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


Chalk fears elements may defeat row bid

By Liza Kappelle

08 April 2003 

BRITISH adventurer Simon Chalk fears the elements may defeat his bid to row across the Indian Ocean from Western Australia to Reunion Island.

The 30-year-old from Devon has described his worst day yet in the series of "horror stories" he emails to his website diary.
"I'm on a sea anchor now and I've had a pretty appalling day, probably the worst since I've been out here," Chalk wrote.

"The wind is forcing me north, which is something I've been battling with all the time, and if this keeps up I'm going to struggle to make Reunion Island."

The engineer left Kalbarri, 592km north of Perth, on February 27 to try to break the unofficial 64-day record row to Reunion set by Sweden's Anders Svedlund in 1971.

But Chalk's voyage has been a series of battles against the elements which have frustrated his bid to row forwards, fast.

"It's like there's 

a hand in Australia holding me back," he said. By yesterday Chalk had rowed 2042 km but was still 1839 km from Kalbarri because of early poor weather.

And his 7.5 metre boat, the True Spirit, was without power for steering and navigation.

It was also surrounded by massive seas which he believed were whipped up by Tropical Cyclone Inigo - now heading for the WA coast.

"Right now I've got mountainous seas, absolutely huge," he said.

Chalk said he would wait at sea anchor for conditions to improve but believed what happened next was out of his control.

Meanwhile, two more Britons are in WA, preparing to follow Chalk to Reunion.

Mike Noel-Smith, 45, of Hereford, and Rob Abernethy, 30, of London, are in Carnarvon, 900 km north of Perth, from where they will launch their record bid as a pair at the end of the month - weather permitting.

Last May, Chalk and a partner, Bill Greaves, 41, of Torquay, made an attempt as a pair to follow Svedlund's route but their boat hit a whale and sank after a few days, forcing their rescue.