Belfast Telegraph

Northern Irish quartet complete 'epic row' across Atlantic

Four friends have become the fastest Northern Irishmen in history to row across the Atlantic, despite being plagued by 40ft waves, bizarre hallucinations and dental trouble at sea.

The quartet, George McAlpin, 57, Alistair Cooper, 41, Luke Baker, 37, and Gareth Barton, 31, completed the 3,000-mile Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge in just 31 days.

The overall winners, British team the Four Oarsmen, came in two days ahead of them.

The Northern Irish team landed in the Caribbean island of Antigua to a heroes' welcome, having spent just over four weeks battling fatigue and the worst weather mother nature could hurl at their 26ft fibreglass vessel.

The team, named Home To Portrush in honour of the coastal town where they are based, sported deep, all-over tans as they took their first steps on land since leaving La Gomera harbour in the Canary Islands on December 14.

Mr McAlpin said: "It was nothing like we expected, we knew there would be big waves and strong winds but nothing like we could have imagined.

"There were some scary moments out in the Atlantic, but being able to speak to our families back home, especially, for me, my daughter, really motivated us to keep going.

"We had some odd hallucinations as a result of sleep deprivation, where Gareth had an entire conversation with a life jacket, and I struggled with some dental issues, but we pulled together as a team to overcome all struggles and everything the Atlantic could throw at us."

The team took on the challenge, dubbed the world's toughest rowing race, to raise money for the Portrush Lifeboat.

Lisa Everingham, global Talisker marketing manager, said: "We are delighted for Home To Portrush and their epic row across the Atlantic.

"To be able to support them in this life changing adventure and to be part of their journey has been a real privilege."

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