Ilja set the record for crossing the Atlantic Ocean in almost 33 days

In 32 days, 23 hours and 53 minutes, Ilja Kok from Breda and his three teammates managed to cross the Atlantic Ocean in a boat. On December 12, they set off on a 3,000-mile journey from Africa to Central America. “We broke the record for mixed teams by more than eight days,” boasts Ilja.

Blisters on her hands and muscle pain felt all over her body. But for Ilja and his team, a sense of pride prevails. “It was hard, really hard. We also had a period where one of our team members got sick. So he couldn’t do anything for four days, and only half his strength for a whole week.” The weather during the trip was not always good. “There were two periods when the wind was blowing at sixty to seventy kilometers per hour.”

“I was able to use the Internet every day using a router.”

For almost 33 days the four of us live in about twelve square meters. And that was friction at times. “Sometimes you feel like you have to throw someone out. But, we told each other, check yourself first to see if you’re not tired, and that’s what pissed you off.”

A total of 43 teams participated in the tournament Talisker Whiskey Atlantic Challenge. On the way to the sea, the teams did not see each other. “When we’re sailing we don’t know where everyone is. We’ve been able to access the internet every day using a router. You can see everyone’s location on an app.”

The only person they had contact with in the outside world was the Weatherman. “He gave us the weather forecast for the day and which route to travel.”

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“I don’t think I’ll ever do it again, but never say never.”

Ilja has been preparing for the trip for over 2.5 years. “The boat had to be repaired and we had to follow a lot of training. They sometimes say: ‘When you show up at the start, eighty percent is already there’. That was true now.”

Now that it’s over, the group will stay in the Caribbean for a few more days before heading home on Thursday. “No, not on the boat,” Ilja says with a smile. “I don’t think I’m going to do this again, but never say never.”

The team eventually finished fourth. “But we were also the only team with both men and women, while all the other teams had only men,” Ilja explains. “At one point we were second and thought we’d win, but then our team-mate got sick so we backed out.”

Ilja’s team undertook the trip to raise 30,000 euros Clean the ocean, a system that removes waste from oceans worldwide. “We don’t know how much we’ve raised yet, but we’re over the target amount.”

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