INTREPID ocean rower Elaine Theaker and her Team FlyinFish crew mates are ‘thrilled’ to be making progress again after rudder woes left them marooned at anchor for five days and considering calling it a day.

The retired Abergavenny solicitor and River Wye oarswoman’s boat are still some four days behind the rest of the fleet in the 2,800-mile Pacific ‘World’s Toughest Row’, “waddling along like a little duckling trying to keep up”.

But they have seen “two whales close by blowing and porpoising along before going down” and a huge sun fish that eye-balled Dingestow crew mate Huw Carden so closely he couldn’t row “for fear of bopping him on the head with an oar”.

Monmouth Rowing Club member Elaine, who rowed across the Atlantic five years ago, Huw and the rest of the crew set off from Monterey in California on June 12, heading for Hawaii.

But in the second week, days after Elaine celebrated her 60th birthday, they discovered their rudder was missing after a night on the para anchor.

Crew mate Andy Warner from Hampshire has now posted how close they came to having to pull the plug on the trip, after their boat Voyager wouldn’t turn in the right direction despite all their efforts next morning.

Retired RAF serviceman Huw then took a look under the water with the Go Pro and exclaimed “there’s a hole where the rudder should be!”

Andy added: “We had a spare rudder with us but replacing it with what was left of the old one in high seas would be impossible.

“So there we waited for five nights when sleeping three in the bow cabin is nigh on impossible.

“I slept out on deck – dealing with the bone chilling cold was better than trying to squeeze bodies a plenty into the cabin,

“The fateful day came where a decision was made to go for the rudder to be fitted after days’ worth of how we are going to tackle it.

“Seas weren’t ideal, far from it, so we set everything up to go...

“I knew the sea temp was chilly and I knew I didn’t have a long go at the task, so I worked along the side of the boat to the stern and wrestled and wrangled the rudder, which is very buoyant, into the hole.

“I got the shaft in and tried to wrangle the rudder to the vertical so that it goes into the housing, (but) at the point the lanyard came off the rudder, so first attempt was aborted and I got dragged back into the boat exhausted from the effort.

“Phase two was Huw (and) this was it, last roll of the dice.

“If Huw failed we’d have to retire from the event or at worse initiate a rescue and lose our boat.

“Huw jumped in and worked his way around to the back, and wrestled with it, but couldn’t quite get the rudder to vertical.

“But after five minutes of wrestling, the rudder popped in.”

Praising ocean novice Huw’s ‘courage’, he added: “Staying with it and getting the job done, when you have the stern of a two-tonne boat bouncing six feet up and down in swelling seas... immense.

“We’re thrilled just to be making progress let alone still be in the race, as retirement post rudder lost looked a very likely outcome.”

And in another post on Saturday, he revealed that the wind had finally “shifted off to the rear quarter which helps propel Voyager’s still considerably lardy ass along, but everything is working fine since the rudder went AWOL.

“It’s a joy to see the miles coming off the total to the finish, just puts everyone in a good mood.

“We’re looking forward to bigger following seas and really doing some Rannoch surfing!” he added.

The other crew members are Ali Wannell from Devon, and Neil Blackeby from Cornwall.

You can keep up to speed with Team FlyinFish’s progress at, on their YouTube channel and

To support their charities, go to – Air Ambulance – and – SSAFA.