British rowers set Atlantic crossing record

‘Four Oarsmen’ take 29 days and 15 hours to complete 3,000-mile race from Canary Islands to Antigua

L to R: George Biggar, Dicky Taylor, Stuart Watts and Peter Robinson celebrate their win in Antigua.




L to R: George Biggar, Dicky Taylor, Stuart Watts and Peter Robinson celebrate their win in Antigua.
Photograph: Ben Duffy/PA

British rowers set Atlantic crossing record

‘Four Oarsmen’ take 29 days and 15 hours to complete 3,000-mile race from Canary Islands to Antigua

Four British rowers have set a new record for crossing the Atlantic Ocean after reaching land in the Caribbean early on Saturday.

George Biggar, Dicky Taylor, Peter Robinson and Stuart Watts spent 29 days and 15 hours crossing the 3,000 miles from La Gomera in the Canary Islands to Antigua. The previous race record of 35 days was set last year by the Anglo-American quartet Latitude 35.

The “Four Oarsmen” completed the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge to raise awareness of mental health – and about £250,000 for the charity Mind – after Biggar’s mother, Anne Fisher, killed herself in 2011.

After arriving in the harbour, Biggar said: “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.”

Biggar, 32, a London lawyer; Robinson, 32, a farmer from Alnwick, Northumberland; Watts, 34, an account director from Gloucester; and Taylor, 32, an IT consultant from Corbridge, Northumberland, led the 25-team fleet from early on in the race.

The rowers, who had been expected to take 40 days to cross the Atlantic, battled sea sickness, 12-metre (40ft) waves, hallucinations and chronic fatigue in their eight-metre fibreglass vessel.

Race organisers said they believed it was the fastest Atlantic row of all time, as well as in the history of the race.

The funds raised will be split between Mind and another charity, Spinal Research, in support of Robinson’s friend Ben Kende, who sustained a spinal cord injury while representing Hong Kong at the Asian junior championship in 2010.

Biggar’s mother had struggled with mental illness most of her life and drowned in the Lake District in January 2011. After a career as a solicitor, Fisher had retrained as a mental health and addiction counsellor and became a trustee for her local branch of Mind.

  • In the UK, Samaritans can be contacted on 116 123. In the US, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255. In Australia, the crisis support service Lifeline is 13 11 14. Other international suicide helplines can be found at www.befrienders.org.

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