Graham Walters attempts to become oldest person to row Atlantic solo

British pensioner, 72, becomes oldest person to row 3,000 miles solo across Atlantic… but his world record hangs in the balance after he was blown off course just FIVE MILES from the finish

  • Graham Walters, 72, of Leicestershire, attempted to break solo rowing record
  • Previous cross-Atlantic record is held by 62-year-old Gerard Marie of France
  • Set off from Gran Canaria in January towards Antigua but was blown off course
  • He opted to call for help and was towed into port instead of row for five days
  • It is not yet clear whether or not he has broken the Guinness World Record

A 72-year-old man seeking to create history by becoming the oldest person to row solo across the Atlantic has reportedly fallen just five miles short of breaking the record.

Graham Walters, of Leicestershire, was attempting to break the Guinness World Record set by 62-year-old Gerard Marie of France, while raising money for charity Help For Heroes.

Mr Walters set off on his 3,000-mile, 96-day challenge on January 25 from Gran Canaria in a row boat he built in his front garden 22 years ago.

However, nearing landfall in Antigua, Mr Walters was blown sharply off course by strong winds.

Graham Walters, 72, of Leicestershire, was attempting to break the Guinness World Record for the oldest person to row solo across the Atlantic, while raising money for Help For Heroes

Mr Walters set off on his 3,000-mile challenge on January 25 from Gran Canaria. But just five miles from the finish line in Antigua he was blown sharply off course by strong winds, forcing him to call for help

Being blown towards Barbuda instead, and suddenly facing several more days of rowing to reach Antigua, the pensioner instead opted to call for help and a tow into port.

‘It was going to take another five days of rowing,’ a spokeswoman for Help for Heroes, the charity for which he is fundraising, told The Times.

‘He just felt he did not have [it] in him.

‘I don’t know what it means for the record but in our eyes he is a complete hero.’

He completed the crossing in a row boat he built in his front garden 22 years ago, named after his grandfather George Geary

A spokeswoman for Help for Heroes confirmed: ‘It was going to take another five days of rowing. He just felt he did not have [it] in him’

This was Mr Walters’s fifth Atlantic crossing, and his third as a solo rower.

A carpenter by trade, Mr Walters named his boat after his grandfather George Geary, a Leicestershire and England cricketer.

His wife Jean, 62, said before the mission’s conclusion that her husband had been keen to record a ‘massive personal achievement’.

‘He had a rocky start, with the lights going [out], a leak in one of the compartments and the boat bucking like a bronco,’ she said.

‘Graham has always been an adventurer, so he’s had it in his mind for a while now to do one “final journey”.’ 

Mr Walters chose to raise funds for Help for Heroes after being taken by the grit and determination of wounded veterans taking part in a previous Atlantic rowing race.

David Martin, head of supporter fundraising at Help for Heroes, said: ‘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.’

Help for Heroes and Mr Walters have urged people to donate to the cause via www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Georgegearyrow.

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