'Mutineer' crew's tales of drink and sex

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The Independent Online
CREW MEMBERS who jumped ship during a calamitous attempt to row the Atlantic are considering suing the skipper, whom they say branded them cowards and mutineers.

At a press conference in Glasgow yesterday, nine of the crew of the Atlantic Endeavour criticised the aggressive manner and poor seamanship of Roy Finlay, 36, and accused him of endangering their lives.

The 14 men and two women, who paid pounds 5,000 each to take part in the challenge, have demanded their money back.

"We want an apology of some form and financial compensation would be appreciated," said crew member Patrick Kendell.

"Roy Finlay said we didn't have the stomach for it and weren't physically fit enough. That is a total lie. The only person who we feel wasn't physically and mentally up to the trip was the captain."

The crew claims that during the voyage, life jackets remained unpacked during their 700 miles at sea, no man- overboard drill was practised and the captain ordered navigation lights to be turned off.

"We were in essence trusting our lives to Roy Finlay," said James Nye, 30, a policeman from Exeter. "We appreciate it was a risky trip but we didn't expect the captain to fall short."

The final straw came after the 10-ton boat docked at Sao Vincente, in the Cape Verde Islands, with generator trouble. According to the crew, Mr Finlay used their money to get drunk and pay for a prostitute.

"Our concern regarding the woman wasn't that he was with her," said Mr Nye, "but that we were meant to be doing a quick turn around and going back to sea. Roy Finlay was in bed with this female and no work was being done to repair the boat."

The rowers had trained for 12 months with the aim of beating the record of 35 days and eight hours for an Atlantic crossing set by a French team in 1992.

After taking 16 days from the Canaries and with another 2,000 miles to go to Barbados, a record was out of the question when they struggled into Cape Verde on 16 November. Too late, they realised the Endeavour was heavy and not really built for rowing. Mr Finlay suggested putting up a sail but was reminded it was a rowing attempt.

The picture that emerged yesterday was of early misgivings about Mr Finlay being overwhelmed by the desire for an ego-boosting adventure. The crew is already talking of trying again next year, but with a different skipper.

Neither the crew nor Mr Finlay's father, Bob, contact man for the expedition, know of the skipper's whereabouts.

Captain Roy Finlay, disputes all the allegations contained in this article. He subsequently successfully rowed the Atlantic Ocean as skipper with his selected crew on board Orca, the boat he designed and built and as a result won a Guinness world record.