Welcome home to Lymington, Ocean Brothers!
Atlantic rowers, Jude Massey and Greg Bailey, were greeted by hundreds of supporters in Lymington on Good Friday.
30 March 2018
Guinness World Record Breaking Jude Massey and Greg Bailey, the Ocean Brothers, rowed home to Lymington on Good Friday, 30th March 2018. They were followed up the Lymington River by a flotilla of boats and welcomed ashore by hundreds of supporters and wellwishers, all celebrating the brothers' success in rowing unsupported across the Atlantic Ocean. Jude is now the youngest person to have rowed any ocean in a pair. Read more about the Ocean Brothers' row here.
The brothers rowed the Atlantic Ocean unsupported to raise money for the British Skin Foundation to fund vital skin cancer research, and in memory of Jude's father (Greg's step-father) Pete Massey, who lost his 16 year battle with skin cancer two years ago. So far the pair have raised a monumental £92,000 and they are hoping this figure will move closer to their goal of £100,000 when other pledges are received. Click here to donate.
The Ocean Brothers row home to Lymington
Greg, Jude and their Mum, Alexandra Massey, were brought back to Southampton by P&O Cruises on Britannia, enabling them to spend time recovering from their arduous voyage. Whilst on board the pair enthralled other passengers as they spoke in detail about their 53 day row from Gran Canaria to Barbados and the many challenges they had faced throughout the journey.
At Southampton their 6.47m long boat was lowered back into the water. Greg and Jude were met by Azara Marine's Jon Chittock, who towed them down the Solent, then released them at the Lymington River so that they could complete their journey in fitting style to the delight of the crowds.
Braving the elements and waiting in the mouth of the Lymington River was a wonderful - and large (given the cold, rainy conditions) - flotilla of boats. Lymington Rowing Club shivered in the freezing conditions as they waited for their fellow oarsmen (and oarswomen) and several sailors in their tiny Optimist dinghies tacked back and forth. Local sponsors, BHG Marine, Lymington Yacht Haven and Bartley Marketing were all out in RIBs, along with many other locals in motor boats and yachts. The Lymington RNLI Lifeboat and Harbour Master launches kept everyone in check. As the Ocean Brothers arrived at the mustering flotilla a huge cheer went up, accompanied by air horns and whistles. It was quite a welcome and an incredible sight for Greg and Jude, as well as for all of us out on the water!
"As we approached the waiting boats, all I could think was how heart warming it was to feel that Lymington people would want to come out in their boat and accompany us in the flotilla," said Jude. "It felt as if all the support we'd heard and read about on social media was really true in the flesh!"
As the 14:05 Yarmouth-Lymington Wightlink ferry approached the mustering boats, fully dressed in flags, it sounded its horn and slowed to lead the flotilla up the river, before heading on to keep to its busy schedule.
The Ocean Brothers picked up the pace and rowers, sailors and motor boats jostled for position, albeit incredibly politely! Horns sounded, whistles peeped and flags were waved by freezing fingers.
Spectators lined the shore to watch the impressive flotilla
As the flotilla advanced upriver we started to hear the cheers from the shore. It brought tears to our eyes to see so many people lining the shore to see the brothers - there were hundreds of people and umbrellas as far as the eye could see along the paths in front of the Lymington Sea Water Baths and around to the slipway. Both Lymington Town Sailing Club and the Royal Lymington Yacht Club were packed impressively with cheering supporters.
Good on Lymington! Braving the wind and rain to welcome home Greg and Jude!
Said Greg afterwards: "I was slightly out of my comfort zone having so many boats around us, something we had never experienced before and also so close to each other. I saw a yacht trying to pass the flotilla in the opposite direction and it must have wondered what on Earth was coming its way! To see such a massive turnout of people on the shoreside in the pouring rain drew a tear to my eye. To see Lymington come together and see the greater purpose of this community fired up was one of the most appreciated things I've ever witnessed."
A warm welcome from Mayor and MP
Waiting to welcome the brothers on the Harbour Master's pontoon were Lymington Mayor, Barry Dunning, and Rt Hon Sir Desmond Swayne TD MP, along with photographers, family and friends.
The brothers lit hand held flares to celebrate their homecoming after such a wonderful achievement. The flares lit up the dreary grey sky, providing a great spectacle for those on shore. The crowds cheered, clapped and waved as Jude and Greg then steered their boat alongside the Harbour Master's Pontoon and stepped off to be greeted ashore.
Over the last 18 months, Greg and Jude have touched the hearts of many people, initially in the local area and increasingly nationwide following coverage of their tranatlantic row in regional media and on the BBC Radio 2's Chris Evans Breakfast Show. Their humble determination to raise funds for the British Skin Foundation and to carry out a monumental UNSUPPORTED 3,000 mile row in memory of their late father and step-father has made them a household name. What's more the brothers are seriously lovely, levelheaded and good fun. They have time for everyone and delight in all who have shown and interest in their boat, their challenge and their cause. That so many ventured out in wind, rain and freezing conditions to welcome the brothers home is true testament to their popularity.
After their welcome back home to Lymington, the brothers followed the 15:00 Wightlink ferry back down the river, turning then into Lymington Yacht Haven, where close friends and family were waiting, along with press and sponsors.
Following press interviews, the brothers were led into The Haven Bar & Restaurant by Lymington Mayor, Barry Dunning, now in his 120 year old robes.
Rapturous applause at The Haven
The Haven was packed with supporters, sponsors, family and friends. As the brothers entered the bar the place simply erupted!
"I hadn't considered everyone would be expecting our arrival in The Haven, so when we walked in and heard the roar of so many familiar and new faces I honestly was buzzing and shocked," said Jude. "It felt electric in there and charged with energy - I could have rowed another ocean with that feeling right there and then!"
After a beer and many welcome home hugs and pats on the back, it was time for a few speeches. Greg and Jude thanked everyone who have helped them achieve their transatlantic row, including local sponsors and partners (amongst them Bartley Marketing, BHG Marine, New Forest Cottages, Everton Hyundai and Azara Marine), plus of course Lymington Yacht Haven and The Haven team.
Greg and Jude also thanked Laura Overton of Entice Marketing & PR and Tanya Baddeley of Bartley Marketing & Lymington.com, who have worked closely with Lisa Bickerstaffe of the British Skin Foundation, volunteering an enormous amount of time and effort. As well as organising the homecoming event, Tanya managed the Ocean Brothers' social media channels for them for the 53 days they were at sea, whilst Laura worked her PR magic to get the Ocean Brothers exposure on press and radio. This all on top of their normal jobs!
The Mayor announced Tatiana from the Ocean Rowing Society International, who presented both brothers with a certificate and Jude with a framed certificate confirming his Guinness World Record for being the youngest person to row any ocean as a pair.
Then it was time to celebrate with cake! Created by Frances from Sticky Moments, the cake was a wonderful reproduction of the brothers' boat, including details such as the little bird that followed them from Gran Canaria over to Barbados - they named him Pete.
The Ocean Brothers would like to thank everyone who has supported them, including all those who ventured out in the rain to welcome them home.
Shared Greg: "As a community we can grow stronger and stronger, do our own thing and nurture with our own efforts without waiting for someone else or an organisation to pick things up. The more projects no matter how small or big which we unite together and get behind as Lymington, the more this benefits everyone young and old. I hope in the future we can find go further and further as whole community for the collective consciousness."
25th April: An Evening with the Ocean Brothers
On 25th April 2018, Jude and Greg will be talking about their incredible row across the Atlantic at the Balmer Lawn Hotel. Find out more and how to get tickets here.
We think we know who missed Jude the most during his record-breaking travels... his gorgeous dog, Lola.
Photos: Adam Lynk, Steve Elson, John Carratt, Tanya Baddeley