Record-breaking rowers feted far and wide

Clelebrations begin on-board for the four-strong crew of George McAlpin, Gareth Barton, Luke Baker and Ally Cooper. Photo by: Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge/ Atlantic Campaigns/ Photographer Ben Duffy
Clelebrations begin on-board for the four-strong crew of George McAlpin, Gareth Barton, Luke Baker and Ally Cooper. Photo by: Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge/ Atlantic Campaigns/ Photographer Ben Duffy

Congratulations have been pouring in after an amateur team from the north coast became one of the top five in the world to row across the Atlantic.

The sensational effort by the crew of Home to Portrush - a restaurateur, a civil servant, a restaurant manager and a fitness instructor - caused a social media sensation on Sunday.

The Home to Portrush crew after completing the 3,000-mile route. Photo by: Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge/ Atlantic Campaigns/ Photographer Ben Duff

The Home to Portrush crew after completing the 3,000-mile route. Photo by: Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge/ Atlantic Campaigns/ Photographer Ben Duff

George McAlpin, Gareth Barton, Luke Baker and Ally Cooper were being feted far and wide after completing the 3,000- mile challenge from San Sebastian in La Gomera, Canary Islands to Nelson’s Dockyard English Harbour in Antigua and Barbuda.

The champagne was popped - after 31 days, 8 hours and 57 minutes - as the quartet finished fifth in the 2017 Talisker Whisky Atlantic challenge, the “premier event in ocean rowing” which attracts professional athletes.

Reflecting the views of many in the community, one of hundreds of well-wishers posted on Facebook: “Congratulations to you all amazing achievement for you all personally but putting Portrush well and truly on the map is fantastic, enjoy some comfort now in gorgeous Antigua.”

Echoing these sentiments, fellow supporters of the crew, which had been rowing 24 hours a day, seven days a week since December 14 to become the fastest Northern Ireland team to cross the Atlantic, stated: “An absolutely amazing achievement congratulations guys you are an amazing inspiration enjoy your achievement.”

And: “Fantastic effort guys, N.I. Record breakers, unbelievable achievement, respect.”

Another suggested: “Freedom of the borough would be fitting recognition!”

All 27 participating boats were using the project to raise money for their chosen charities. The ‘local heroes’ undertook to raise £15,000 for Willie’s Orphan Fund, the RNLI, the NI Children to Lapland Trust and Rowing for Ross.

Portrush Lifeboat Station offered its congratulations: “Amazing boys!”

Check the Home To Portrush Facebook page for further reports and details of how to donate www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/HometoPortrush

See also: https://www.colerainetimes.co.uk/news/herculean-charity-rowing-challenge-for-home-to-portrush-1-8325635