Two rowers have finally set off on their 3,000 mile challenge to cross the Atlantic Ocean after weeks of delays due to hurricane force winds and dangerous weather conditions.

Former Giggleswick School pupils Alex Macdonald, 23, and Luke Grose, 24, have raised more than £50,000 in sponsorship to buy and equip their handmade 23ft wooden rowing boat – JCT600 Yorkshire Challenger – and have trained for two years in preparation for the epic Woodvale Atlantic Rowing Race.

Originally scheduled to leave the island of La Gomera, near Tenerife, for the finish line at Antigua on December 6, the fleet of 30 boats finally started the race around lunchtime on Monday.

Now the pair face 50ft waves, busy shipping lanes and whales, as well as the mental and physical challenges of rowing naked for 12 hours each day for over a month.

Known as the world’s toughest rowing race, the Woodvale Atlantic has been completed by fewer people than have climbed Mount Everest and Alex and Luke are hoping to break the world record of 40 days for the crossing.

“The lads have prepared well and these delays to the race start have been hugely frustrating, but we are delighted that Alex and Luke are finally under way in their bid to win the race and record for Yorkshire,” said Team JCT600 sponsor John Tordoff.

The rowers are equipped with state of the art satellite phones and data devices and have hundreds of followers on their pages at social networking site Facebook. They are planning to send blogs via their Team JCT600 website directly from their boat.