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Amputee team to row across Atlantic

INJURED ex-serviceman Cayle Royce from Dart­mouth has been selected to lead the first all-amputee team to row the Atlantic.
The four military veterans will battle the elements and extreme mental and physical hardship when they take on the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge, dubbed the world’s toughest rowing race, later this year.
After intense weeks of competition, the final Row2Recovery team has been announced to take part in the challenge on December 15 from La Gomera in the Canary Islands, finishing roughly six weeks later in Antigua. This year 29 crews have been entered into the race but the other 28 are all able-bodied.
Light Dragoon Lance Corporal Royce, 29, who took part in the 3,000-mile race two years ago, suffered serious injuries while serving in Afghanistan that put him in a coma for more than a month.
He underwent a double amputation and lost the fingers on his left hand following an IED blast in Helmand while serving in the Brigade Reconnaissance Force.
He said he was relishing the prospect of skippering the all-amputee team.
‘Last time the challenge was the relentless weather and, for week after week, we endured driving rain, 60ft breaking waves and at one point around midnight the boat capsized and I was thrown over board,’ he recalled. ‘That wasn’t funny, but I’ve warned the crew that the biggest challenge will be the endless boredom.’
Lance Corporal Royce said the race wasn’t just physically rigorous but was a mental game too.
‘The secret is to be patient,’ he said.
‘When the conditions are against you, wait, do nothing. When the conditions are good, work hard.
‘As military guys working as a team is second nature to us and soldiers’ banter and good humour will get us through the tough times.
‘We’re trained to focus on the things that matter.
‘A happy boat is a successful boat and we are a very happy, friendly crew.’
Renowned for its tough conditions, participants typically row in two-hour shifts, with two-hour rest periods, for 24 hours a day.
Competitors burn around 8,000 calories daily and lose roughly 20 per cent of their body weight over the duration of the race.
Alongside physical exertion, the rowers will face huge waves, tropical storms, sleep deprivation, sweltering heat and the psychological challenges of living and working in a turbulent natural environment.
Trooper Royce will be joined by Paddy Gallagher, aged 30, from Cambridge­shire, who was injured in Afghan­istan while serving with the Irish Guards; 56-year-old Nigel Rogof, from Hereford, who lost his leg while taking part in an RAF parachuting display; and 46-year-old Lee Spencer, from Yelverton, in Devon, who after coming through three operational tours of Afghanistan unscathed, lost his right leg below the knee when he was struck by debris when he stopped to rescue a seriously injured motorist on the M3 in January last year.
He said: ‘I was lying in bed at Headley Court quite early on in my recovery process and couldn’t sleep. In the bed next to me was Cayle – he’d just come back from the last Row2Recovery race and was buzzing.
‘His stories and enthusiasm fired something up in me and I just knew that this was something I wanted do.
‘I feel so lucky and deeply privileged to be selected to be part of the team and can’t wait to get started.
‘I’m looking forward to seeing the flying sharks and experiencing the relief and achievement of finshing.’
The team will be raising money for Help for Heroes, Blemsa, Prince Harry’s Endeavour Fund and Row2Recovery.
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