The Vikki Orvice Award for Women's Sports Writing | Shortlisted

Flares Up

by Niamh McAnally

A Story Bigger Than the Atlantic

Flares Up is a true story of adventure, tenacity and the capacity of the human spirit to triumph over adversity. Firefighter Paul Hopkins, 55, survives a brain haemorrhage. The experience motivates him to undertake the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge – to row 3,000 miles across the Atlantic. He teams up with entrepreneur Phil Pugh, who is aged 65 but renowned for undertaking extreme physical challenges in honour of his disabled son. They encounter major financial and physical setbacks, which cause years of delays and put a strain on both their marriages. Finally, on 12 December 2019, in a fourth-hand 20ft wooden boat, they set off from the Canary Islands. Violent storms, 30ft waves and equipment failure leave both men seasick, dehydrated and sleep-deprived. Alone on the ocean, they are forced to examine their lives. Was the decision to undertake this challenge brave, selfish or foolish? After 70 days, nine hours and 11 minutes at sea, they cross the finish line, two changed men. Will either of their wives be there to greet them?

Flares Up - FC
Explore the rest of the The Vikki Orvice Award for Women's Sports Writing Shortlist
The Power of Belief FC
A Woman's Game
Between Overs - FC
The Year of the Robin