Tyne & Wear

Atlantic rowers complete wooden boat crossing

Paul Hopkins and Phil Pugh Image copyright Ted Martin
Image caption Paul Hopkins and Phil Pugh said their welcome in Antigua was "absolutely fantastic"

Two rowers have completed a 3,000-mile ocean Atlantic crossing in a wooden boat.

Phil Pugh and Paul Hopkins, of Tyneside, took 70 days to make their way from the Canary Islands to Antigua in the Atlantic Dream Challenge.

Dozens of teams took part, but the pair were the only ones to tackle it in a wooden boat.

They were aiming to raise £30,000 for the Tiny Lives baby charity and the Fire Fighters Charity.

Mr Pugh's son, Tom, was born prematurely and spent several weeks in care at the Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle, which is supported by the Tiny Lives trust. Mr Hopkins is a firefighter.

'Rowing with gout'

Speaking to BBC Newcastle after completing their challenge, businessman Mr Pugh said: "We have typical rowers' bums - very spotty with bed sores - and there are other parts on the underside of our bodies, you don't really want to talk, about which are really, really sore.

"Bringing tears to your eyes is an understatement.

"The first shower was fantastic. There must've been an inch-worth of salt in the shower tray. All the bits are getting better."

Mr Hopkins said he had endured a painful festive period suffering from gout.

"The worst mile for me would've been the one on Christmas Day. My foot had swollen up and I knew I had 12 hours of rowing with gout.

"The first hour of that wasn't fun.

"Phil and I didn't have any family come out to Antigua. We weren't sure about what type of welcome we'd get.

"The people here and the yachting community have been absolutely outstanding.

"When we rowed into the harbour there were flares, horns were sounding and there were nearly 200 people on the quayside to welcome us.

"We're like little celebrities."

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