TODAY   |  April 08, 2013

Rowers who attempted record are rescued at sea

Just weeks away from completing a record-setting expedition across the Atlantic Ocean, two American and two Canadian rowers had to be rescued on their 73rd day at sea when their boat flipped over. NBC’s Matt Lauer reports.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> now a dramatic rescue at sea for four men trying to row thousands of miles across the atlantic ocean . we'll talk to them in a moment but first their journey. the four rowers were weeks away from completing a record-setting expedition across the atlantic ocean . two americans and two canadians left senegal january 23rd , their mission to row unassisted across the atlantic ocean a daring 4,000 mile journey to miami. the team was gathering data for studies ranging from marine life to their own sleep deprivation .

>> two-hour nap looking ahead to a four-hour row.

>> conditions were challenging along the way .

>> the waves are far too big and we're just bobbing up and down.

>> 2008 olympic gold medalist adam kreck was part of the crew.

>> we were seasick and very tired, now we seem to be sliding into a little bit more of a gruelling slog.

>> reporter: on saturday their 73rd day at sea and 850 miles from the finish line a giant wave caught them by surprise instantly flipping the boat over.

>> we had a plan in place for what to do if this happened and it was successful in that we're getting the guys home safe but it's too bad we have to end now.

>> those rowers are with us this morning from puerto rico , adam kreck, jordan hanssen, patrick fleming and marcus pukonen, good morning to all of you.

>> good morning.

>> there is not enough dramamie in the world to get me to do this. how are you feeling?

>> we're feeling great. we had a good night's sleep last night and good night's sleep on the vessel that rescued us along with the united states coast guard , first off huge thanks to them for a flawless rescue, both organizations. sector san juan , puerto rico and the c-130 out of clearwater florida.

>> the seas are rough, here comes this wave. did you have any warning at all?

>> well, yeah, it wasn't one wave. what happened is it was rough that morning. we were rowing into a counter current, we had 18 to 20 knots of wind behind us and rode in seas about twice the size before when the waves were two meters and we were in the middle of a shift change and we were rowing along two sets of waves came up behind us and i turned the stern of the boat towards the waves the safest position for the boat when we're rowing along like that and that first wave hit and overwhelmed the bow, overwhelmed the stern and drove the bow down into the water a little bit and to the side and immediately --

>> did everybody just go flying out of the boat at that point?

>> no, not yet. there was a wave right behind that so the stern dipped down again and because we were a little bit on the side, the stern lifted up on the second wave, drove it into that wave that was so close that just hit us and we rolled over and got inverted.

>> you had a life raft, excuse me, and also an emergency beacon you activated. how long were you guys in the water or in that raft?

>> well, the first thing that happened is adam and pat had to get out of the aft cabin. we were in the middle of the shift change. when that wave went through that's what compromised the boat. once we were in the water it was five minutes we had all four beacons activated and ten minutes the life raft.

>> you were lucky the coast guard got hold of that beacon or realized what was happening, there was a cargo vessel in the area and you guys were plucked out of the water. are you going to try this again?

>> absolutely. yes.

>> i'm not trying this again any time soon. i've got a wife who is 7 months pregnant at home and a 2 1/2-year-old son. the next adventure will be for me driving around in an rv visiting parks.

>> you're grounded, no question about it.

>> i'm really excited for that.

>> we're happy you're safe. be careful and good to have you back on dry land . thanks for joining us this morning.

>> thank you, matt.

>> thank you very much.

>> all right.