Saturday, October 23, 1999 Published at 17:47 GMT 18:47 UK
Windsurfer sails into record books
The lows were the pollution, the exhaustion - and the weather
A 41-year-old father-of-four has become the first windsurfer to complete the journey around Britain and Ireland.
Richard Cooper, 41, from Marlborough in Wiltshire, took 61 days to complete his trip around the 2,000 miles of coastline.
The tired and dishevelled company manager returned on Saturday to Gosport, Hampshire, from where he began his journey on 22 August.
Mr Cooper was welcomed back by his wife Mandy and children Amy, three, George, six, Jack, eight, and Rosie, 10.
"It has certainly been the toughest thing I have ever done in my life with some of the lowest lows and highest highs," he said.
"It has been a fantastic experience."
Cooper said a typical day had involved getting up at 0530BST and windsurfing for about eight hours, before falling asleep in his wetsuit in his support boat.
He said the toughest time had been the first month when he and his support team had fallen behind schedule and had been unsure whether they could make it round Scotland before bad weather set in.
He said another low had been the appalling amount of litter and pollution he had seen in the sea on his way around the coastline.
But he said windsurfing beside dolphins, seals and whales had been a highlight of the expedition.
'Won't miss the windsurfing'
Mr Cooper had taken eight months off work to train for and complete the feat.
He said: "What I am really looking forward to now is getting home and being a dad again, for a few days at least.
"I won't miss the windsurfing. I might not do that again for a while, but I will miss the sea."
Mr Cooper was raising money for the environmental charity The Marine Conservation Society during his trip, and hopes to have collected about £50,000.
Earlier this year, a 23-year-old windsurfer set the record for completing an 1,800-mile journey around Britain's coastline.
Keith Russell, from Hayling Island, shaved eight days off the previous record set in 1984 by completing the trip in 61 days.
The former record-holder was Tim Batstone, from Llandudno, who set the record with a 70-day-trip in 1984.