Tayside and Central Scotland

Scottish mother sets solo record in rowing race across Atlantic

Elaine Hopley Image copyright Ben Duffy
Image caption Ms Hopley crossed the finish line in Antigua

A Scottish mother-of-two has broken the solo female record in a prestigious rowing race across the Atlantic.

Elaine Hopley, 45, crossed the finish line of the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge in Antigua on Sunday morning.

Her time for the event, dubbed "the world's toughest row", was 59 days, 19 hours and 14 minutes.

She was raising money for Alzheimer Scotland and completed the "totally epic" challenge in a boat named after her mother, Jan.

Ms Hopley, an experienced endurance athlete from Dunblane, near Stirling, was the fastest woman to cross the Atlantic solo in the 30-year history of the race.

She has two sons, Guy and Harvey, who turned seven and nine during her time at sea.

She said it was hard being away from her family over Christmas and New Year.

"Seeing them all here today is just fantastic," she added.

Image copyright Be Duffy
Image caption The 45-year-old completed the race in 59 days, 19 hours and 14 minutes
Image copyright Ben Duffy
Image caption She described the challenge as "totally epic"

She described the gruelling rowing challenge "unlike anything I could have ever imagined".

"There were some terrifying thunderstorms where lightning bolts were incredibly close to the boat, but I pulled on through," she said.

The 45-year-old is an outdoor instructor and previously won the inaugural Women's Scottish mountain bike cross country series then repeatedly defended her title during the 1990s.

'Goal and dream'

She also completed solo rides between Land's End and John O'Groats, and throughout Australia, New Zealand and Chile.

Before setting off on the Atlantic challenge, from the Canary Islands in December, Ms Hopley said her mother, who was diagnosed with dementia played an important role in inspiring her crossing.

She said: "I love adrenaline sports and it has always been a goal and dream to cross an ocean, that for years has remained unfulfilled, as I have needed to support my mother who was diagnosed with dementia.

"I feel the need to raise funds for this little understood disease and this crossing is dedicated to her."

The overall race winners were Anglo-American quartet Latitude 35, who broke the race record to finish in just under 36 days.