Four rowers have been rescued in the Atlantic Ocean after their rowing boat capsized and they lost vital equipment.

Gemma Chalk, Clare Lanyon, Jane McIntosh and Olivia Wilson had set off in rowing boat Fire Ant on their charity challenge on 26 January 2016 from Puerto De Mogan marina, Gran Canaria, en route to Barbados.

UK Coastguard received a distress signal at 09.08 on Saturday morning from the British rowers, who were located 400 nautical miles off Cape Verde.

The Coastguard used a satellite phone to contact the crew and was told that the boat had capsized several times. They had lost equipment including the GPS and oars leaving them with no way of navigating or manoeuvring the rowing boat.

They were requested to activate their Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB) to assist the Coastguard in tracking them.

A Mayday relay broadcast was issued by the UK Coastguard via satellite requesting vessels in the area to assist. Several vessels responded, the two closest were asked to head towards the stricken rowing boat.

Just after 01:25 yesterday morning, the four crew were rescued by a bulk carrier, the second vessel, a large oil carrier, stood by to give assistance if needed. The four crew are now on board the bulk carrier and making their way to Canada.

Ian Guy, UK Coastguard duty controller said: ‘The rowers were an extremely long way from land with no other vessels in the immediate vicinity. We received several responses to our mayday request, the nearest vessel being 90 nautical miles away, they quickly diverted and set course to the stricken rowers, taking eleven hours to reach them.

‘This shows you how important it is to be prepared for your voyage and have several means of contacting the Coastguard or raising an alarm, even if you are not in UK waters.

‘Thankfully the rowers are now on board the bulk carrier and all are reported to be well.’

In a statement Oceanus Rowing said: ‘Unfortunately due to broken oars and damage to navigation and safety equipment, the girls have made the difficult decision to abandon their record attempt for this year.

‘On the evening of Saturday 13th February they transferred to a passing ship. They will be dropped off at the ships next port of call in Canada.  The girls would like to thank all of their supporters. They are also very grateful to Falmouth Coastguard for co-ordinating their safe transfer to the ship.’