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Graham Walters becomes oldest man to row across the Atlantic

On Wednesday, 72-year-old veteran endurance rower, Graham Walter cruised into the record books not one, but three times.

By Mike

After completing a solo row from Gran Canaria to Antigua, he is now officially oldest person to row across the Atlantic, the oldest person to row across any ocean and the oldest person to cross the same ocean multiple times, even though he was forced to be towed into Nelson’s Dock Yard after strong winds blew him past the island.

Speaking about his final approach to Antigua, he said: “The problem was with the wind. It was taking me past Antigua. As I was rowing, I knew that I wouldn’t have made the island so it was necessary to get a little bit of help.”

After 94 days at sea, Graham has arrived in Antigua and into a different world in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“I had never heard of coronavirus before I left, but I spoke to my wife every week, and slowly and slowly it got more and more serious,” he said.

“People are more at risk at my age, and I’ve got asbestos on my lungs, so when I was rowing I thought to myself, ‘this is the safest place to be, on the Atlantic’.”

Despite Graham’s extreme isolation for the best part of 3-months, he will have to adhear to the island’s strict self-isolation regulations and also remain in Antigua until travel restrictions are lifted.

Walters is no stranger to the ocean; the row was his fifth Atlantic crossing and his third in the wooden vessel he crafted himself two decades ago.

“This trip really is about the boat which I built 22 years ago in the front garden of my house from plywood. That boat has been with me three times across the Atlantic before this, so it’s getting old – like me. I thought, why not be the oldest person to row the Atlantic with an old boat.”

Such extreme solitude may not be for everyone but Graham’s highlights came in the form of daily doses of Vitamin D and food!

“Food is a big part of it. The next meal is always something you look forward to. It goes around in your head.”

In preparation for this record-breaking row, Graham made a daily trip to the gym and used the vast experience from other crossings to help him finish in the best shape.

“In previous rows I found two hours on, two hours off, really hard. So I did that in the daytime but just two hours at night because the darkness helps you sleep,” Graham said.

“I’m feeling good now; I thought I would feel much worse when I finally finished.”

Graham’s epic row was not only record-breaking, but also as part of a fundraising effort for Help the Heros.

“Food is a big part of it. The next meal is always something you look forward to. It goes around in your head.”