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Emotional moment the heir to Blenheim Palace – and a £100m fortune – is reunited with his wife in Antigua after 35 days at sea in the ‘world’s toughest rowing race’

by: - January 19, 2019
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This is the emotional moment the future Duke of Marlborough was reunited with his wife after 35 days at sea.

George Spencer-Churchill, Marquess of Blandford and heir to Blenheim Palace and a £100m fortune, was met in Antigua by childhood sweetheart Camilla after completing a gruelling Atlantic rowing challenge for a children’s charity.

George and his teammates – Justin Evelegh and Camilla’s cousins Caspar and Toby Thorp – were greeted by their loved ones at the finish line on Wednesday night after completing the race in 35 days 8 hours and 5 minutes.

Team ‘Oar Inspiring’ were the first British team to finish the world’s toughest rowing race and came in at second place overall.

The four friends rowed 3,000 miles across the Atlantic Ocean against 27 other teams from 14 different countries in the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge, finishing at Nelson’s Dockyard, Antigua.

The race began on the 12th December at San Sebastian, La Gomera and the team have been rowing unsupported day and night across the world’s second largest ocean in nothing but a 7m rowing boat.

During their journey they have faced 50ft waves alongside extreme isolation, hallucinations, sea sickness and physical and mental exhaustion.

The purpose of Oar Inspiring’s journey was to raise enough money to fund a year’s worth of wishes for seriously ill children on behalf of Starlight Children’s Foundation.

George said: ‘The first week was an absolute baptism of fire. We were looking for something that would take us out of our comfort zones and there is no doubt that the Atlantic Ocean has put us to the ultimate test both mentally and physically.

‘We are all exhausted but excited to be finishing and extremely proud of our position in the race and the fundraising achievement so far for Starlight.’

Before starting the challenge, George spoke exclusively to MailOnline about swapping his life of luxury for a tiny cabin in cramped conditions with just a bucket for a toilet.

He told how the ‘complete amateurs’ planned to cross the seas in a 7x2m boat, facing seasickness, exhaustion and waves of up to 50ft, to fund a year’s worth of wishes for seriously ill children on behalf of Starlight Children’s Foundation.

George admitted that being away from his new wife – who he wed in September 2018 – would be a ‘challenge’ – but he planned to take solace in home comforts like porcini risotto.

‘We are both really looking forward to not having anything big to plan for a while and enjoying some quality time together afterwards, without worrying about wedding planning or rowing oceans!’

Speaking about the training, which began over a year ago, George told MailOnline: ‘I can honestly say it has been really intense – it’s been like having a second full-time job, on top of our regular jobs!

‘It has also involved an incredible amount of admin, which we call ‘rowmin.”

‘As well as our own individual training, we have had personal training sessions with Record Holder Gus Barton twice a week. We have also completed a number of specific training courses and sea-survival courses.

‘Recently, preparation has involved mass carb loading, which we particularly enjoyed! We are expected to burn 9,000 calories each day so need to try to build-up as much as possible before.’

During their training, the team were encouraged to eat ‘the most calorific foods possible’ to get through the two-hours-on, two-hours-off routine – including nuts, pork scratching and lashings of olive oil.

Despite the team being ‘complete amateur rowers’, they clocked up some 100 hours on the Solent over the past year in their training.

The challenge was expected to take up to 45 days, but race rules dictate they must take to the seas with 60 days’ worth of food which George described as ‘dehydrated and not the most glamorous’.

Highlights include beef stew and porcini risotto, but George insisted the menu ‘sounds better than it tastes’.

‘All the foods we are taking are high in calories and need to be mixed with water,’ he explained.

‘We need to desalinate the water by pumping it by hand, then heat it up and mix it with the food.

‘Given all of this will be taking place mid-ocean on very little sleep, I think it’s safe to assume that eating will end up being quite a challenge.’

We will be dealing with temperatures above 30 degrees in the cabins and may have to be locked into them for safety reasons if a storm hits or the weather takes a turn for the worse.’

George, who is the son of James Spencer-Churchill, 12th Duke of Marlborough and his first wife Rebecca Mary Few Brown, adds: ‘Starlight is a fantastic charity that grants seriously ill children with wishes and also provides extensive hospital entertainment and escape programmes.

‘We would love to raise a sum of money that can really make a difference and our target is to raise enough money to fund a years’ worth of wishes for Starlight Children, so we set the bar high.’