Shropshire Star

Atlantic Ladies triumph: Women conquer mighty ocean - with video and pictures

A trio of women - including two from Shropshire - today rowed into the record books as they completed the adventure of a lifetime by crossing the Atlantic Ocean.

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The Atlantic Ladies set off flares to celebrate

After capsizing TWICE in the last 24 hours - injuring two of the women - Dianne Carrington, Sharon Magrath and Elaine Theaker reached landfall this morning – 3,000 miles after setting off and bag onb schedule at 60 days.

Dianne Carrington, Sharon Magrath and Elaine Theaker celebrate

They have faced weeks of mountainous waves and high winds since they left the Canary Islands in mid-December.

VIDEO: Fast-forward to 3:35 to see the Atlantic Ladies come in:

And they today received a heroes’ reception as they arrived on the Caribbean island of Antigua.

They are the first female trio to row across any ocean and the oldest all-female crew to row across an ocean. NHS worker Dianne, 62, from Pontesbury, is also the oldest woman to row the Atlantic.

VIDEO: The celebrations start:

Dianne, along with 55-year-old Shrewsbury midwife Sharon and lawyer Elaine, 54, from Abergavenny, have faced an onslaught from flying fish and watched as dolphins and whales swam close to their precarious boat.

Tired and dishevelled, the trio were greeted on dry land by family and friends and said that while the journey had been magical with had also be filled with 'moments of fear and terror'.

Nearing landfall – Atlantic Ladies Dianne Carrington, Sharon Magrath and Elaine Theaker

Speaking of her pride at sharing the boat with her crew mates, Di, said: "I am quite proud to be the oldest. It does not matter what age you are. You are never too old. If I can do it anybody can.

"It was not easy but anybody can do whatever they want. My body is falling apart but with a team like this and the support from home, it has been great. I hope I have inspired people to do things."

Record breakers Di, Elaine and Sharon

Their Atlantic Ladies team was reduced to three after another crew member pulled out, putting them at a disadvantage against other teams in the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge.

Angie Norman, who has helped support the rowers, said: “It has been a remarkable journey for them and a real, real baptism of fire. They have spent 61 days and 60 nights on board.”

The trio set off from San Sebastian de La Gomera on December 14 on their boat Poppy, which is just seven metres long by two metres wide. They have rowed more than three million strokes in shifts of two hours on, two hours off, raising more than £12,000 to split between three charities.

Dianne Carrington, Sharon Magrath and Elaine Theaker celebrate

With months of training, they had set themselves the target of completing the row in 60 days and they did just that.

They will now be taking a much needed rest on the Caribbean isle with their loved ones before returning home.

Voyage is a triumph of courage and spirit

From the sun-drenched Canaries to battling with waves the size of tower blocks, three plucky women have faced their fears and triumphed.

Not many people in the world can say they have rowed the Atlantic – but Dianne Carrington, Sharon Magrath and Elaine Theaker have done just that.

Just over 60 days ago they set out in their tiny boat, just one of 28 crews to leave La Gomera in the Canary Islands.

The trio getting shipshape

Many crews have dropped out, beaten by the elements. But for Di, a retired 62-year-old NHS worker from Pontesbury, Elaine, 54, a lawyer from Abergavenny, and Shrewsbury midwife Sharon, 55, the challenge was one to complete.

And with the nautical miles flying by, they were due to make land today.

They have a remarkable story to tell. Sharon was almost swept overboard, saved only by her harness and the quick thinking actions of her fellow crew mates. They have slept in shifts, never for longer than two hours each, and have kept in touch with their loved ones back home via a satellite phone.

The women before setting off

Solar panels have given them power and water purifiers mean they have had access to a clean drink from the sea. A small supply of gin and tonic along with a couple of bottles of Prosecco kept spirits high, although some was damaged by encroaching sea water and had to be ditched.

Blisters on both hands and bottoms have caused a few problems but these have been offset by the knowledge they are that bit closer to land. A mid-Atlantic dip, celebrating Christmas and two birthdays at sea and rowing alongside whales are just some of the highlights of their 3,000-mile trip.

They will have rowed well over three million strokes to complete their challenge and were today being welcomed by friends and family who have made the 4,000-mile trip to greet them.

Atlantic Ladies - The Musical

The trio as they prepared to embark on their voyage

The row is to raise funds for three charities: Alzheimers Society, Motor Neurone Disease Association and Relapsing Polychrondritis UK.

And on their return to the UK their next big adventure will get under way.

Shrewsbury-based playwright Chris Eldon Lee, part of local comedy group Three Men and a Bow Tie, has begun work on Atlantic Ladies – The Musical Play. A year ago and in the midst of her training Di approached the producer about the possibility of a stage play about their voyage.

The celebrations start

The three rowers met the cast of the play in November, just days before they set off, and gave several interviews about their hopes and fears.

Since then, the players have been following the ladies’ progress. Over the next few months the plan is that cast, crew and writer will work together on a stage play that tells the whole untold story of the big adventure.

Atlantic Ladies – The Musical Play is due on stage from September 26-29 at The Wightman Theatre in The Square.