Injured British soldiers set off on trans-Atlantic row

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Four British servicemen who were seriously injured in Iraq or Afghanistan set off Monday from Spain's Canary Islands on a trans-Atlantic rowing challenge to raise money for charity.

After bidding tearful farewells to their families on the dock of the port of the island of La Gomera, they departed on their voyage of about 3,000 miles (4,800 kilometres) to the Caribbean island of Barbados.

Dubbed "Row2Recovery", the trip is expected to last 50-60 days, depending on weather conditions.

Two of the team members had one of their legs amputated, one needed a double above-knee amputation while the fourth was left with his right leg shorter than the other following surgery for a severed nerve and needs a leg brace to walk.

Another two soldiers without injuries will accompany the injured soldiers on the voyage, taking the total crew on the boat to six.

They face myriad challenges: battling towering waves and driving rain during storms, navigating around huge cargo ships and sharks, and trying to make sure the small boat does not capsize in choppy waters.

"Compared to some of the things we did in our last job, it's not as scary. But it's still unknown territory," Lieutenant Will Dixon, who lost his left leg below the knee in a 2009 bomb blast in Afghanistan, told AFP last week.

The team hopes to raise over £1 million ($1.6 million, 1.16 million euros) for three charities supporting wounded servicemen. They have already collected over £600,000 in pledges.

"We are hoping that what we are doing can inspire other servicemen and their families who have gone through similar or worse experiences," Row2Recovery spokesman Sam Peters said.

The team members will alternate between two hours of rowing and rest periods of the same duration.

The injured crewmen's prosthetic limbs will be rinsed with fresh water every two hours to wash away salt and dirt and cut the risk of infection.

Their progress can be followed on their website

© 2011 AFP

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