Lecomte Aborts Pacific Swim

Ben Lecomte has abandoned his attempt to swim across the Pacific Ocean from Japan to California. During the last two weeks, stormy weather and repeated kit failures had beset Lecomte and his support team. He reluctantly concluded that it would be unsafe to continue.

Lecomte clocks out after swimming 2,822km in a total 610 hours. He had completed just over 30 percent of the 9,260km required to reach San Francisco. Along the way, he encountered whales, sharks, swordfish and a lot of plastic waste.

Lecomte had a couple of close encounters with sharks, but never felt threatened. Photo: Ben Lecomte

The world record attempt required that Lecomte track all his progress via GPS, to ensure that he was restarting the swim from exactly the same position each day. In between eight-hour shifts in the water, Lecomte rested on his support boat, Seeker. He had been making good progress since setting out in June, when he was able to get in the water. But squalls and storms routinely forced him to pause for days at a time. Meanwhile, his support the team dealt with repeated mechanical failures. First, Seeker‘s engine failed; the following week, the support dinghy’s engine died. Finally, in late November, irreparable damage to Seeker’s mainsail proved the final straw. Without their mainsail, the crew have been forced to use a small trysail. But Seeker carries only 15 days of fuel, not nearly enough to return the expedition to the nearest mainland if the trysail also became damaged. After a discussion with the crew, Lecomte decided to call off the swim and sail for Hawaii.

Lecomte had prepared for the swim for six years and has not yet announced whether he will try again.

In early October, Lecomte celebrated swimming 1,000 nautical miles. Photo: Ben Lecomte

Related stories:

Benoit Lecomte Aims to Swim the Pacific

Lecomte Hits 1,000Km

Martin Walsh is a freelance writer and wildlife photographer based in Da Lat, Vietnam. A history graduate from the University of Nottingham, Martin's career arc is something of a smörgåsbord. A largely unsuccessful basketball coach in Zimbabwe and the Indian Himalaya, a reluctant business lobbyist in London, and an interior design project manager in Saigon. He has been fortunate enough to see some of the world. Highlights include tracking tigers on foot in Nepal, white-water rafting the Nile, bumbling his way from London to Istanbul on a bicycle, feeding wild hyenas with his face in Ethiopia, and accidentally interviewing Hezbollah in Lebanon. His areas of expertise include adventure travel, hiking, wildlife, and half-forgotten early 2000s indie-rock bands.

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