The oldest female crew ever to cross an ocean arrived back in Yorkshire yesterday to be hailed as “brilliant ambassadors for the county” - and labelled as “absolutely bonkers” by tourism supremo Sir Gary Verity.
The four Yorkshire Rows - Janette Benaddi, 51, Helen Butters, 45, Niki Doeg, 45, and Frances Davies, 47 - completed the 3,000-mile trans-Atlantic trip from La Gomera in the Canary Islands to Antigua in the West Indies in 67 days to claim their place in the record books.
Their superhuman efforts have raised thousands of pounds for Yorkshire air ambulance and a new Maggie’s cancer centre in Leeds, as well as lifting the profile of the Broad Acres around the world.
“What these four women have just achieved says ‘Yorkshire’ in every way,” said Sir Gary, the chief executive of Welcome to Yorkshire. “They have grit, determination and are absolutely bonkers. They are fantastic ambassadors for the county.”
Sir Gary also marvelled at the fact that the four mums had completed the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge at all after after Ms Butters, an NHS communications expert from Cawood, Selby, let slip her lack of navigational skills.
“We were having an conversation in the office upstairs and I spoke about Yorkshire’s rich maritime history going back to Captain James Cook and John Harrison, who invented the clock that solved the riddle of longitude,” explained Sir Gary. “Helen’s response was ‘So which is longitude and which is latitude?’”
Fortunately for the Yorkshire Rows, Helen conceded before she first stepped into the boat that as navigating was her weakness, she was happy to take on other roles.
Skipper Janette Benaddi, a clinical researcher from Burn, Selby, said: “My biggest responsibility was making sure everyone got home safely,” said Ms Benaddi.
“It was never in doubt but even so I was absolutely relieved when we first saw land off Antigua.”