Diageo’s Ollie Palmer and his team crowned winners of the Talisker Atlantic Challenge 2019
Feature 15 JAN 2020
British four-boat, Fortitude IV have been crowned winners of this year’s Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge – the world’s toughest rowing race.
The four friends – including the first ever Diageo employee Ollie Palmer (Head of Customer Marketing, Europe and America Diageo Global Travel) to row the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge along with Tom Foley, Hugh Gillum and Max Breet – completed the 3000-mile rowing race in 32 days, 12 hours, 35 minutes, arriving into English Harbour, Antigua on 13 January 2020 – the first dry land the team have seen since departing from La Gomera in the Canary Islands, over one month ago, on 12th December last year.
It was not an easy crossing for the winning team - this year’s weather conditions were tough and there was a close rivalry with Australian four-boat, Rowed Less Travelled, who are due to arrive in Antigua within the next 48 hours.
The team endured some of the strongest winds ever experienced by the race - causing waves up to 12 metres in height, broken oars, capsizing as well as sores and bruises.
But alongside extreme weather conditions, the participants have also experienced incredible wildlife sightings during their voyage – witnessing both highs and lows of mother nature during this elemental adventure. Whales, orca and repeat sightings of flying fish jumping over their boat and even hitting rowers’ heads – Fortitude IV reported a pod of dolphins and sea turtles circling around their boat on Christmas Day – such sightings lifting spirits on this epic journey. The natural wonders combined with the challenge of both mental and physical endurance result in a life-changing achievement – and affirm the rowers’ motivations for entering.
“It feels amazing – words won’t be able to sum up how we feel, what we’ve just gone through and then seeing friends and family just now. The memories we have out there will last a lifetime. With all that time on the ocean, you definitely realise what’s important to you.”
“The most amazing thing I saw was this incredible array of stars – all moving along in a line in a train – there must have been 200 or 300 stars. That for me was the most incredible thing I saw – along with lots of wildlife; dolphins, whales and turtles.”Ollie Palmer
Fortitude IV and Diageo Employee
Elsewhere in the fleet, 9 boats are expected to finish within the next week, with some of the solo boats predicted to spend up to 8 more weeks at sea.
Talisker Whisky has sponsored the Atlantic Challenge for six years and share the same love for adventure and the world’s oceans. Talisker has a rich history with the sea – in 1830 Talisker Whisky was founded by the MacAskill brothers who rowed from Eigg to Skye to find the perfect spot for their distillery in Scotland. Just like the Talisker distillery, this row represents what it means to be made by the sea.
Talisker is excited to announce their continued sponsorship of the Atlantic Challenge and has renewed their partnership with the race for two years.
“We are absolutely thrilled to welcome Fortitude IV into English Harbour in Antigua as the winners of this year’s Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge. I am personally proud of my dear friend and colleague, Ollie Palmer, for him and his teammates to have accomplished this unbelievable achievement, unthinkable to most. Talisker joins their family and friends in celebrating these Wild Spirits and know that their journey will inspire others to embrace their inner-adventurer and reconnect with nature and the things that matter most.”Natalia Montigny
Head of Global Marketing for Talisker