Hornchurch rower and uni friends storm through Atlantic crossing

PUBLISHED: 16:13 12 February 2016 | UPDATED: 16:19 12 February 2016

The team cross the finish line in Antigua. Picture: Ben Duffy

The team cross the finish line in Antigua. Picture: Ben Duffy


The first hurricane to hit the Atlantic in January since 1938 couldn’t stop four daredevils joining the elite group of people to row across it.

The team at the finish lineThe team at the finish line

Former Abbs Cross Academy student James Timbs-Harrison, 33, and three friends – James Kendall, Liam Browning and Stuart Markland – emerged through the darkness in Antigua early on Friday last week to waiting friends and family.

They had been at sea for 44 days, 20 hours and 22 minutes as part of the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge.

Their efforts raised £27,000 for the Cystic Fibrosis Trust and the RNLI.

And not only did they travel from La Gomera near Tenerife to the Caribbean island – they came first in the field of unaided rowers and sixth overall.

James, of Hornchurch, is now enjoying a well-earned break in Florida, but friend Danny Button, who travelled to Antigua from Gidea Park, and was waiting at the finish line, said: “The arrival was pretty amazing! All of the team’s family and friends, around 30 people, along with other rowers, were lined up in the harbour with flares and air horns to welcome the boys.

“We were only able to see the flashing lights of the coastguards’ boat until they got quite close and set off flares, but when they were nearer you could see the overgrown facial hair and happiness on their faces.

“I think it took a while for it to sink in and they gave the biggest bear hugs to their families. There were plenty of tears. It was one of the proudest moments of my life.”

Less than 500 people have successfully rowed across the Atlantic, that’s fewer than have climbed Mount Everest, or been to space.

The team trained for two years for the race, but nothing could have prepared them for the bad luck they would encounter.

A month into their trip, they were forced to stop rowing for 50 hours because of a storm.

That storm was later classed as a hurricane – the first in the Atlantic in January since 1938.

Donations can still be made at the team’s website

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