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

 

 Andrew WILSON
 (b.1958 - lost at sea 1980)

Click here to view some photos of Andrew Wilson >>>


On June 25th 1980, 33 years ago, 22 years old Andrew Wilson (UK), the youngest person to attempt to row an ocean solo, pushed his ocean rowboat Nautica into the sea off St John’s in Newfoundland – and… disappeared.
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Oxford student Andrew Wilson worked for five months to build the dream boat which might carry him across the Atlantic in record time for a single-handed oarsman.
Toiling late into the night at his old school metal-work room he built a 20ft long dory which was eventually named Nautica. Using a traditional design dating back to the 14th century, he added the 20th century refinements of buoyancy tanks at either end and a fibre glass cover.

He took advice from Scotsman Tom McClean, who then was holding the solo crossing record for the Atlantic West – East from Canada (70 days); and spoke to Kenneth F.Crutchlow and Peter Bird in California, who then were preparing Peter’s solo row from San Francisco to Australia.

Then with hopes high Andrew, the youngest person to attempt to row an ocean solo, set off on June 25 1980. There had been no radio contact from him and no reported sighting. Ten months later, in April 1981 Nautica was found washed up on the uninhabited island of South Uist in the Hebrides.

Kalid Malik, who helped Andrew build the Nautica believes Andrew must have got most of the way across the ocean - otherwise strong currents would have swept the Nautica straight back to Canada.
"I don't regret helping him build the boat," he said. "In fact I am very proud of the fact that I knew him and very proud of the fact that he got so far.
"I think he was a great guy. He really was very dedicated to what he set out to achieve - and there aren't a lot of people like that in this life."
Andrew was not a novice in extreme adventures - he had previous experience of an endurance ordeal. While at London University’s Royal Holloway College, 20 years old Andrew led an expedition to the Arctic Circle. At one stage his party was trapped in tents for two weeks by a blizzard.

The discovery of the boat unravelled the mystery surrounding Andrew’s disappearance.

Some months or even a year after Andrew’s boat was discovered, a sealed film canister was washed up in the Hebrides.
When the film was processed, it contained some self portraits of Andrew – a final word…”

Those who knew Andrew want him to be remembered by just one simple motto:

                                                                                 HE WHO DARES WINS.

 
Newspapers' articles
 
 

STUDENT Andrew Wilson worked for five months to build the dream boat which might carry him across the Atlantic in record time for a single-handed oarsman.
Toiling late into the night, in a school metal-work room he built a 20ft long dory which was eventually named Nautica.
He took advice from the man who holds the current crossing record - Scotsman Tom McClean, a former SAS man, who rowed over in 70 days..
Then with hopes high Andrew pushed the Nautica into the sea off St John’s in Newfoundland - and disappeared.

Andrew, a 22-year-old business studies post graduate, set off on June 25. There has 
been no radio contact from him and no reported sighting in the 102 days since then.,

Radio call
Before leaving his home at Bullbrock Crescent, Blacknell, Berkshire, Andrew arranged with his father, Mr Geoff Wilson, to make a regular radio call to the Post Office International Radio Station at Portishead every Saturday. 
But 16 Saturdays have now passed in silence. 
Experts have suggested that Andrew’s radio may have been damaged by salt water in heavy seas; and another theory from his father is that he abandoned it overboard to reduce weight.
There is nothing positive to show he has come to any harm.
He installed a special beacon which would send out a bleeping emergency signal if the craft was capsized. But nothing has been heard from that either. 
But Andrew took with him only enough milk, beer, stout and food to last him little more than 100 days on a normal diet. 
The arrival in Britanny of French rower Gerard d’Aboville two weeks ago after a 72-day crossing from Cape Cod increased hopes that Andrew’s boat would be sighted soon.

Still hoping

But d’Aboville took a more southerly route and met more favourable winds than Andrew could have expected. Andrew’s anxious family is still hoping he will arrive soon.

Mrs Iris Wilson said “As far as we are concerned the situation hasn’t changed in as much as we are still waiting for some news.

Obviously I’m thinking that he’s come to the end of his stocks of food, but I’m hoping that he would have started to ration himself as soon as he realised that he wasn’t going to make it inside the time
All the coastguards have been alerted and it’s just a matter of waiting to hear that he’s been sighted off the coast of Ireland. 
We realise that his radio is not operating, for whatever reason, so we don’t really expect to hear anything from Portishead. The arrangement was for them to ring us as soon as Andrew contacted them.
Andrew, now an Oxford student, built the Nautica at his old school, Garth Hill at Blacknell.
Using a traditional design dating back to the 14th century, he added the 20th century refinements of buoyancy tanks at either end a fibre glass cover.
Andrew has previous experience of an endurance ordeal. While at London University’s Royal Holloway College, he led an expedition to the Arctic Circle. At one stage his party was trapped in tents for two weeks by a blizzard.
Mrs Wilson said: “Of course we know he’s sensible and able to look after himself, in the worst conditions. But when he first came up with the idea we told him outright that we thought he was a bloody fool. It sounds bad, but that was the language we used.
The whole of this ghastly summer we have been waiting and we knew there was a possibility that he would not come back.
When Kenneth Kerr had to abandon a similar attempt last summer, his boat turned up a couple of months later on the coast of Ireland. We will wait until we get that sort of proof before we accept anything.

 

OARSMAN GIVEN UP FOR DEAD

By JOANNE MOORE

Monday, April 27. 1981
[ Name of the newspaper N/A]

The rowing boat belonging to missing Atlantic oarsman Andrew Wilson has been found wrecked on a Scottish isle.

There was no sign of a 23-year-old Andrew. He is presumed drowned.

Andrew, from Bracknell, set off from Newfoundland in June last year to row the Atlantic.
Fears for his safety started growing soon after his departure as radio contact could never be made.
He planned to be home by October but no sign of the 20 foot rowing boat was seen until this weekend when it was found by a crofter on the Isle of Luirsay.
An Inverness police spokesman said today: "We have confirmed beyond doubt that that this was the boat used by Andrew Wilson.
"There was equipment on board that was known to be his and we have traced the timber merchants who made the boat."
A Japanese camera, sun glasses and food packages were found on the boat.
Andrew's mother Iris refused to believed that her son would not return.
Members of the Holy Trinity Church in Bracknell prayed each Sunday for his safety.
But buy January even Mrs. Wilson and Andrew's father, Jeff, had given up hope of seeing him again.
Andrew, a student at Wolfenden College, Oxford, had hoped to raise money for the Ken Thomas scanner appeal.
The discovery of the boat has finally squashed rumours that Andrew never set out on the journey.
Stories that Andrew had not left Newfoundland were started when no sighting of his boat were made, but these distressed his family and were strongly denied by friends and backers.
The last person to see Andrew alive was co-boat builder Ray Bentley.

Mr. Bentley, 28, of Raleigh Road, Feltham, went to Newfoundland to wave Andrew off on his Atlantic adventure.
He was certain until recently that Andrew would return.
He said: "I watched Andrew paddled out over the horizon.
"He was in good spirits, the weather was fine and the tide was just right."
Ray helped Andrew build the boat and started writing a book about the crossing. He hoped to be able to finish it when Andrew returned.
 

ATLANTIC SOLO ROW BID "WAS LUNACY"

By Terry Kerr and Wendy Buckingham

EVENING POST
April 29, 1981

A veteran coastguard, who examined lost oarsman Andrew Wilson's boat, claims the attempt to cross the Atlantic was lunacy.
But his controversial comments have been strongly rejected by the man, who helped build the boat - found washed up on a remote Scottish island.
And Andrew's mother, Mrs. Iris Wilson, said last night she was greatly relieved at the discovery of the boat and hopes it will unravel the mystery surrounding her son's disappearance.
She said at her Bullbrook Drive, Bracknell, home: "I am very relieved that something has come to the light at last and I am very proud that the boat that Andrew and Kalid made together has completed the journey".
But coastguard Donald MacPherson, who has kept watch around Scotland's west coast for 29 years, thinks it is a journey that should never have been attempted.
Mr. MacPherson inspected the home-made craft when it was found washed up on the uninhabited island of South Uist in the Hebrides.
He said the attempted crossing was lunacy.

Mystified

The ply-wood craft was wrecked when it hit the rocky shore at Luirsay.
And the veteran seaman was mystified to find there were no barnacles on the bottom of the craft which began an ocean voyage from Newfoundland in June ten months ago.
"The only thing that would have given away the fact that it has been in the water a long time would have been the barnacles - and they were missing", he said.
Mr. MacPherson, who is familiar with the currents and tides around the Hebrides, said the boat could have been washed up on one of the other uninhabited islands months ago and high spring tides would have swept it to its unusual resting place through a narrow sea entrance.
"But even if it was out of the water months ago, it would still have picked up shells on its journey," he added.
Kalid Malik, who helped Andrew build the Nautica hit back at the "lunacy" claim
He said the pair took constant advice from boat building experts while they were constructing the craft in a workshop at Bracknell's Garth Hill School.

Camera

Mr. Malik also said that he and Andrew had used barnacle-repellent paint on the Nautica's keel, and Andrew carried a special safety line to remove barnacles from the sides as he went along.
It seems most likely Andrew perished in the first few days of the voyage because he never made radio contact. Ships crossing the Atlantic saw no sign of his boat.
But Kalid believes Andrew must have got most of the way across the ocean - otherwise strong currents would have swept the Nautica straight back to Canada.
"I don't regret helping him build the boat," he said last night. "In fact I am very proud of the fact that I knew him and very proud of the fact that he got so far.
"I think he was a great guy. He really was very dedicated to what he set out to achieve - and there aren't a lot of people like that in this life."
Fish farmer Hugh Johnson, who led the police to the wreckage, said the bottom must have been in good condition before it hit the rocks.
Secured in the Nautica was a Nikon camera and film, which could hold clues to the mystery, surrounding the disappearance of the 23-year-old Bracknell student and end 10 months of uncertainty for Mrs. Wilson.
Last night she told of how she really felt great relief when she heard the rowing boat had been washed up.
Mrs. Wilson had given up virtually all hope that her son would ever be found alive and she shrank from the thought that she might spend the rest of her life wondering hat really happened.
But Mrs. Wilson is proud of her son's brave attempt to row the 2,500 mile ocean single-handed.
And despite his apparent death, she and Mr. Malik want him to be remembered by just one simple motto: HE WHO DARES WINS.

Anxiety

She said " I no longer believed he could be alive - that would be impossible after this time. But I suppose you still live in hope until you hear something concrete.
"I think the worry and anxiety would have gone on forever if we had never heard anything - the imagination works overtime when you don't know."
Mrs. Wilson originally tried to dissuade Andrew from attempting the voyage, but gave up when she realized the strength of his determination. And last night she said she did not regret failing to stop him setting out.
"Do you ever want children to do what they do? You are always apprehensive whether they are driving a motor car or rowing a boat.
"I couldn't have dissuaded him from going and I don't think I would have wanted to be the one to finally say to him, don't do it. It wouldn't have been right.

Courage

"He was absolutely 100 percent confident and took all the necessary precautions and advice from people who had actually rowed the Atlantic before.
"He wouldn't have set out if he hadn't been properly prepared. It took courage rather than skill to do it and he was healthy and strong and had the spirit - what more can you want?"
Mrs. Wilson said she could only guess what happened to Andrew after he set out last June from Newfoundland. He had planned to stay strapped into the boat throughout the voyage to avoid being washed overboard.
Now Andrew's father is planning to travel up to Scotland inside the next few days to look at the wreckage and talk to coastguards and the fisherman who found the boat.
A cassette recorder, with the dial still at zero, sunglasses, two food packs from Britain and a fork and spoon were in the craft along with the camera.
The finds are now in the hands of the Official receiver of Wrecks at Stornoway and are expected to be officially identified by the end of the week.

 

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