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




12:00 - 17 June 2003

Transatlantic rowing heroine Debra Veal today congratulated solo oarsman Simon Chalk on his record-setting 4,000-mile crossing of the Indian Ocean. The 30-year-old property developer is being praised as a hero in his home town of Newton Abbot after becoming the first Briton to complete the feat.

The 30-year-old began his 108-day adventure in February from Western Australia and finished at Ile Raphael in Mauritian waters, near Madagascar, on Sunday.

Debra, who went to school in Newton Abbot and Teignmouth, sailed single-handed across the Atlantic last year. She said Simon would find it difficult to find his land legs again.

She said: "It is physically extremely hard to make the transition from living on a small rowing boat for months to being back on dry land. Simon will have to cope with 'land sickness', adapting to walking on a non-moving surface and the richness of fresh food after months on freeze dried slop! Emotionally, there will be excitement and relief."

Simon had to struggle against cyclones, waves as big as houses, sharks and intense heat to complete the voyage.

Simon's colleagues at his company, Woodvale, were celebrating in Newton Abbot. David Eaves, 37, a member of the team that helped prepare his 23ft self-righting boat True Spirit, said: "We are just relieved that he has done it in one piece."

The boat, which was used to row across the Atlantic two years ago, had extra equipment and supplies fitted for the Indian Ocean journey.

Newton Abbot's mayor, Allan Vizor, said: "It's a Newton Abbot first and the town's people will be really pleased. There are not many more challenges like this left, and for Simon to do what he has done is really great."

Councillor Alan Connett, leader of Newton-Abbot-based Teignbridge District Council, said: "It's a marvellous achievement. It's wonderful in this day and age that people can still find challenges which are new and which people can find exciting."

Simon is making his way to Mauritius and will then fly to Australia before returning to Devon in a fortnight.

He said: "I've still not come down and I'm on a high. It's going to take some time to sink in."

He was welcomed on Ile Raphael by his father Roy Chalk and mother Lesley Bowden.