Dad's home

Adrian Flanagan with his ex-wife Louise and sons Gabriel, front, and Benji

Adrian Flanagan with his ex-wife Louise and sons Gabriel, front, and Benji

Mr Flanagan with ex-wife Louise and sons Gabriel and Benji

First published in News by

When yachtsman Adrian Flanagan was swept overboard just days into a round-the-world voyage, he thought he might never make it home.

But after 11 months battling fierce storms, monstrous waves and loneliness on an almost unimaginable scale, Mr Flanagan, from Ludgershall, near Bicester, is back on home turf. And there was not a dry eye in the house when he saw his two sons running towards him at the airport.

Mr Flanagan, 45, who had dreamed of sailing around the world since he was a boy, was forced to halt his voyage in Alaska last month, due to engine problems and Russian red tape.

But he says he is determined to complete the voyage next year, which would see him become the first person to sail solo around the world via the polar regions. He has already booked a ticket to fly to Alaska next June, so he can resume the voyage once ice in the Arctic Ocean recedes, allowing him to sail along the north cost of Russia.

Although he has missed out on his aim of completing the voyage non-stop, Mr Flanagan has already won a place in the record books by making the first recorded single-handed, non-stop and unassisted passage between the UK and Hawaii.

Sitting at the kitchen table with his sons, Gabriel, four, and Benji, seven, Mr Flanagan said: "It feels very strange, like I have just been away for the weekend. It's slightly disorientating."

Although the trip has taken its toll physically - he dislocated both his wrists and suffered a near dislocation of his shoulder - Mr Flanagan said the hardest part was being separated from the boys.

But he said he was very careful not to make himself emotionally vulnerable. He said: "There were no pictures of the children on the boat. I didn't run the risk of making myself sentimental - that would have been a compromise and unsafe. It was really important to maintain an even emotional keel."

And he said one of the biggest surprises about the trip, which saw him go for more than six months without any human company, was how he coped mentally.

He said: "Emotionally I was pretty well-balanced. I thought I would be much more volatile. I felt very scared a lot of the time, but the way I dealt with it, I surprised myself."

Mr Flanagan has been raising money for the Oxford Children's Hospital campaign and Save the Children.

And although he said he is disappointed with the amount raised so far - about £2,000 - he hopes to raise much more over the coming months with a fresh fundraising drive before he takes to the water again.

He also plans to organise the next leg of his trip, and write a book about sailing round Cape Horn. Mr Flanagan said: "I have learned that you can't force any situation and you can apply that to anything in life. You have to adapt to the situation which is more powerful than you.

"I always felt this great dissatisfaction before, like there was some great hole I wanted to fill, and I suspect that probably won't be there any more."

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