Well-wishers broke out the champagne to welcome home Elaine 'Shooter' Alexander as she completed her solo circumnavigation of Ireland by kayak yesterday.
The first woman from Northern Ireland to complete such a feat, Shooter landed at County Antrim Yacht Club 71 days after setting off from the same spot on her 1,000-mile challenge to raise funds for local charity SHARE.
Shooter's skills were regularly tested to the limit. On one occasion she suffered severe sea sickness after getting caught in a large swell during a 12-mile crossing near Brandon Bay.
“I was fully committed with a cliff face on one side and a long paddle to America on the other, so I had to continue despite being severely ill,” she said.
But the challenge wasn't all doom and gloom. One highlight was when Shooter was joined by a pod of six dolphins for over an hour near Easkey on the Sligo coast. And above all, the people she met along the way have left a lasting impression.
“The support from the kayaking community and local fisherman has been great," she said. "Kayakers have paddled stretches with me, met me with tea and biscuits, gave me warm beds and hot showers, shared invaluable local knowledge – I can’t thank them enough."