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

 



Issue Number - 235 - dated Thursday 14 May, 2007
 
Graham beats the odds to row Atlantic Ocean
 
INTREPID ocean rower, Graham Walters, has beaten a stack of odds to row 3,000 miles across the Atlantic from La Gomera.
The 59-year-old carpenter from Thurmaston, Leicester, arrived on the tiny island of St Barts, in the Caribbean, after a gruelling 99-day crossing in the tiny, 15ft ‘doomed’ boat Puffin.

His row commemorated the deaths 40 years ago of journalists David Johnstone and John Hoare, who were lost in a hurricane aboard Puffin while trying to become the first to row the Atlantic in the 21st century.
Their boat was recovered in mid-Atlantic and Graham restored and refitted it to make the commemorative row.

It was Graham’s fourth east-west row – his second solo – across the Atlantic from the Canaries.
But his record-breaking journey almost never got under way. Along with others embarking on the journey in December, he was towed back to Port San Sebastian, La Gomera, on the orders of Capitano Antonio Padron y Santiago, the man in overall charge of Tenerife maritime affairs..   First steps on land – Graham Walters is greeted in St Barts  by astonished locals.
Photo by William Garnier
Only after he posted a €12,000 bond to cover fines incurred for “unauthorised departure” was he allowed to start his epic voyage on February 3.

The lumbering, wooden-hulled Puffin proved difficult to control and it was several weeks before Graham managed to steer a more or less straight course for Antigua, his intended destination.

But he missed the Caribbean island by miles! Exhausted from battling extreme weather conditions, he was unable to row against contrary winds and currents to find the shore.

Setting a new course for the nearby island of Barbuda, he missed that too and predictions by many that Graham had a death wish looked to be coming true.

On the phone to a friend on Saturday, he said: “I am exhausted; I tried hard to get to Barbuda and was close but I am now in between islands and do not have proper charts. I am now headed for St Marten, if I miss that I will go to Anguilla.
“My skin has broken out in a nervous rash. It happened the same way at the end of my last row. I think it is some kind of nervous rash.”

But he ended on an optimistic note: “I will be coming to Tenerife to get my money back. I expect to get about €3,000.”

Instead of finding Anguilla, however, the determined rower found the tiny island of St Bart’s, where he arrived on the beach of St Jean’s Bay in astonishingly good health, though some three stone lighter than when he started.

Kenneth F. Crutchlow, of the Ocean Rowing Society International, which monitored Graham's bid all the way across, said: “Rowing an ocean is one of the toughest challenges, mental and physical endurance at its most extreme. Graham's journey is a testament to his skill, determination and mental strength.”