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Novice rowers triumph on 100-mile St Kilda trip

A GROUP of novice rowers from Skye are back on dry land after completing a 100-mile journey from St Kilda to Portree in an open wooden skiff built more than a century ago.

BRILLIANT TIME: Rowers told of their 30-hour trip after arriving on Skye.
BRILLIANT TIME: Rowers told of their 30-hour trip after arriving on Skye.

The eight oarsmen and three coxswains had left the remote Atlantic archipelago at 4am on Friday morning.

Their passage lasted just over 30 hours across 41 miles of the Atlantic, then through the Sound of Harris and across the Minch, where they were welcomed by a crowd at Portree Harbour on Saturday morning.

Sleep deprivation, sea sickness, blisters, back pain and chaffing from the boat's wooden seats were among the many obstacles they had to overcome in a bid to complete their task.

The team, comprising eight men and three women, was inspired to attempt the feat after hearing that the old MacLeod chiefs of Dunvegan used to have a man rowed out to St Kilda to collect rents from the island's tenant farmers.

The 20ft-long skiff, which was built for the Macdonald family of Portree in the late 1890s, was last used in 1913, but had lain forgotten in a Skye boat shed since before the outbreak of the First World War. It was restored by local boat builder Iain MacLean last year and named the Aurora.

The rowers, who aimed to raise £20,000 for the RNLI and Skye and Lochalsh Young Carers, spent two years preparing for the challenge. Five of the eight are volunteers with Portree RNLI.

Team leader Donnie ­Nicolson said: "We are delighted to have completed the row in such a brilliant time. We are tired, but sheer adrenalin and all the support we've been getting has kept us going."

He added: "The Aurora performed really well. She's an old lady and has to be treated with care."

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