Belfast Telegraph

Dad sailed into folklore... my North Channel charity voyage was tribute to him

John Lynn, gets a peck from mum Aileen after his sailing from Islay to Portrush in memory of his late dad Robert
John Lynn, gets a peck from mum Aileen after his sailing from Islay to Portrush in memory of his late dad Robert

By Victoria O'Hara

A sailor has successfully completed a gruelling nautical charity challenge across the North Channel in memory of his father who windsurfed the opposite route 30 years ago.

John Lynn, from Coleraine, crossed the dangerous 32-mile stretch from Islay in Scotland to Portrush single-handedly in a Laser dinghy in just over four hours.

The 35-year-old said he decided to take on the 'Port to Port' challenge to raise funds for Portrush lifeboat station and in memory of his dad Robert.

"My father died last year very suddenly after he had a heart attack," said the father-of-one.

"It was a big shock, he was a fit man and had a good lifestyle. It was totally out of the blue."

His father had a long association with Portrush lifeboat station.

"The Portrush Lifeboat Station was something that was very close to dad's heart. I woke up on New Year's Day and put it in motion," he said.

"Dad windsurfed from Portrush to Islay in 1983 with a group of friends, more or less for the craic. And it has always been talked about round the town, it was a pretty incredible thing to have done.

"I was only a wee boy at the time."

But John explained such is the legend of his father's achievement he even gave his own daughter Alice the middle name Islay, after the Scottish island.

"It was always in my head to try and do it and I sail the Laser dinghies," he added.

Starting at 9.47am on Wednesday, John arrived in Portrush just four hours and 19 minutes later.

A seven-man support group followed him across the dangerous stretch of water in the Causeway Lass.

"When we left I had in my head it would take six hours," he said.

"The worst point was in the middle, I knew I was making good time but I started to get really tired after the really strong wind and I knew I needed to stop, but I knew I couldn't get off the boat and it is very difficult to stop the sail flapping about.

"I slowed down, the safety boat threw me a Mars Bar and I was getting so tired. It was really hazy, you couldn't see Islay, all you could see was sea.

"But once I spotted the coast I got a boost as I knew I was nearly home. The support boat was fantastic."

He said the challenge was "well worth it".

"There were people who did think I was crazy when I first said I would do it," he said.

"I've raised over £3,000 and I am delighted. I've had great support from local businesses and people.

"It really was worth it – I'm still buzzing."

"It was great to see friends and family on the North Pier, having achieved a lifetime's ambition and making my dad proud."

Belfast Telegraph


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