Group pulls support for disabled rower

By James HoreTHE group which backed disabled rower Andrew Halsey's failed attempt to cross the Pacific has declared it will not support any more of his record bids on the ocean.

By James Hore

THE group which backed disabled rower Andrew Halsey's failed attempt to cross the Pacific has declared it will not support any more of his record bids on the ocean.

The Ocean Rowing Society made the announcement after Mr Halsey had been picked up by a Panamanian fishing boat after 128 days at sea following a severe storm.

But last night Mr Halsey's sister, Amanda, criticised the announcement and declared her brother would not give up on his dream.

Mr Halsey, who suffers from epilepsy, was hoping to arrive in Australia, but his boat, the Brittany Rose, became caught up in ocean currents and winds that made any progress almost impossible.

Earlier in his voyage the rower, who grew up in Clacton, entered the record books for covering the least distance in the most time at sea in a rowing boat. He was still more than 7,000 miles from Brisbane when he was rescued.

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U.S. Coastguards said Mr Halsey had been transferred onto its cutter, the U.S. Munro, and would be on-board for about four days until it docked in Guatemala.

Lieutenant Junior Tim Dealy, of the U.S. Coastguard, said: “The medical staff on board said he is in a good condition and will stay on board until the cutter goes into port in Puertro Quetzal.”

Kenneth Crutchlow, director of the Ocean Rowing Society, thanked the U.S. Coastguard for collecting the former bricklayer, but said he was “well aware that the coastguard has for the second time used considerable assets to rescue Mr Halsey”.

A statement on its website said: “I can confirm that we at the Ocean Rowing Society will not support any further attempts by Mr Halsey in his quest to row the Pacific.”

Mr Crutchlow added: “If he comes knocking on our door, we will offer him a cup of tea and look forward to hearing his stories - but we won't be backing another attempt, even with a million dollars sponsorship.”

He hoped Mr Halsey would be able to use his achievement and perhaps go on to represent the National Society for Epilepsy in some way.

Amanda Halsey, who runs the Castle pub, High Street, Colchester, said plans were already under way for her brother's next record attempt and added he would be holding a press conference in the next few days.

“The coastguard said they had managed to pick up most of the equipment from the Brittany Rose,” she said. “I don't see it as a failure - the conditions were beyond his own control.

“Andrew has a wonderful life on land and he is very happy-go-lucky and he has a big family which is very close.”

She added it was too early to say exactly when another record attempt will take place, but said Mr Halsey would have backing from rowers who had successfully crossed the Pacific.

james.hore@eadt.co.uk

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