If I was younger: Five years on Dr Fuller laughs at thought of attempting Atlantic Challenge again

From left, Dr Nicholas Fuller, Peter Smith, John “JD” Hall and Rowan “Archie” Bailey
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By Neto Baptiste 

Five years after being one of four Antiguans who were the first to take on and complete the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge, Dr Nicholas Fuller scoffed at the idea of taking on the 2,550 nautical miles row a second time.

As a matter of a fact, Fuller downright dismissed the notion, adding that as gratifying as it was, once is enough.

“If I was younger, I’d say yes, but not at this age. To be honest with you when somebody first called me to come on the radio and talk about this, I was happy to have done it but I wouldn’t say I have a lot of interest in it anymore. It’s just a plateau that I don’t think anyone of us will ever reach again in terms of achievements and satisfaction. It was wonderful; the people of Antigua and Barbuda treated us well. They treated all the teams well,” he said.

On February 10, 2016, the four-member team consisting of Fuller, Peter Smith, Rowan “Archie” Bailey and John “JD” Hall arrived in Antigua after completing the journey from La Gomera, Spain in 52 days, nine hours and nine minutes, becoming the oldest team to do so.

At that time, Smith was 74, Fuller 67, Bailey 50, and Hall 29.

Speaking recently on the Good Morning Jojo Sports Show, Fuller said he would not change a single thing about the experience, including his faithful crew.

“The first five or six said ‘no way’ because they saw this older guy with gray hair saying he wants to row the Atlantic and they must come with me so they said that’s not happening and that’s the same thing that happened with the sponsorship when I went around, I got very little sponsorship. I eventually ended up with who I had and Archie [Rowan Bailey] was early on the list because he and I were friends for years so he came right away, had no hesitation,” he said.

“I spoke to a young fellow in Barbuda who I know, and I know his parents, so we spoke to his parents and they said yes, but he never followed up. I called him about three times and I didn’t go back there again and the crew that went with me turned out to be first class; we had a good trip,” he added. 

Fuller, who orchestrated the historic row for Antigua and Barbuda after developing an interest in the event some time prior to 2015, said there was never any hesitation or doubt amongst the group regarding their ability to get the job done.

“No; never once. None of the four of us ever had that attitude and we never felt that way. We never felt that we wouldn’t make it and we just put our heads together and made it happen. The first half of the journey or the first 1500 miles is the most challenging and we had a lot of other challenges like hurricane Alex, so we had a lot of headwind in the first week that put us back, but from the time you hit the halfway mark, the whole mood changes because we were heading home so we never had any reservations; never had any second thoughts,” he said. 

Since that first journey for Antigua and Barbuda in 2015/16, the country has had four other teams that completed the row, to include Team Antigua Island Girls in 2019.

The team, comprising Kevinia Francis, Elvira Bell, Christal Clashing and Samara Emmanuel, became the first all-female Caribbean team to complete the gruelling Talisker Whiskey Atlantic Challenge and the first all-black team to row across the Atlantic.

There was also the team of Eli Fuller, John Watt, Nico Pshoyos and Scott Potter, while the duo of Joseph Nunes and Travis Weste completed the journey in 2021.

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