British amateurs smash 3,000 mile Atlantic rowing race record

The four man team crossed the Atlantic Ocean in 29 days 

Alexander Britton,Ryan Hooper
Saturday 13 January 2018 10:43
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George Biggar explains why the Four Oarsmen took on their Atlantic row

Four amateurs are believed to have set a new world record for rowing the Atlantic, becoming the first team to cross the ocean in under 30 days, raising more than £250,000 in the process.

George Biggar, Dicky Taylor, Peter Robinson and Stuart Watts spent 29 days and 15 hours at sea for the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge, dubbed the world's toughest row, during the 3,000-mile crossing from La Gomera in the Canary Islands to Antigua in the Caribbean.

Race organisers said that they believe that the quartet have completed the fastest Atlantic row of all time, as well as in race history.

They were met by emotional family and friends as they pulled their weary bodies onto dry land in English Harbour at just after 2am GMT on Saturday.

The friends were expecting to take 40 days to complete the row – but families of the crew had to rebook flights to greet them as they progressed ahead of schedule.

The group, dubbed the Four Oarsmen, set out to raise awareness of mental health – and funds for the Mind charity – after Mr Biggar's mother Anne Fisher died aged 54 in 2011. Biggar, 32, a property lawyer from London, said: "It's amazing to complete the row.

"We set out with it as a charity initiative for two charities. For me personally, the Mind element is commemorative for mum who struggled with mental illness through her life.

"I always felt a need and desire to do something to commemorate mum, and to bring that to fruition and to complete it – to do it such justice in such style with such great support is amazing."

Ms Fisher, after a prosperous career as a solicitor, retrained as a mental health and addiction counsellor and became trustee for her local Mind branch.

She endured a lifelong battle with mental illness before drowning in the sea near the family home in the Lake District a month after Christmas.

The four will split the money between Mind and another charity, Spinal Research, in support of Mr Robinson's friend Ben Kende, once a rising star of Hong Kong rugby, who suffered a spinal cord injury while representing the territory at the Asian Junior Championship in August 2010.

"It was absolutely astounding to see the amount of support for these charities we've helped raise from friends, family, loved-ones and people we've never even met.

"When we were really hitting the wall, that's what kept us going: the encouragement of our supporters, and the knowledge that we were making such a difference for two very important charities."

Mr Biggar, Mr Robinson, a 32-year-old farmer from Alnwick in Northumberland, Mr Watts, a 34-year-old account director from Gloucester, and Mr Taylor, a 32-year-old IT consultant from Corbridge in Northumberland, led the 25-team fleet from very early on in the race.

They battled sea sickness, 40ft waves, hallucinations and chronic fatigue, but had their spirits lifted through a chance encounter with a minke whale and a calf which swam underneath their 26ft fibreglass vessel in the middle of the ocean.

Some 25 teams comprised of competitors from 16 countries have taken part in the race, which was completed in a previous record time of 35 days by Anglo-American quartet Latitude 35 in 2016.

PA

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