AFTER battling 60ft waves, terrible seasickness, dehydration and a number of capsizes, an amateur Kingswinford rower was this week just 500 nautical miles from achieving a feat very few people have ever done.

Biology teacher Lee Felton has spent the last two months stuck in the small confines of his boat as he rows across the Atlantic Ocean with his team-mate and friend Sean Lannon.

The pair, rowing as team SquareOneAtlantic, are taking part in what is known as ‘The World’s Toughest Race’ – the Talisker Whiskey Atlantic Challenge – rowing 10,000km across the pond.

Before he set off from La Gomera, in the Canary Islands, on December 20, 30-year-old Lee was confident of completing the epic challenge, but following a number of very hairy moments his confidence took a massive knock.

“After four days in I wanted to stop and get out,” Lee told the News, over a satellite phone from his boat. “We were getting smashed by 50 to 60ft waves – the height of my mum and dad’s house in Pensnett – the boat was getting flipped and I was badly seasick.

“The weather was terrifying to begin with. Usually when boats go out, they do it in calm weather just to get used to the sea - but we headed straight out into storms.

“I just didn’t feel safe in the boat. It’s not normal to be strapped into such a tight space being tossed around by the waves. It was like being in a super-fast spin in the washing machine.

“It got so bad at one stage that it was just impossible to row, so we had to drop the anchor and wait it out for three or four days.

“I’ve never been so scared in my life and that was after a few days; I kept thinking ‘I’ve got another 50 or so days of this’.”

On Christmas Eve, after experiencing some of the scariest moments of his life, Lee did what any man would do in that situation – he called his mum.

He said: “She was so worried about me, but I was really happy to hear her voice. After a few words with her, my girlfriend, my sister and a couple of my buddies who are out with the army in Iraq - they soon talked me round into sticking with it.

“And I’m so glad I did because I did get used to it, and as the weather has settled in recent weeks we have been able to really pick up our speed.

“Sean and I are actually very excited at the moment as we are down to almost 500 nautical miles to go, so our spirits are obviously quite high.

“We are getting quite a lot of distance done at night when the weather is a bit cooler. In the day we are spending about 14 hours in the direct line of the sun which has taken its toll on both of us.

“Sean has been rowing in the nude for quite a while now, but I have had to join him over the past few weeks as we are running desperately low on clothes – they’ve either gone overboard when we capsized or have been destroyed by the salt water.”

The pair are one of 26 teams attempting the challenge, which has been completed by fewer people than have been into space.

But with his confidence back up, and calmer waters in tow, Lee and Sean hope to reach English Harbour in Antigua in the next fortnight.

Lee said: “We can’t wait to finally make it to Antigua and see our family who are all flying over to greet us. We’ve really missed them and just getting to speak to them for a few minutes every couple of days has been really tough.

“They’ve been really supportive when things turned rough, for example our water maker broke so we have had to pump water by hand. It was a nightmare as all our food needs water and rowing for so long each day we obviously need fresh water, but we’ve got through it and coped well.

“But it’s not all been bad. We’ve had some fun along the way, keeping ourselves going by singing songs to each other and we’ve also made a music video which we’ll put online when we get home.

“There’s also been two birds following us the entire way, we even spotted eight or nine dolphins on one of the days, and the other night were rowing in the pitch black and something hit me in the head. I thought it was Sean at first, but when we looked up we saw a load of flying fish that were jumping up into our boat. It was crazy.”

With 16 teams already safely back to shore, Lee and Sean are currently in 21st place - but winning was never in Lee’s mind.

He added: “We set out to just finish the race and with just a few hundred miles to go we will have done that.

“Some of the others who are taking part are seasoned pros and have done this before, but I had never even rowed a boat before last year, so I cannot be prouder of what Sean and I have achieved.”

You can track Lee and Sean's progress at, or for more about the pair visit or follow @square1atlantic on Twitter.