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Club News

How Frank Crossed The Atlantic

16 February 2024

Club News

How Frank Crossed The Atlantic

16 February 2024

64 days in the ocean, months of preparation and setbacks of the most challenging nature.

Chairman Frank Rothwell has seen it all on his journey to setting a new world record as the oldest person to have ever rowed across an ocean solo.

Frank arrived in English Harbour, Antigua, on Thursday 15 February at just after 5.30pm UK time after successfully navigating the unique perils of the Atlantic Ocean.

The hugely emotional scenes as Frank was reunited with Judith, his wife of 53 years, and the rest of his family, were the culmination of 64 brutal days.

That Frank remarked this was the toughest challenge anyone could ever face is a measure of the adversity he encountered in the ocean.

All of this whilst raising vital funds for Alzheimer’s Research UK, a cause close to Frank’s heart.

This is the story of how our chairman tackled the world’s toughest row…

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December 2022

Frank undergoes open heart surgery at Liverpool Heart & Chest Hospital, returning for the televised match against Torquay United in the middle of December.

He takes time off to recover, but eventually returns to his old, jovial self, and is full of energy once more.

May 2023

After hosting the community cricket match at Boundary Park and doing donuts on the pitch with RRG, Frank begins to eye up an even bigger challenge.

August 2023

Frank announces that he’s set to row the Atlantic for a second time, looking to beat his world record as the oldest person to row the Atlantic solo.

“This time I’m doing it for a cure, because that’s what we’re all working towards,” Frank announced.

September 2023

With Latics travelling to Gateshead for a televised match on the Tyne, Frank decides to take his boat up to the north east, setting it up beside the pitch.

After completing a round of interviews for the cameras, he then travelled on to Scotland for further training, with just under three months to go.

October 2023

Frank meets Sir Malcolm Walker and Richard Walker from Iceland Foods Charitable Foundation, where they agree to match the first £100,000 in donations received.

It follows on from a similar donation they made during his previous row, where they matched every penny donated by the public.

November 2023

After featuring on Granada Reports, Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney, co-chairmen of Wrexham, make a $2,000 donation and show their support with a good luck tweet.

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December 2023

Two weeks from the planned start date, Frank sets off for the Canary Islands, celebrating his arrival with a rendition of The Wanderer atop his boat ‘For A Cure’ in the harbour.

12th December

The planned start date is pushed back due to poor weather, to allow all participants the best and safest chance of getting out the harbour.

13th December

Setting off from La Gomera at 9:39am, Frank was the last of 38 boats to depart, but was still in good spirits, reportedly singing as he disappeared over the horizon.

18th December

Conditions were far from ideal, causing motion sickness and nausea, draining Frank of his energy.

He then capsized and went overboard, which shook Frank as he’d never experienced that on any of his previous trips or training, but thankfully he was saved by the harness he was wearing.

To prevent any further problems, he had to deploy his para-anchor, which stabalises the boat during windy conditions, and allowed him to recuperate and recover.

22nd December

In the middle of his pre-match press conference, Micky Mellon receives a surprise phone call from the Atlantic.

Communication between him and Frank is tough due to the satellite position, but eventually they get there, and are able to hear each other, with Frank commenting on the tough conditions he’s faced.

25th December

Frank had to leave all his presents at home to keep the boat light, but was able to enjoy some chicken and stuffing… crisps, on board his boat.

30th December

Latics take to the field against Hartlepool in their third kit, adorned with Alzheimer’s Research UK’s logo.

Goals from Josh Stones and Mike Fondop saw out 2023 with a win, and the shirts were auctioned off, raising over £12,000.

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4th January

Frank approaches the halfway point and sails past the 1,000 nautical mile mark, having put all the troubles of weeks prior behind him.

He’s averaging 50 miles a day, and is making good progress toward the Caribbean.

“I’m buzzing at the moment,” Frank commented, “I’m sleeping well, last night I only woke up twice, things are going great.”

12th January

Some technical difficulties had prevented Frank from sending any photographs over, until he connected to a new satellite.

But he did manage to fire over this photo of a flying fish, which would land in his boat all hours of the day.

17th January

As BBC Weather celebrated its 70th birthday, Frank teamed up with them to deliver his own weather report from his boat.

“If you were in Blackpool you’d think it was great.”

20th January

Frank rowed a personal best of 71 miles in a single day, made even more impressive by the fact his R10 boat was the smallest of any in the race.

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24th January

With two more 70-mile days under his belt, Frank rolled over the 2,000 nautical mile-mark, and was making progress beyond expectations.

1st February

The weather turned against Frank once again, forcing him to deploy the para-anchor as he remained stationary, or drifted around in circles.

“The wind is against us, the current is against us, all the mileage I made earlier on today has now been lost.”

After three days of inaction, conditions improved, and he was able to get going again.

7th February

Sky Sports catch up with Frank, with him being nine or ten days away from Antigua.

Ambitious Frank, as ever, lays out his goal of reaching the island in seven days, so he can be with his wife Judith on Valentine’s Day.

“Judith and I have been married for 53 years, to be with her after being away for two months would be really exciting.”

9th February

The winds, once more, go against Frank, but with the forecast set to change the following day, he’s still confident of covering the 250 miles in just a few days, with the aim of arriving for the 14th.

13th February

80 miles to go, and a Valentine’s Day arrival is within reach, but unfortunately, a momentary change in conditions force Frank to slow down, and he has to spend another night in the Atlantic.

15th February

After a slight detour around the coast, arrives in Antigua to a standing ovation on the dock, with dozens of camera and photographers present.

Exhausted, Frank enjoyed a special moment with those close to him, hugging his wife of 53 years after three months apart.

After catching his breath, he was officially presented with his world record, beating his own milestone as the oldest person to row the Atlantic solo.

There’s no better time to donate to Frank, with his total over the £280,000 mark.

Everyone at Oldham Athletic is so proud of you and everything you’ve done over the past two months, Frank.

We can’t wait to welcome you back for the Kidderminster Harriers game.

Photo credit: Atlantic Campaigns / World's Toughest Row

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