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THE story of how one woman raced solo across the Atlantic in a 6.87metre rowing boat fascinated members at Bridge of Allan and Dunblane Rotary Club.

They welcomed Elaine Hopley who told her remarkable story on how she set a new Guinness World Record – a major motivation was to raise fund for Alzheimer Scotland on memory of her mother, whom she nursed for 17 years.

Extreme sporting activity is nothing new for Elaine. She is passionate about adrenaline sports and pushing her body and mind to the limits.

She won the inaugural Woman’s Scottish Mountain Bike Cross Country; she completed the 1,000-mile from Land’s End to John O’ Groats in less than seven days; and has undertaken solo unsupported bicycle tours of Australia, New Zealand and Chile.

But, she admitted, the prospect of crossing the Atlantic singlehandedly was daunting.

The idea for this challenge came in the form of the annual Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge.

Recognised as the toughest challenge for rowers, Elaine began her preparations two years ahead of the event that was to start in December 2016.

Not one to take things by half, Elaine worked up her fitness to the point where she undertook 27 hours unbroken rowing on an Ergo rowing machine in the Dunblane Centre – an effort which itself was a record.

Her custom fitted boat, named Jan in memory of her mother, came complete with its complex electrical systems and included a machine that provided desalinated water.

Of the dozen boats that left the Canaries in the challenge, only four were rowing solo and Elaine was the only woman to take it on on her own.

In the following weeks, there were 60ft swells, 25knot winds, tropical storms and nearer the finish line in Antigua, temperatures of 40 degrees Celsius.

There was continuous sleep deprivation, but also remarkable sightings of a minke whale, dolphins which swam alongside the boat, and various unusual birds –as well as a flying fish which came on board, hitting and bruising Elaine.

However, 59days, 19hours, 14minutes and nearly 3,000miles later, she reached Antigua and raised around £17,000 for the charity.

The Rotarians meet at the Westlands Hotel, on Thursday, September 14, they will hear from Claire Bird, who will talk about foraging in the countryside.

Anyone interested should contact secretary Iain Fraser by emailing secretary@dunbalnerotary.org.uk or calling 01786 882 751.