DARING York army captain Paul Tetlow is nearing the end of a gruelling rowing race across the Atlantic.

He and three fellow rowers on Yorkshire Warrior were only 200 miles from England yesterday, having been beaten to the finishing point by an American crew, James Robert Hanssen, but still well ahead of another British crew, Team Hesco.

The Shepherd Ocean Fours race, the world's first Atlantic rowing race, has been billed as the ultimate test of strength and endurance.

Yorkshire Warrior was one of four crews to leave New York on June 9 at the start a 3,100-mile trip.

One crew had barely made it out of the harbour before the seals on their deck hatches began to fail and let in water, and they had to return to port. Within days of departing, the Yorkshire Warrior crew had to survive mountainous seas caused by a tropical depression, and also managed to recover after getting its sea anchor line caught around a fishing buoy.

Paul, 26, a former St Peter's School pupil, from Clifton Moor, speaking to The Press on a satellite phone, said then: "It was horrendous. The winds were 30 to 40 knots, and the seas were 20 to 30 feet high."

He said the 29ft boat suffered only superficial damage and was able to continue on its way, and he hoped to reach Cornwall by the beginning of August.

But all three crews have battled in recent weeks against strong northerly winds, which have slowed down their progress.

A race spokesman said the crews had overcome many extreme obstacles, including numerous near misses with container ships, salt sores and sleep deprivation. The spokesman said: "They have learned a lot about themselves and grown both physically and mentally as a team. The inaugural Shepherd Ocean Rowing Race 2006 truly is a totally unique event and has provided these pioneers with an experience they will never forget."

Captain Tetlow, and his fellow crew members, Carl Powell, Mick Cataldo and Andrew Unwin are all members of the newly-formed Yorkshire Regiment, which has been created through the amalgamation of the county's former infantry regiments.

They are raising money for the Army Benevolent Fund.

The Yorkshire Warrior is sponsored by York solicitors Harrowell Shaftoe, because of its connections with Paul's father, retired York solicitor Peter Tetlow, whose firm, Asworth Tetlow, merged with Harrowell Shaftoe last year.