Antigua rowers say competition will reel in tourists

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Eli Fuller, captain of Team Antigua Atlantic Rowers, says his team’s participation in an international challenge will reaffirm the message that the twin-island state is open for business.
Fuller, owner of Adventure Antigua, said that bouncing back post-Irma has been difficult on  the tourism business because there is some confusion with many tourists thinking that both islands are “trashed.”
In an exclusive interview yesterday, Fuller said that the team’s entry to the 2017/2018 Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge this December comes at an opportune time as Antiguans and Barbudans need something that “positively showcases the country” to prospective visitors.
He expressed the hope that the challenge would bring various economic and social groups together to cheer the four men as they did when Team Wadadli made history in 2016 as the oldest team in the Guinness World Records to cross the Atlantic in 53 days.
Adding that Team Wadadli “bolstered morale and uplifted Antigua,” Fuller feels that the team’s participation will steer the local conversation away from topics such as politics, crime and corruption that can have a negative impact.
This time around, the local team features John Watt, Scott Potter, and Nico Psihoyos who have been training for months and practising with trips as far as the British Virgin Islands and as near as Redonda.
On Wednesday evening, ‘Cocktail for a cause,’ a fund-raising event, was held at Ana’s Restaurant and Art Gallery to raise money for the quartet. Fuller said Maria Britto, restaurant manager, committed to donate all commission on art sales to the Atlantic rowers.
Fuller and his teammates have acquired the row boat that they will use in the challenge. The boat costs U.S.$100,000. Before they leave for the Canary Islands, they will have to raise
an additional U.S.$80,000.  Fuller explained that the remaining funds will cover shipping of supplies, airfares and purchase of food for their odyssey.
In recognising that many groups in the state are asking for donations for post-Irma recovery programmes, Fuller said that this cause is equally worthy as those donations will be returned to the economy.
“We can’t help Barbudans or Dominicans if we are having financial difficulty ourselves, and so investing in tourism, investing in yachting is always sensible when that is the mainstay of your economy,” he explained.
The rules of the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge state that each participating team must raise money for a charity. Fuller explained that donations will be given to developing a marine park and a non-profit organisation devoted to Barbuda’s rebuilding.

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