The crew of the rowing boat Yantu, who have just conquered the Atlantic, said yesterday it was only since returning to Hong Kong that the magnitude of their achievement had started to sink in. Christian Havrehed, 31, an SAR-based management consultant, is the first Dane and first Hong Kong resident to row the Atlantic, while Sun Haibin, 27, a Beijing Sports University student, is the first Asian. They came eighth out of 36 boats in the 5,180km Ward Evans Atlantic Rowing Challenge, despite having picked up an oar for the first time less than a year ago. After 56 days in almost total isolation rowing unassisted from Tenerife to Barbados, they are now at the centre of a whirl of press conferences and sponsorship commitments. The ache in their backsides from the rowing seats is fading, callouses on their palms are peeling away and their fingers - formerly used to gripping an oar for hours on end - are becoming more flexible. But why did they do it? Yesterday, speaking at the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club, Havrehed said he had always been interested in ocean exploration and wanted to complete a project completely based on goodwill that could show two cultures working together. Travel and immigration brought people from different cultures physically close to each other but did not necessarily make them understand each other, he said. The pair also used the challenge to raise money to send mainland children to the United World College of the Atlantic in Britain, where Havrehed's interest in China was first sparked. In a few days, Havrehed and Sun will be off to Beijing, where there has been intense media interest in their journey. The next stop for the Yantu is a show in Copenhagen, Denmark, where a sponsor will use it to launch a new line of equipment. The pair are considering taking part in another endurance event, possibly one Sun hopes to establish on the mainland. And Havrehed would like to incorporate the Yantu into his management consultancy - envisaging China-Western joint venture partners literally sitting in the same boat.