’re obviously missing something here, a rule perhaps lurking in the eights boat’s designation as an “open” entry, whatever that means.

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Here’s what the race website announced at 4.29pm on June 25:

A multi-national crew of eight amateur rowers (6 men and 2 women) today smashed a record that has remained unbroken for 38 years, for the fastest ever crossing of the Indian Ocean by rowing boat.

The elite crew, rowing a custom built 36ft long ocean rowing boat named ‘Aud Eamus’, set off from Geraldton, Western Australia on the 28 April 2009.  Having rowed a mammoth 3,132 nautical miles across the treacherous and unpredictable Indian Ocean, these audacious eight arrived today at Mauritius, after just 58 days, 15 hours and 08 minutes at sea, knocking an impressive six days off the previous route record.

The crew of eight comprising British nationals Simon Chalk (36), Ian Couch (39), Helen Taylor (22) and Paul Cannon (39), Americans Angela Madsen (49), Doug Tumminello (43), and Brian Flick (23), together with Bernard Fissett (46) from Belgium, were all recruited by nautical events company, Woodvale Challenge Ltd as part of the Woodvale Works Team concept.

Bringing a range of skills, adventure, ocean rowing and ultra endurance experience with them, the crew of Aud Eamus was assembled specifically with the aim of setting an Indian Ocean rowing crossing speed record.  Through their success in achieving this goal, they also claim a number of other Indian Ocean rowing records that include the first eight man crew, the first paraplegic (Angela Madsen), the first females (Angela Madsen and Helen Taylor) and the first person to row the Indian Ocean twice (Simon Chalk).

Then on June 26, a few minutes before midnight, this was announced:

After rowing a colossal 3,132 nautical miles, non-stop across the Indian Ocean, Britons Phil McCorry, (24), brother Nick McCorry (25), Matt Hellier (20) and Ian Allen (25), crew members of Boat No. 7 ‘Bexhill Trust Challenger’, made history today by winning the first ever Indian Ocean Rowing Race 2009.

Two months previously, these intrepid four life long friends from Bexhill, East Sussex set off from Geraldton, Western Australia together with nine other international crews in this unique, ultra-endurance, ocean adventure. 68 days, 19 hours and 40 minutes later, the Bexhill Trust Challenger, a 29ft long purposely designed composite ocean rowing boat, triumphantly crossed the finish line off the beautiful island of Mauritius at 2240hrs GMT today, Friday 26th June 2009.

By winning the Race, the crew of the Bexhill Trust Challenger have also become the first ever team of four to row across the Indian Ocean and crew member, Matt Hellier at the age of 20, is the youngest.

Meantime, at reporting in time about 6pm last night, third placed boat Pura Vida (the women’s four rowing for breast cancer) had 336 miles to go, while the Kiwi four Rowing For Prostate had 553

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ODD-US-NEWZEALAND-KEY-ARMMAY 16: PROSTABLOG NZ:  An unexpected call from Kiwi PM John Key (right) to let the Rowing For Prostate team know how proud he is of them and to invite them to meet him on their return has spurred the team on in the Indian Ocean Rowing Race. 

The Prime Minister also offered the crew some advice on their watermaker problems, reports the race website: “It seems that even the Prime Minister of New Zealand has become an avid blob watcher! ”

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The team (shown in this Stuff.co.nz photograph before leaving to compete) remains in third place,

Long-time leaders Pura Vida, are now being chased down by earlier leaders Bexhill Trust Challenger, whose northerly route may be starting to pay off.

Bexhill has cut the women’s four lead from more than 100 miles to 69, the smallest it’s been for more than a week.

This despite Bexhill being hit by a freak giant wave that nearly knocked two crew members out of the boat.

While the Rowing for Prostate crew cross the Indian Ocean, Hamish Ladbroke – who had been part of the New Zealand team but was forced to pull out because his niece was suffering from cancer – has been rowing for two hours every day since the start of the race almost a month ago.

The race website says Hamish has been raising awareness of the Rowing for Prostate entry and much need funds for the charity by taking his rowing machine to the cold streets of Wanaka, near Queenstown.   He vows not to give up on his dry rowing challenge until he has reached the fund target of $10,000.

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