Former Atlantic conquerors welcome Intrepid’s rowers into exclusive club

Intrepid 232 back on dry land Credit: World’s Toughest Row (37486142)

ISLANDERS who have previously crossed the Atlantic have paid tribute to the achievement of the Intrepid 232 crew.

The team – consisting of Julie Brady, Helene Monpetit, Rosemary Satchwell and Alison Smithurst – completed the 3,000-mile Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge at about 9pm on Friday to cheers and applause from family and friends.

As an experienced meteorologist and Atlantic veteran, John Searson told the JEP how impressed he had been.

“It’s absolutely phenomenal; they had such atrocious conditions over the last week,” he said.

“They had a ‘groundhog day’ on 2 February when they just went nowhere and having got so close they had a terrible choice between staying out there on sea-anchor or asking the organisers to come and get them.

“They chose to stay out there for days and I take my hat off to them – these aren’t youngsters, they are at an age when most people would think you can’t do things like this, so it’s a real testament to have finished the race in those conditions.”

Mr Searson, who was 35 when he crossed the Atlantic as a solo rower in 1997 after his partner Carl Clinton was injured and forced to abandon the race a week after starting it, said it had been particularly difficult for Intrepid to encounter bad weather so close to the finish.

“I had difficult weather – although not as bad as this year – on my last day and I broke down emotionally because I’d been making such good progress and was gearing up for the finish,” he said.

“It must have been horrendous [for Intrepid], but at first light on Friday, the winds fell away and they just went for it, dead straight all the way to the finish – it was fantastic to see.”

Peter Wright, who crossed the Atlantic as part of the two-man DragonFish team with partner Steve Hayes a year ago, was equally impressed.

“The race is never the same. The Intrepid ladies had a lively, at times furious, start but they were moving pretty fast until the latter stages,” he said.

“It must have been so frustrating to reach 30 miles out, almost able to smell land, and be unable to do anything.

“It’s times like that when you find out what people are made of as individuals, but more importantly as a team – you have to get through it together, and they found a way.”

Mr Wright, who was five years older than his team-mate and finished the race just weeks before turning 50, said the drama of Intrepid’s final ten days had helped capture the imagination of followers.

“It was really nail-biting, and the fact that they were going for a world record and smashed it to bits was another factor,” he added.

“It’s such a big project just to get to the start, and the fact that they all had commitments as mums, to their jobs and were aged 50-plus made it really inspiring to show what people can do.”

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