TWO determined sailors who took on a gruelling challenge to row across the Atlantic in memory of a close friend have had to retire from the race after three months at sea.

Hannah Lawton, aged 25, a coach at Worcester Rowing Club, and her rowing partner Lauren Morton, 23, set off from La Gomera, Tenerife, in their Ocean Rowing boat in December as part of the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge.

They bravely fought to carry on and complete the challenge despite being the last team in the race after the other competitors finished weeks ago.

But after being besieged with setbacks over the last month including a fire in the cabin, their sat-nav breaking down and more recently having to contend with a broken rudder, the girls have called time on the race.

Writing in their race blog today (Tuesday) from a cargo ship heading for Canada, they said: "Rowing an ocean wasn’t ever going to be easy, we knew that things could go wrong, and be out of our control, safe to say we’ve had a few of these instances.

"Both of us have been amazed and overwhelmed by all of the support back home and really can’t thank everyone enough.

"We’ve spent the last month trying to make rudder fix, after rudder fix and nothing has worked in these conditions, we are now out of options.

So, with a heavy heart, we have had to make the decision to retire from the 2013 Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge.

"We set out to row the Atlantic not to drift it, and whilst the race is over for us this time, we are determined to continue raising awareness of cervical cancer and money for our chosen charities Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust and Myton Hospice."

The pair who study at the University of the West of England (UWE) are still hoping to raise £100,000 for Myton Hospice and Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust in memory of their friend Eleanor Rose Ellis who lost her battle with cervical cancer last May, aged just 23.

To donate, visit