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Flares Up: A Story Bigger than the Atlantic - New Book Reveals Drama of Transatlantic Rowing Adventure

1st October 2022
Paul Hopkins and Phil Pugh set out on their journey
Paul Hopkins and Phil Pugh set out on their journey Credit: kind permission of Atlantic Campaigns

English firefighter Paul Hopkins (55) had recovered from a brain haemorrhage and entrepreneur Phil Pugh (65) was renowned for undertaking extreme physical challenges in honour of his son when they rowed into Antigua in a fourth-hand wooden rowing boat in February 2020.

The pair, who undertook the transatlantic challenge on a tight budget, had no family there to greet them after 70 days at sea.

Phil Pugh and Paul Hopkins before (above) and after their voyage Photos: Atlantic CampaignsPhil Pugh (below) and Paul Hopkins (above) before and after their voyage Photos: Atlantic Campaigns

Phil Pugh and Paul Hopkins before (above) and after their voyage Photos: Atlantic Campaigns

However, Irish-born author and former television director Niamh McAnally and her husband Gary Krieger were there on their yacht, Freed Spirit, and the result is a compelling book which records how two “disparate alpha males” learned to work together by focussing on solutions rather than problems during a life-changing high-seas voyage.

Paul and Phil arriving in Antigua. Photo by Niamh McAnallyPaul and Phil arriving in Antigua. Photo by Niamh McAnally

McAnally and Krieger spoke to Wavelengths about how the book came about. You can listen to the podcast here and details of the book are below.

Nelson's Dockyard, Antigua. L to R Gary Krieger (author's husband) Phil Pugh, Niamh McAnally (author) Paul Hopkins taken before dinner onboard Gary and Niamh's sailboat home, Freed Spirit. Three hours later the idea for this book was bornNelson's Dockyard, Antigua. L to R Gary Krieger (author's husband) Phil Pugh, Niamh McAnally (author) Paul Hopkins taken before dinner onboard Gary and Niamh's sailboat home, Freed Spirit. Three hours later the idea for this book was born

Flares Up: A Storm Bigger than the Atlantic by Niamh McAnallyFlares Up: A Storm Bigger than the Atlantic by Niamh McAnally

Flares Up: A Story Bigger than the Atlantic by Niamh McAnally with a foreword by Jeremy Irons ( Pitch Publishing £14.99) is available in print and on audiobook form, and more details are on McAnally’s website 

A video of Jeremy Irons speaking at the Dublin launch of Niamh McAnally's book FLARES UP is below.

Lorna Siggins

About The Author

Lorna Siggins

Email The Author

Lorna Siggins is a print and radio reporter, and a former Irish Times western correspondent. She is the author of Search and Rescue: True stories of Irish Air-Sea Rescues and the Loss of R116 (2022); Everest Callling (1994) on the first Irish Everest expedition; Mayday! Mayday! (2004); and Once Upon a Time in the West: the Corrib gas controversy (2010). She is also co-producer with Sarah Blake of the Doc on One "Miracle in Galway Bay" which recently won a Celtic Media Award

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Afloat's Wavelengths Podcast with Lorna Siggins

Weekly dispatches from the Irish coast with journalist Lorna Siggins, talking to people in the maritime sphere. Topics range from marine science and research to renewable energy, fishing, aquaculture, archaeology, history, music and more...

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