British senior becomes oldest solo Atlantic rower

St. John's (Antigua and Barbuda) (AFP) –


A 72-year-old British man has claimed a double world record after becoming the oldest person to row solo across the Atlantic Ocean.

Graham Walters, from Leicester, England, arrived in Antigua on Wednesday, three months after departing from Gran Canaria island in Spain in a plywood boat he built in his front yard.

Walters is also the oldest person to row across an ocean more than once. The gruelling 3,000-mile (5,000 km) challenge was his fifth Atlantic crossing -- and his last, he says.

"This trip really is about the boat which I built 22 years ago. 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?'" he said.

Escorted in by local Coast Guard boats to the sound of blaring horns in honor of his achievement, Walters stumbled as he took his first shaky steps on land after more than 90 days at sea.

And despite being keen to be reunited with wife Jean, whom he had married just a month before his departure, Walters will have to remain in Antigua until travel restrictions are lifted. All commercial flights in and out of the Caribbean island have been suspended because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Walters visited a gym daily to get fit for the journey. He rowed a punishing two hours on, two hours off each day.

After three months of surviving on boil-in-the-bag meals –- plus a stash of chocolate he took with him as treats –- Walters said he couldn’t wait to tuck into an English staple, roast beef and Yorkshire pudding, with a glass of red wine.

Walters’ feat has raised more than $3,000 for Help for Heroes, which assists British servicemen and women wounded in the line of duty.