Former Peterhouse student and rowing talent Michael Johnson (21), was washed overboard a rowing boat during a transatlantic attempt in the early hours of Monday morning.
A statement published on the Oceanus Rowing website yesterday says that Johnson, who was part of an eight man crew, was washed overboard by a wave, and his safety line, attaching him to the ‘Toby Wallace’ rowing vessel broke.
“The force of the waves and wind conditions at the time caused Mike and the boat to move apart. The crew tried their utmost to stop the Toby Wallace and row back up into the conditions, but this proved impossible. They triggered their EPIRB (Emergency Position Information Reporting Beacon) and contacted UK HM Coastguard by Satellite Phone. The crew also deployed their life raft as a sea anchor, to slow their progress, in the hope that Michael would drift to their position,” reads part of the statement.
The Toby Wallace was attempting to set the world record for the fastest trans-Atlantic row, and departed the Canary Islands for Barbados on 28 January. They were mid-way between Africa and South America when the incident occurred.
Johnson’s friend, fellow rower and Peterhouse alumni, Murray Faber was also on board at the time. He and the remaining crew joined a rescue operation that included a cargo ship and two planes.
As the sun set on Monday there was no sign of the missing Johnson and the UK and Portuguese coastguards, who were coordinating the search, called it off. The Toby Wallace crew transferred to a rescue vessel and will be disembark when it next makes land.
According to the Oceanus statement, Johnson’s family who live in Zimbabwe, “are desperate for the search to continue and appeal to anyone who can help.”
Picture: The location of the Toby Wallace when Michael Johnson was washed overboard.