Epileptic rower to make third record bid

By Charlotte McCathieAN epileptic rower is planning to cross the world's largest ocean single-handedly - despite two previous failed attempts.Andrew Halsey, 47, who suffers from two or three epileptic seizures a week, will set off again in April 2006 to try to be the first disabled rower to cross the Pacific.

By Charlotte McCathie

AN epileptic rower is planning to cross the world's largest ocean single-handedly - despite two previous failed attempts.

Andrew Halsey, 47, who suffers from two or three epileptic seizures a week, will set off again in April 2006 to try to be the first disabled rower to cross the Pacific.

But the Clacton-born rower's boat is thousands of miles away after he was forced to abandon it on a previous unsuccessful effort and he needs to raise £4,500 to get it back for his Pacific crossing attempt.

Mr Halsey used the Brittany Rose on his two previous Pacific expeditions and on his sole successful voyage across the Atlantic in 1997.

It was thought to be forever lost at sea after Mr Halsey was forced to abandon the boat when his last effort ended in April 2003 - but U.S. forces have found it washed up on one of the secluded Marshall Islands, which are just north of the Equator.

Most Read

The father-of-one, who named the boat after his daughter, said: “I need to raise £4,500 to get it back to the UK and after that it should be quite straightforward as the main damage is to the nose. I could just get another one built, but we have such a history together.”

But Mr Halsey is struggling to raise the money after his previous sponsor, The Ocean Society, withdrew its support, claiming he lost £10,000-worth of electrical equipment on his last attempt at the record, which he has denied.

Mr Halsey, who fundraises for epilepsy charities, also disregarded fears for his health, claiming his voyages benefited his well-being.

“I don't owe anybody money. People have also criticised me for the worry I've caused my family, but there's no need,” he said.

“When I'm out at sea I actually have less seizures than I do on land and being out there makes my mind so much more active.

“I always have a positive attitude towards life and I won't let my epilepsy hold me back. Even if I had a leg missing I'd still go out there - it's in my blood.”

His mother Barbara said: “I worry terribly when he's out there, but I can't resent him for following his dream.

”We don't see the last attempt as a failure because he survived and he showed such bravery, but he does so he'll just keep trying. I know he will do it this time.”

Mr Halsey's first attempt to sail the Pacific finished in disaster in 1999 after 72 days at sea.

He ended exactly the same distance from Australia as when he set off, despite rowing 2,300 miles, earning a place in the record books for covering the least distance in the most time at sea rowing in a boat.

During his last effort, he capsized 18 times in 36 hours, survived an encounter with a killer whale, an electrical fire, a gale force storm, and a 50ft wave.

Mr Halsey finished 7,000 miles from his goal, in shark-infested waters, with no phone, food or supplies, and trapped under a capsized boat for four hours.

An international distress call was launched and he was eventually saved by Chinese fishermen off the remote Galapagos Islands.

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter