Pensioner Attempts to Become World’s Oldest Solo Atlantic Rower in Aid of Help for Heroes
Graham Walters, 72, from Leicestershire has set off from Gran Canaria to begin his bid to secure the Guinness Word Record as the oldest person to row solo across the Atlantic. The record is currently held by Gerard Marie of France who completed the solo challenge in 2015 at the age of 66 years and 323 days. Graham is using his adventure to raise awareness and vital funds for the Help of War Heroes.
For Graham, this will be his 5th Atlantic crossing, but he is keen to do one more to secure this World Record before he hangs up his oars. His progress is being monitored by the Ocean Rowing Society as official adjudicators for Guinness World Records. His progress can be tracked here: https://my.yb.tl/Yblogpuffin
Graham expects to take approximately 90 days to complete the journey of more than 3,000 miles to Antigua. According to Graham’s wife, Jean, “He’s had a rocky start, with the lights going, a leak in one of the compartments and the boat bucking like a bronco. Thankfully the lights and electrics have now been repaired, the leak is containable and he should get used to the motion soon. “
World’s oldest Solo Atlantic Rower: The Boat:
Graham is tackling the challenge in his Atlantic row boat which, being a carpenter by trade, he built 22 years ago in his front garden for the first ever Atlantic rowing race which was organised by Chay Blyth in 1997.
The boat is called the George Geary after Graham’s grandfather who was a first-class cricketer and played for Leicestershire and England. Geary took part in several Ashes tests, despite having his cricketing career temporarily interrupted by the First World War, during which he joined the Air Force and was injured by an aeroplane propeller.
Jean, 62, who married Graham at a small ceremony on 12th December last year, adds, “Graham has always been an adventurer, so he’s had it in his mind for a while now to do one ‘final journey’. To complete the challenge and take the record will be a massive personal achievement for him.”
David Martin, Head of Supporter Fundraising at Help for Heroes, concludes, “Few of us would attempt such a challenge in the first flush of youth – let alone in our seventies. Graham is clearly a remarkable and determined man.
As well as being George’s final row of this type, this will also be the George Geary’s final crossing. The George Geary will stay in Antigua, hopefully in the museum in English Harbour there.
FACTS ABOUT GRAHAM’S ‘FINAL JOURNEY’ CHALLENGE:
- Graham set off on Saturday 25th January
- This will be Graham’s 3rd solo crossing; he’s also done two two-man crossings
- The row is totally solo and unsupported – Graham does not expect to see another human until he reaches Antigua
- All his supplies are therefore on the boat, including:
- Boil in the bag meals which he will heat using a gimbal cooker which sways with the boat – George hopes to supplement these meals by fishing for tuna en route
- Several click lighters for the cooker
- A huge stash of chocolate and energy bars
- A rubber dinghy so George can clean barnacles off the bottom of the boat – and which also serves to collect rainwater
- A watermaker*
- Solar panels to power the electrics
- 2 pillows wrapped in waterproofing and 2 sleeping bags
- A satellite phone, GoPro camera for photos and videos, ACR ResQLink personal locator beacon
- iPod and books
- Sudocrem – Graham’s biggest dread is what salt constantly on your skin does to your body, hence the need for lots of cream to protect him
- While not doing specific training for the challenge, he is fit for the task as he goes to the gym every day and he also has recently done another challenge, rowing from the source of the Thames to the sea in a series of legs
*News/Latest report from the world’s oldest Solo Atlantic Rower: Graham’s problems with the water maker continue, he has attached the manual handle but cannot get any water through as air is getting in the system somewhere. His plan is now to try again to sort out the problem with the motor.
The leak in the water maker compartment is getting worse whilst all the other leaks are the same.
This is a guest post: Responsible person and contact: Susan Perolls at Help for Heroes. Help for Heroes supports those with injuries and illnesses attributable to their service in the British Armed Forces.