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


Epileptic man to row solo - with help of local firm

12:04 Friday 23rd August 2002

Photo by David Cox

Andrew receiving instructions on Iridium phone from Corps Communications: Nick Day is on Andrew's left and Jay Baxter - on the right at the yard of "Le Shark - Casual Wear"
AN EPILEPTIC man hopes to row from Peru to Australia with the help of a local company.

Andrew Halsey, 45, is keeping his 28ft by 4ft ocean rowboat at the Le Shark clothing company in Sutherland Road, Walthamstow.

There, it has been refurbished and maintained following his last expedition - a disastrous attempt to travel 7,500 miles through 160mph winds that almost killed him.

If Andrew completes this latest adventure - a journey that will see him try to row the same distance - he will be the first disabled person to complete the solo crossing.

Le Shark is sponsoring the rower and has also backed his previous attempts at the record.

In July 15, 1999, Halsey set off from San Diego, California, in an attempt to row single handed to Australia in nine months.

The trip was destined for disaster, however, as the intrepid traveller, from Russell Square, London, encountered some of the worst Pacific weather in living memory.

His tiny vessel was no match for winds of up to 160mph and, battered by wind and surf, he rowed thousands of miles in circles off the coast of Mexico.

By February Andrew had ran out of food and was forced to live on whatever he could catch out of the ocean.

Despite these setbacks, the Londoner refused to give up and, with nothing but a crumpled picture of his 15-year-old daughter to comfort him, he rowed on for another two months. He was then forced to abandon his journey.

Andrew, who suffers from epilepsy, later told the National Enquirer, an American newspaper: "I had salt sores on my hips and had to lance them with a fish hook.

"My sleeping bag was dry for probably one week out of 267 days, and I had countless epileptic fits - but I was determined to go on.

"Maybe people think I'm crazy, but to me crazy is spending half your time in front of a television set dreaming about what you might have done.

"I've seen things they can only imagine, including a crazy old dolphin who kept ramming the side of the boat till I beat him off with an oar, and a 20-foot great white shark that shadowed me for days.

"All I had to eat during the blur of my last two weeks at sea was one flying fish.

"Finally, I was too weak to row effectively so I made the hardest decision of my life and threw the switch on my emergency radio beacon."

Andrew sets off in November. If he completes his trip, he will have accomplished the second of a three leg quest to circumnavigate the world by rowing the three major oceans.