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‘Phenomenal’ support for Wick couple’s round-Britain rowing challenge

By Alan Hendry

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Mhairi and Allan hope to raise at least £30,000 for the RNLI and Scotland's Charity Air Ambulance. Picture: Alan Hendry
Mhairi and Allan hope to raise at least £30,000 for the RNLI and Scotland's Charity Air Ambulance. Picture: Alan Hendry

The Wick couple hoping to set a round-Britain rowing record this summer say they are amazed by the “phenomenal” response from the public.

Allan Lipp and Mhairi Ross plan to head off at the end of May on their 60-day adventure and have set a £30,000 fundraising target for their chosen charities, the RNLI and Scotland’s Charity Air Ambulance.

Already, donations totalling more than £3000 have been pledged on the JustGiving page for their challenge, Stormy and Steth: The Long Row Home.

“It’s quite phenomenal, really,” Allan said. “Yes, there are a few friends and family there, but there’s quite a chunk of money coming from folk that we don’t really know and that’s just amazing.”

They are still keen to hear from businesses willing to become corporate sponsors.

“Any companies that are interested, we can have a chat,” Allan said. “It is quite a tight window now for any potential sponsors to come forward. If they want to do it, we need to be having a chat fairly quickly.”

Allan and Mhairi are attempting to become the first mixed pair to complete an unsupported circumnavigation of the British mainland by rowing boat.

Allan (44) is coxswain of the Wick RNLI lifeboat and Mhairi (47) is a Wick-based paramedic and volunteer lifeboat navigator. They will be taking up to three months' unpaid leave for the voyage and in the meantime are working hard to build up their physical fitness.

“We’ve got a gym at the house that we threw together, so basically when we’re not working or sleeping it’s at the gym,” Allan explained.

“Training is going well. I think it’s fair to say we’re both in a good place. Personally I feel really good and Mhairi does as well.

“We would have liked to be out in the boat more but the weather has just not been favourable for that. The brief interludes in the strong winds have either coincided with one of us not being able to get time off or something else that has just got in the way.

“We’re physically fit, we’ve been working hard at that, and hopefully that will stand us in good stead going for the round-Britain.”

Allan emphasised: “We are hugely grateful to the sponsors that have come on board. We can’t over-emphasise that, because ultimately that’s going to help the charities.

“People donating will spur us on, for sure.

“We’re aiming for the week commencing May 27. It’s probably not going to be the Monday that we set off, by the time we get everything set up and moving, but we’re aiming for sometime that week.

“If there’s a weather window we’ll be going for it, but we won’t until there is safe weather to get us across the Moray Firth.”

He added: “We’re going to be doing an audio podcast as we go around. It’s really just to chronicle the journey but it’s also to help promote the journey as that builds momentum.

“Hopefully we won’t be boring people to death, but it’ll just give little snapshots or updates on how we're going and we’re hoping that will promote the charitable causes. We will be doing video stuff as well.”

As it is an unsupported challenge, the couple will either be at sea or at anchor. They will not be able to enter a harbour or tie up at a quayside.

Their carbon-fibre boat, a Rannoch R15, is just seven metres long but has crossed the Atlantic twice under previous ownership.

Along with essential equipment they will be taking all their food as dehydrated ration packs. The boat is fitted with solar panels and has a desalination unit for turning salt water into fresh water.

Allan is originally from Alness, while Mhairi grew up in Edinburgh and moved to Lewis when she was 13. They came to Wick in the summer of 2019.

Anyone wishing to find out about corporate sponsorship packages can email stormyandsteth@gmail.com or go to Stormy and Steth’s Instagram or Facebook pages.

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