Egypt’s Nour, Samra confirmed safe after losing contact during Atlantic race

Rachel McArthur
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We’re glad they’re safe. Omar Nour and Omar Samra have been rescued following an undisclosed emergency during the 2017 Atlantic Challenge race. The Egyptian duo, who have been taking part in what’s known as the “world’s toughest rowing race” across the Atlantic Ocean – had lost contact with organisers over the past 24 hours.

Following what must have been a terrifying and anxious time for the team, friends and family, the adventurers have been confirmed safe after successfully activating an emergency beacon.


As we await updates, this challenge has no doubt been one of the most gruelling for Nour and Samra – both 38 – who have been training since the beginning of the year with the aim of becoming the first Arab team to row across the ocean.

Nour – a professional triathlete – and Samra – an adventurer best known for being the first Egyptian to climb Mount Everest and the Seven Summits, joined forces to become ‘Team O2’ for the 2017 edition of the Atlantic Challenge. The race is an unsupported, 3,000 nautical mile journey from San Sebastian, La Gomera in the Spanish Canary Islands to Nelson’s Dockyard English Harbour in Antigua.

Kicking off last week, the race began with 28 teams – consisting of one-to-four rowers – from 17 countries. To give you an idea of just how intense the race is, the current world record for a two-person team is 40 days, four hours and three minutes.

Both based in the UAE, the adventurers, who met and became friends in 2013, were upbeat at the start of the race, with Nour telling media: “The preparation we’ve gone through to get to this point has been intense – no outside assistance is permitted during the crossing, as soon as we row out of this harbour we are at the mercy of the elements – so it’s been imperative that we get every single detail locked down.”

Samra added: “Although I have a good amount of experience as a mountain and polar adventurer, one thing is for sure – the ocean is very different to mountains and ice.

“There will no doubt be challenges along this incredible journey – when you’re faced with 50-foot waves, blisters, salt rash and sleep deprivation, that’s a given. But we’re as ready as we can be, and excited to get out there and show the world what you can do if you set your mind to it.”

Preparation for the competition comprised high-intensity physical conditioning, adding a combined 27 kilograms of body weight which they were expect to lose over the course of the crossing, and over 200 hours of rowing training on their boat. Additionally, the twosome completed a number of courses, as well as medical training, including how to self-administer intravenous drips. Nour, a type 1 diabetic, was fitted with a glucose monitor that could set off an alarm to alert his teammate should his blood sugar drop below a critical level.

Tough week

It certainly has been a challenging week for the Egyptians. Twenty-four hours into the race and Samra shared just what it had been like, revealing: “I got bad sea sickness and puked eight times. Lost a lot of energy and Omar [Nour] rowed more to compensate.

“We hit unfavourable weather with no wind or wind against us. Most four-man teams escaped this and got ahead of the weather. Looks like the weather may persist for another 24 hours so it will be tough. I’m feeling a little bit better but still struggling to get much food down. We’re really looking forward to winds not being against us.”

During Day Four of the race, 17 December, Nour revealed that it was beginning to look up for the team.

“We’re starting to settle into a rhythm now. You wouldn’t believe how much my emotions go up and down – one minute I’m elated to be out here, the next minute I can barely take another stroke,” he said. “Sea sickness has been brutal on Omar [Samra], and also took it out of me physically in terms of the amount of time I had to spend on the oars.

“On a positive note, I always thought losing sight of shore would be a tough moment for me mentally; but we were elated when we finally lost sight of land and could only see the ocean in all directions. The winds are in our favour now, so this adventure is officially ON!”

By the next day, things were looking up for Team O2 as had moved ahead a place overnight.

But it was short-lived, as a week into the race and there were signs of trouble.

Nour’s team took to social media to post: “It’s been a tough, frustrating 24 hours for Team O2. Their power is completely down which means they’re hand-pumping drinking water and hand-steering the boat – this means time spent actually rowing is minimal and they’re watching other teams pull away from them. For someone as competitive as Omar Nour, that’s tough!

“Neither Omars have managed a solid meal since they’ve been on the boat, and the issues with the water metre means they’re also dehydrated.”

Atlantic Campaigns has confirmed it will post a statement in the next 24 hours to explain what exactly happened.

“But for now, we are happy Team O2 are safe and well,” organisers said.

In the meantime, fans from all over the world have taken to social media to wish Nour and Samra well.

Phillip Theodore posted: “I can’t even imagine how they got onto a bulk carrier in those sea conditions. Thankful that the guys are safe.”

Michael Fitzgibbons posted: “So glad to hear that they are safe. These guys had the biggest smiles and radiated the most enthusiasm at the start.”

The sentiment was shared by many others, including Jason Gray, who said: “So glad the Omars are safe. Anyone who attempts this amazing challenge commands huge amounts of respect!”

We couldn’t agree more.

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