Wednesday, April 7, 1999 Published at 15:40 GMT 16:40 UK


Rower in 'last big adventure'

Mr Halsey hopes to row non-stop across the Pacific in eight months

A British man who suffers from epilepsy is planning the "last big adventure of the millennium" by rowing single-handedly across the Pacific Ocean.

Andrew Halsey: "After a seizure, it is an hour or two before I know who I am"

Andrew Halsey, 41, from London, is planning to complete the epic voyage in eight months.

Mr Halsey, a former bricklayer, will start in mid-May from San Diego in California and aims to arrive in Sydney, Australia, in time to celebrate the millennium.

The crossing is non-stop, which means he will not pause for supplies. A similar attempt claimed the life of British rower Peter Bird in 1996.

[ image: The boat has solar panels so it can be tracked by satellite]
The boat has solar panels so it can be tracked by satellite

The trip will be Mr Halsey's second major ocean row.

In 1997, he successfully completed a solo Atlantic crossing from Santa Cruz in Tenerife to St Lucia in the West Indies.

He will travel in a British-designed boat, the Brittany Rose, which has solar panels so it can be tracked by satellite, as well as mobile communication links.

Harnessed to the boat

Launching his bid at the Royal Geographical Society in London, Mr Halsey said it was a "great challenge", which gave him "goosebumps just thinking about it".

He said he was not worried about his epilepsy.

[ image: Mr Halsey hopes to see this before the millennium]
Mr Halsey hopes to see this before the millennium

"I have what are commonly known as grand mal epilepsy seizures, which are fairly violent and I will be spending eight months on my own in the boat," he said.

"But I am not worried because I am so much more relaxed when I am rowing and I do not seem to have so many seizures.

"I will keep myself harnessed to the boat and the boat is self-righting. I am more at risk on land than I am at sea," he said.

'Last big adventure'

Jo Lawrence King, spokeswoman for the National Epilepsy Society, said Mr Halsey was "very clear" about the risks and precautions to take, and society members "applaud him".

Kenneth Crutchlow, executive director of the Ocean Rowing Society, compared the trip to the Breitling round-the-world balloon crossing.

"They said that it was the last big adventure of the century, but we know that it was not.

"This will be the last big adventure, finishing at the beginning of the millennium," he said.

    Endurance rowing history:

  • The first ever non-stop ocean row was in 1896 when George Harboe, a Norwegian, completed an Atlantic trip with partner Gabriel Samuelson.
  • In the last 100 years there have been 94 ocean-rowing attempts, of which only 47 have been successful.
  • Five British rowers and a Russian rower have disappeared, presumed dead, on similar challenges at sea since 1966.
  • The last death was of British rower Peter Bird, 49, who was lost at sea on his fourth attempt to row single-handedly across the Pacific in 1996.
  • Following the death of Mr Bird, the Ocean Rowing Society was set up in order to provide more support for people embarking upon such challenges.
  • Three women have attempted non-stop ocean-rowing trips, but none have so far been successful.
  • Ocean-rowing attempts have become easier in recent years, due to freeze-dried food, the ability to purify water at sea and new boat-building techniques.