Crystal Cruises’ Crystal Serenity rescued two rowers this morning who had capsized their small boat 480 miles west of the Canary Islands overnight.  23 year-old Tom Fancett from the U.K. and Tom Sauer from the Netherlands, who were competing with 16 other boats in the 2011 Atlantic Challenge Race to row across the Atlantic, spent 10 hours in a tiny life raft after a large wave sunk their boat.  The ultra-luxury cruise ship was 120 nautical miles north of the rowers, on her own Transatlantic cruise en route to St. Maarten, when it received the rescue assist call from the Falmouth Coast Guard.  Crystal Serenity picked up the men at 6:00 a.m. this morning.

Captain Økland sailed full speed to the stranded boaters, through worsening weather and very small crafts of other contest participants.  With lookouts posted throughout the night, Crystal Serenity located the boaters’ flare five hours later.  Captain Økland carefully maneuvered close to the raft, and the shipwrecked persons were rescued directly onto Crystal Serenity.

Upon checkup in the ship’s medical center, both survivors appear to be healthy.  Crystal Serenity expects to arrive on schedule in St. Maarten on Sunday.

“Both individuals are in good spirits and, of course, very happy to be alive,” says Crystal’s President Gregg Michel.  “We are so proud of the quick reaction and skilled seamanship of our crew that enabled them to save these brave men.  While these young men hoped to cross the Atlantic in a most basic fashion, they are certainly experiencing the crossing in the most luxurious environment – an ironic, and heartwarming, turn of events.”