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Margaret Bowling sets off a smoke flare to alert Victorian Water Police to the boat's position.

Bass Strait expedition ends in injury

  • BY AAP with Rebecca Baker |
  • February 01, 2012

AG Society sponsored crew forced to abandon expedition after team leader Ben Turner breaks his elbow.

THREE AG SOCIETY SPONSORED ocean rowers arrived back in Victoria today after their boat capsized in rough Bass Strait seas. Their rescue required a 16-hour operation.

The crew made it to shore around 2am (AEDT) on Wednesday, aboard the water police boat Fearless, after team leader Ben Turner, 27, broke his elbow.

The group were hoping to raise money for cystic fibrosis research, but three days into their journey they were forced to call off their attempt to row from Wilsons Promontory to Tasmania, as part of their George Bass Expedition.

Ben says he had been inside the seven-metre boat's cabin riding out a vicious storm, along with skipper Margaret Bowling, 32, and Clark Carter, 27, when a rough wave hit them from the side and the boat capsized. "As designed, the boat rolled back on itself, but unfortunately during that roll I injured myself," he told reporters.

First Australian woman to row an ocean

Although there are many dangers involved in adventure expeditions, the team was well equipped to face any challenges. Margaret was the first Australian woman to row an ocean, and only one of three Australians to have ever done so. Clark, along with adventurer Chris Bray, made the first traverse of Victoria Island in the Arctic Circle on an AG Society sponsored expedition. Clark has also paddled the entire length of the Sepik River in Papua New Guinea.

For the last two years Ben has been planning to be the first Australian and the youngest person ever to row across the Pacific Ocean solo, non-stop and unassisted. He's estimated it will take him 10 months to complete the 17,000km journey from Peru to Sydney. Ben also hopes to raise $1,000,000 and awareness for cystic fibrosis.

The George Bass Expedition was the main sea trial for Ben's 'Pacific Quest' row - also sponsored by the AG Society - which has a planned departure date of April this year. 

The team considered continuing their journey across the Bass Strait, but called for help as Ben was unable to row with his injury.

Ben has told reporters that his Pacific Quest expedition will not be cancelled. "Still have to find that cure! Thanks for all the support," he wrote on the crew's blog.

See the George Bass Expedition blog here

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