A CREW of four women training for major charity rowing event, the Atlantic Challenge, had to be rescued by Isle of Wight lifeboat crews in a joint operation lasting several hours.
The rowing team, There She Rows, who will be aiming to raise money by doing the 3,000-nautical mile Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge in December, got into difficulties off St Catherine's Point yesterday afternoon (Wednesday).
They were rowing between Falmouth and Lymington when they raised the alarm with the coastguard.
Sandown and Shanklin Independent Lifeboat (SSIL) was launched after reports the rowers got into severe problems with a strong tide and a Force 5-6 westerly breeze off the south of the Island.
The stricken crew — training for the Atlantic Challenge in which they are likely to face extreme weather and waves of up to 40ft in height — were initially rescued by the SSIL crew, but were later transferred to Bembridge RNLI's all-weather lifeboat in Sandown Bay after they were later requested to help.
The women, described by an SSIL spokesman as being "quite exasperated" and "very tired and withdrawn" when rescued, were later taken to Bembridge RNLI lifeboat station.
They aim to row from La Gomera in the Canary Islands to Antigua — deemed one of the toughest challenges on earth.
A Bembridge RNLI spokesperson said: "We arrived on the scene at 5.48pm and, after assessing the situation, it was agreed between the teams it was too dangerous to tow the rowing boat with the crew on board, so they were transferred to our team."
Meanwhile, SSIL towed the rowing boat to its mooring off Sandown.
The crew were later reunited with their boat, Sariba, which had been towed by Bembridge RNLI back to the station last night, with the operation stood down at 9.15pm.
"It was a great multi-team effort tonight," said Bembridge RNLI.
SSIL operations manager, Mark Birch, added; "The vessels the women used are very good across the Atlantic because they have a westerly wind behind them, but they are very difficult to manoeuvre."