Will Graham Walters Become the Oldest Man to Row an Ocean Solo?

Graham Walters (UK) is rowing the Atlantic for the fifth time. He set out from Pasito Blanco, Gran Canaria on January 27 and is rowing solo from east to west to Antigua. At 72 years, 6 months and 8 days old at the start of his adventure, he has the chance to become the oldest person to row an ocean solo. The current record holder is Russian ubermensch Fedor Konyukhov, now 68.

A grey but ripped Graham Walter completes his 2007 Atlantic crossing. Photo: Puffin Expedition


Walters previously rowed the Atlantic in 1997, 2001, 2003-4 and 2007. One way or the other, this attempt, he says, will be his last voyage, both for him and his boat, the George Geary. Named after his grandfather, an England cricketer, he built the boat in his front garden 22 years ago, for the first-ever Atlantic Rowing Challenge in 1997. Walters took part with teammate Keith Mason.

The George Geary. Photo: Graham Walters


By 10 days ago, he had traveled around 1,561km. The sea had started to ease slightly but the waves still were coming over the back of the boat at heights of three to four metres. “I wish I’d brought waterproof shorts,” he says.

In addition to the choppy sea, his water maker stopped working last week. After two days of attempted repairs, it still only worked intermittently. He has said that he can convert it to a hand-driven water maker, as long as he doesn’t wash his clothes for the rest of the journey. Sometimes it’s an advantage to travel solo.

This isn’t his first attempt to become the oldest person to cross the Atlantic single-handed. He tried in 2017 but he had to be rescued after 48 hours. Almost immediately after starting, he hit a storm and 60kph winds. He put out the sea anchor and began pumping out his boat, but things quickly went from bad to worse. The electric pump stopped working, the anchor snapped and within 10 minutes, the boat had capsized.

The 2017 rescue. Photo: YouTube