The ORS Int. is the official adjudicator of ocean rowing records for Guinness World Records

 


The Scottish Press Association

SOLO ROWER ATTEMPTS DEADLY OCEAN VOYAGE

By Jude Sheerin, Scottish Press Association

 

A British ocean rower today launched a solo bid to cross the Atlantic in a 40-year-old boat which belonged to two other adventurers who died on a similar challenge.
Graham Walters, 60, from Thurmaston, Leicester, embarked from Spain this morning in the Puffin on his 3,000-mile mission to reach Antigua.
Forty years ago, the 15ft wooden-hulled boat was at the centre of an ill-fated record attempt by two other ocean rowers that ended in tragedy.

David Johnstone and John Hoare were engulfed by hurricane-tossed seas in September 1966 as they attempted to become the first to row the Atlantic in the 20th century. Puffin was discovered mid-Atlantic with Johnstone and Hoare's logbook intact on the upturned hull.
The last entry in the log was dated September 3rd 1966.
By an amazing coincidence,
 on the same day another pair of British rowers arrived  in Ireland. John Ridgway, from Ardmore, in the Highlands, and Chay Blyth, from Hawick in the Scottish Borders, succeeded in crossing the  same ocean in 90 days, to worldwide acclaim.

 

Following its recovery, the Puffin gathered dust in Exeter Maritime Museum and then a Dorset boathouse, before being taken out of retirement to complete the Atlantic crossing by Mr Walters.
The carpenter, who hopes to make the voyage in 100 days, has brought the logbook of the vessel's tragic previous owners to compare notes with his own progress.
The veteran rower, who is on his fourth trip - the second solo - across the ocean, said it was his toughest challenge yet.
"The Puffin is an old boat, it weighs 2.5 tonnes, so it's a bit like trying to row a skip filled with concrete," he said by mobile phone, shortly after setting out.
"It's much less slippery than modern boats and has a much bigger footprint in the water. It's very hard to row. My biggest worry is the weather deteriorating.
"Obviously, I'm ever mindful that David Johnstone and John Hoare were lost in a hurricane. I've just got to try and stay strong and focused, and do it for them."
He has 300 ration packs for his 14-week journey and hopes to snatch up to six hours of sleep a night.

Mr Walters set out at 9.55am from San Sebastian de La Gomera, Spain - the exact same spot from where explorer Christopher Columbus embarked when he became the first to sail the Atlantic.

Kenneth F Crutchlow, executive director of the Ocean Rowing Society International, which helped co-ordinate the trip, said: "Three thousand climbers have reached the summit of Mount Everest but only 179 rowers have succeeded in crossing the Atlantic.
"It's one of the toughest challenges around, even in a modern boat, but if anyone can do - it's Graham who can."