Islanders Turn Out To Welcome Transatlantic Rowers

chris walters elliot dale rowersA new Transatlantic rowing record was set yesterday on St Mary’s.

And today, life gets back to normal for the two Lyme Regis men who crossed unaided from New York to St Mary’s.

Amazingly after their 59 days at sea, Elliott Dale and Chris ‘Darby’ Walters have agreed to pick up their oars and row in the Lyme Regis Regatta at the weekend. Elliot says he hopes they aren’t consigned to the ‘C’ team.

Elliott says he needs to start concentring on his business and revealed he has the best excuse for a court experience next week. He’s up before the bench after failing to respond to a speeding fine, because he was in the middle of the Atlantic.

The men will spend a final few hours in Scilly today, letting their achievement sink in.

A flotilla of tripper boats, led by the Bonnet gig, escorted the pair into a harbour packed with well-wishers yesterday.

They reached the quay steps at around 11.30 am yesterday. The men had left New York at 10.28am UK time on the morning of June 7th.

From Radio Scilly

Radio Scilly covers the arrival of Chris and Elliott at St Mary’s Quay

Alana Marie Smith of the Children’s Hospice SW, for whom the rowers have already raised £115,000, announced their record.

‘Ginger’ Jim Lyddon helped arranged the welcome celebration because he felt the efforts of the pair, both aged in their 50s, needed to be marked.

He says their achievement to set a new benchmark record is “absolutely amazing.”

Despite setting an impressive target for future rowers to challenge, Elliott says he was disappointed not to row across the Atlantic faster than the men who first did it in 1896.

He says they were very close at one stage to beating Harbo and Samuelson’s record and that “bugs” him. But he’s also very proud of what they’ve achieved.

The men were delayed by weather over the last hours of the challenge. After over eight weeks at sea, Chris says he only realised they could complete the challenge at dawn on Wednesday morning.

They were holding on a sea anchor with a southerly wind and too far north. But after getting “battered for hours” the wind changed direction and the sun came out, to ensure they had a smooth passage into St Mary’s.

Chris says he loves our islands and he’s visited regularly but the warmth of yesterday’s welcome has touched him. He said they had no idea, while out at sea, that they had so much support here.

Rowing across a vast ocean in a minute boat, around the size of a gig means you’re exposed to the weather, wind and waves.

But Chris says the scariest moment was waking up to see that they were yards away from a massive cargo vessel.

They also had a few encounters with whales, which Chris said was very disconcerting, especially at night.

The pair are good friends and have completed long ocean rows before. Chris says that fact, and a sense of perspective, helped them remain on good terms when times were tough.

He doesn’t think he’ll embark on another ocean-going challenge as his girlfriend has banned him.

And he says it’s nice to set a record that doesn’t refer to their age, as over 50-year olds. The experience has provided some good stories to share with his two young grandchildren, says Chris.

You can see photos of Chris and Elliott’s arrival at St Mary’s here.