Intrepid rowers complete Atlantic odyssey

An Irish rower and his Canadian girlfriend today completed one of the world’s toughest maritime challenges.

Novice rowers Paul Gleeson from Limerick and partner Tori Holmes struggled through 2,550 nautical miles to get to the finish of the Atlantic Rowing Race.

After arriving in Antigua, in the Caribbean, just after 11am Irish time Paul said: “It is hard to put into words how happy the two of us are.

“Coming in this morning just after first light was so surreal. Both our families were there. We were looking forward to this for the best part of two months, it was so unbelievable when it happened. We are just smiling from ear to ear.”

Paul, 29, and Tori, 21, set off on the Christina from the Canary Islands on November 30. It took them 84 days, 23 hours and nine minutes to complete the gruelling race, said to be the ultimate test of mental and physical strength and endurance.

The couple, who met in Australia, had no rowing experience before deciding to take part in the mammoth expedition in aid of Concern.

They hope their trek will raise €25,000 for the charity.

Taking it in turns to row, they managed to battle through the event that many of the most experienced rowers had to abandon.

The race hit the headlines last month when fellow Irish rowers Ciarán Lewis and Gearóid Towey had to be rescued by a supertanker when they hit a force-seven storm near Bermuda.

Paul, who worked in the personal finance industry in Dublin, said they too came close capsizing and came face to face with tropical storms, a cyclone, sharks and a 30-foot sperm whale.

“We are really proud of ourselves that we managed to get across the finish line,” Paul continued, speaking on RTÉ radio news.

“Quitting was never an option. The toughest thing was getting half way, then we knew we were going to make it.”

The couple were the second last team to cross the finish line, but with many of the 26 entrants capsizing and having to pull out during the race it is believed they could be eventually placed in the top half of the table.

For details on the race and their fundraising campaign visit www.row4concern.com.


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