A ROWER from Cirencester is celebrating after crossing the Atlantic Ocean, breaking a world record and raising £100,000 for charity.

Chris Hodgson, a former Malmesbury School pupil, was part of a five-man team, alongside Kevin Gaskell, Matt Gaskell, Will Hollingshead and Sam Coxen, who rowed more than 3,000 miles as part of the Talisker Whiskey Atlantic Challenge.

The challenge saw ‘The Ocean 5’ race 34 other teams from the Canary Islands to Antigua, all to raise money for charity.

Setting off at the start of December, the team battled strong winds and high tides while spending Christmas, New Year and Chris’ birthday out at sea.

The team finished in fourth place overall with a time of 35 days, 19 hours and 10 minutes – and beat the world record for a five-man team by 23 hours.

“We had a really strong start and we had our eye on the record but then it went totally calm in the middle,” Chris said.

“We lost hope, but then we started getting really strong winds in the final third of the challenge and we grew hope again.”

To achieve the world record, there was always two members of the team rowing at one time.

“We had a system, two hours on, two hours off,” Chris continued.

“You were not always sleeping on your two hours off either, there were jobs to do, and sometimes it was too hot in the day to sleep, it could get up to about 40 degrees in the cabin at points.

“The headwind days were some of the most challenging, where we would be rowing into the wind, it was soul destroying. And when it got windy, the waves grew bigger.

“We did have a capsize, where a couple of the guys ended up in the water, but thankfully we are always tied onto the boat, but it was scary. Luckily, the boat self rights. The whole ordeal lasted around three minutes and then we were off and back to normal again.”

Chris added: “One of the highlights of the challenge was night time, there was no noise, no light pollution, it was unbelievable. And the wildlife was incredible too, we saw a pod of dolphins, sharks, turtles.”

It has been just over three weeks now since the team set off flares as they approached the finish before they were reunited with their families.

Chris said: "We are thrilled to announce that so far we have raised over £100,000 for The Plastic Soup Foundation, a charity doing great work in trying to prevent plastic waste ending up in our precious oceans.

"This has been possible through our corporate sponsors as well as all the donations from friends, family and the general public so a huge thanks to everyone that has contributed so far.

"Although the row itself is complete, we are still pushing hard to try and raise even more money for this worthy charity.

Donations can be made via the website www.theocean5.com and will be passed directly to the The Plastic Soup Foundation.