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


Cruel sea defeats epileptic rower

John Ezard, The Guardian

Saturday April 5, 2003

A lone British oarsman was taken aboard a fishing boat hungry and depressed yesterday after a 4,117-mile odyssey which proved remarkable only for his courage, endurance and ultimately futile effort. 

Andrew Halsey, 45, a bricklayer from Camden, north London, had hoped to become the world's most celebrated person with epilepsy. Instead he achieved a world record for the smallest distance travelled in the most time at sea in a rowing boat. 

By the time of his rescue by the Panamanian vessel near the Galapagos islands in the Pacific, his food supplies were exhausted, his locational beacons were switched off and his satellite phone was disconnected because of an unpaid bill. He has also lost the support of the Ocean Rowing Society for any future attempts. 

However, he emerged as something of a role model for fellow epileptics by surviving at least four seizures and 129 days alone at sea without needing to abandon his voyage. 

Mr Halsey set out from Peru in November in an attempt to become the fourth single-handed oarsman to cross the Pacific. But adverse winds and currents meant that he covered only 879 of the 8,108 miles to Australia. He had the frustration of rowing - or drifting - an average of 31 miles a day, but only travelling just under seven miles a day in the correct direction. 

"Perhaps I'll make it the longest row in history," he joked at one point. 

"He has guts and determination - tenacity. Nobody can take that away from him," the Ocean Rowing Society's executive director, Kenneth Crutchlow, said. However, he said the society had developed doubts about Mr Halsey's judgment."It's a heck of a long distance for an epileptic to row. The question now is why."