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Rower to go for ocean record alone

A Devon rower who was to be part of a joint bid to cross the Indian Ocean in a record-breaking time is to go it alone.
The trip will take him from Kalbarri, Western Australia to Reunion Island, off the coast of Madagascar.
February, 2003
A Devon rower is preparing to embark on an expedition that he hopes will take him across the Indian Ocean in record-breaking time. 

Simon Chalk, 30, from Newton Abbot was to row the route with Welshman Robert Munslow. 

But the pair have now decided to abandon the joint attempt and Mr Chalk is to make the 3,000 mile journey single-handed. 

He first attempted the challenge last May but had to be rescued off the west coast of Australia when the boat capsized. 

Simon Chalk is making a second attempt on the Indian Ocean crossing 
Mr Chalk's new boat has been designed to right itself should it capsize. 


Simon Chalk with his former 
partner Rob Munslow 


"I know that everyone is going to assume that Robert and I have had a row but that is just not the case," said Mr Chalk, speaking to BBC Online from Kalbarri in western Australia. 

"It was a mutual decision for the joint attempt not to proceed, we haven't fallen out, it just wasn't going to work." 

The Indian Ocean has been rowed single-handed once before, in 1971. 

"I will be aiming to do it in 64 days but I will have food on board for 100 days," said Mr Chalk.

Determination to finish


Simon Chalk is making a second attempt on the Indian Ocean crossing

If he makes it he will be the youngest rower and the first Britain to achieve the feat. 

Simon acknowledges that tackling the route from Kalbarri to Reunion Island, off the coast of Madagascar, single-handed is a very different proposition. 

"It is a completely different mental preparation and solitude could become an issue," he said. 

And now, instead of sharing the effort, he will be rowing alone for up to 18 hours a day. 

"But it has not crossed my mind not to do it, too much work and too much effort has gone into it, I have wanted to do it for two years." 

Mr Chalk aims to start his solo crossing on 28 February. 

From point to point it's 3,200 miles but his route is nearer 3,800 miles. 

At midpoint he will be 1,500 miles from land and four days from rescue. 

Simon will have a 24-hour contact number in the UK and enough food to last 100 days. 

The physical and mental demands are immense but so is his determination. 

'There are two ways off this boat,' said Simon, whose attempt last year ended in failure.

'One is at Reunion Island, and the other isn't. I know I'm going to do it.' 

Simon's previous attempt in May 2002 ended after just three days when the boat was flipped over by a freak wave more than 60 miles off the west Australian coast. 

He and his partner Bill Greaves, 41, clung to the hull for 15 hours before being rescued. 

But rather than deter him, that experience has spurred him on to try again.


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