Watch as ocean rower Graham Walters, 69, is rescued after abandoning his attempt to become the oldest person to cross the Atlantic singlehanded
Just 48-hours after setting out to become the oldest man to cross the Atlantic single-handed, rower Graham Walters had to be rescued.
The veteran ocean rower has previously crossed the ocean four times.
He was also the first mate on board the Toby Wallace, which was abandoned mid-Atlantic in February 2016 in rough seas following the loss of 21-year-old crew member, Mike Johnson.
Toby Wallace crew were insufficiently prepared for Atlantic crossing
69-year-old Walters set out on his solo voyage from Gran Canaria on 18 February 2017 to row the 3,000 miles to Antigua.
One day into his voyage, Walters hit a storm in his 20-foot rowing boat.
Facing winds of 35mph, he put out the sea anchor and began pumping out his boat, waiting for conditions to subside.
But hours later on the morning of 20 February 2017, the electric pump stopped working, the anchor snapped and within 10 minutes the boat had capsized.
Speaking to the Leicester Mercury, Walter said: “It capsized, but on to its side. It would not re-right itself. It was half way up and the conditions were getting worse.”
“I went out on the deck. It was very difficult to walk around because it was on a steep angle,” he explained.
After failing to right the vessel, Walters said he had no option but to abandon the boat, packing his wallet, passport, satellite phone and EPIRB into a waterproof bag and getting into his life raft.
He was 50 miles from land.
He contacted Falmouth Coastguard, which in turn, contacted the Spanish Maritime Safety Agency, Salvamento Marítimo.
A rescue helicopter arrived two hours later and airlifted him to safety.
Walters was taken to the air and sea rescue centre in Gran Canaria were he was checked over.
New long range point of contact for UK Coastguard
He flew home later the same day.
Reflecting on his short-lived record attempt, Walters said: “I have never really rowed through a storm, but I did not expect it to capsize so early in the trip.”
“It was a terrible feeling abandoning it so early in the trip. It is an anti-climax that it was a failure,” he added.
Despite losing his boat, Waters said he will be attempting the record again next year.
The ocean rower took part in the first Atlantic Rowing Race in 1997, having never rowed before.
He went on to complete three further ocean rows, two as a solo rower.
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