A WINCHESTER man and his friend have finally crossed the finish line after rowing the Atlantic for charity.

Will North and Dan Howie arrived at English Harbour in Antigua after spending over 50 days at sea rowing 3,000 nautical miles in a bid to raise £200,000 for charity.

So far the pair, who met at university, have raised over £80,000 for Leukaemia and Lymphoma Research, Cancer Research UK, and St Anna’s, a school and home for orphaned and abandoned children, as part of the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge which they completed on January 26 at around 10.30pm.

Will, 28, a London-based head-hunter, and Dan, 29, a chartered surveyor from Yorkshire, completed the trying challenge in 53 days 9 hours and 30 minutes.

Will said: “I’m a little tired and feeling quite surreal about seeing dry land and every single joint is aching but I feel amazing! We didn’t really have a target because every year the race is dependent on the conditions but we wanted to come in the top of the pairs and that’s what we’ve done.”

Having left La Gomera in the Canaries on December 4, Will and Dan endured some of the worst North Atlantic weather systems in over 100 years. They’ve capsized twice, rowed amongst 40ft waves and been hit in the face by flying fish. Life on board has been an endless challenge with injuries and sores, a blisteringly hot cabin, no autohelm and the need to hand pump fresh water every day. “It’s been sudocrem aplenty!” Will added. “It’s not nice but it was always going to be hard. Every time I stand up I’m leaning; I feel like I’m drunk! Somebody gave me a beer last night and I was all over the place.

“We came in just after sunset and then from nowhere there was a wall of people stood screaming our names. Everyone on a yacht nearby was shouting to us as well; they were just so excited. It was just what we’ve thought about every day since starting. It’s so good to be here with everyone now and to finish here it’s the perfect destination. We couldn’t think of a better way to end it.”

Will’s dad Simon, from Pearson Road in Shawford, said: “We are absolutely elated. The reception they received was phenomenal. They lit a flare when they came in and all the other crews who have already finished were there rooting for them because they’ve all bonded with each other so well.

“It has been out of this world. The interest from all the people in Antigua has been amazing; they cannot believe somebody can row the Atlantic.

“They really have done the most marvellous thing. Will’s had not one but two showers this morning, though he’s still sporting the beard, and I’m just so proud of what they’ve achieved. He’s my boy.”