THIS is the moment that Hannah Lawton’s “nightmare” voyage finally came to an end.
It had been almost four months since the young woman set off from Spain with the ambitious aim of rowing 3,000 miles across the Atlantic with her friend Lauren Morton.
What followed was a dreadful voyage that ended in failure when they had to be rescued from their heavily damaged vessel in the middle of the ocean.
So when she finally touched down in Heathrow on Saturday, Ms Lawton couldn’t keep her emotions in check for long.
“I told myself that I wouldn’t cry, but my mum had told me to expect tears and then as soon as I saw her and my dad cry that was it, I was gone,” said Ms Lawton, who has roots in Co. Mayo.
The 25-year-old’s return to Britain came two months she and Ms Morton found themselves stranded in the ocean after the rudder broke off their boat, the last in a long line of malfunctions.
The women, who were rowing across the Atlantic in memory of a university friend who died from cancer, had vowed to fight on and mend the vessel.
But they were left with no choice when their efforts proved fruitless, at which point they hitched a lift to Canada with a passing cargo ship.
It was then that Air Canada President Eamonn Ferrin, a Belfast native, stepped in to offer them free flights home.
Now that she is back in Britain, Ms Lawton looks forward to reclaiming her damaged £50,000 vessel when it drifts into the Caribbean so she can make a complaint to its manufacturers, Christchurch-based company Rossiter Yachts.
“It was the problems with the equipment that meant we had to pack it in,” the rower explained.
“And when you put so much time, effort and money into doing this, it is so heartbreaking for something like the workmanship on the boat to be the thing that lets you down. It’s just not fair.”
But Ms Lawton vowed not to be “beaten by the ocean”, adding that she plans to take on the epic challenge of rowing the Atlantic again in 2015.