WHILE many people brought in the New Year with friends, family and a few glasses of bubbly, the Bolton Atlantic Challenge team had to make their own unique entertainment.

Mark Brocklehurst, aged 52, Matt Nuttall, aged 44, Nick Griffiths, aged 42, and Finn Christo, aged 32, enjoyed a thimbleful of whisky and sang a chorus of Auld Lang Syne at midnight.

But the crew, who are about two hours behind us, chose to celebrate at “Bolton time”.

The men, who started the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge race on December 4, have been up against severe weather which has battered their boat, leading to inventive repair work by the men.

Despite the setbacks, the team is now more than half way through the challenge and hopes to finish by the end of January — and raise £250,000 for a junior mentoring project at Bolton Lads and Girls Club.

Mr Brocklehurst said: “We celebrated New Year at UK time because, although we are two hours behind, our hearts lie in Bolton.

“We all have synchronised watches, so counted down together and, when midnight came, we all muttered the chorus of Auld Lang Syne and had a little nip of whisky, which was barely a thimbleful but warmed the cockles.” As well as the celebrations, the team is still battling to repair the damage the severe weather has created.

Mr Brocklehurst said: “It was a good feeling to get to the half-way mark because it’s been such a slow process, due to the weather and repairs we’ve been unable to carry out.

“We have two rowing positions and one of the rails had started to deteriorate. We fixed it four or five times and have even used a chopping board to try and fix it.

“That’s what happens out here — one minute we’re chopping up our Christmas dinner and the next we’re using it for repairs. We have to constantly work out what we can sacrifice.”

The team’s progress can be tracked online at taliskerwhiskyatlantic challenge.com