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The BBC's Clive Myrie
reports on the historic voyage
 real 56k

Jim Shekhdar
"I was attacked by sharks"
 real 56k

The BBC's Fergus Nicoll
"A final wrenching twist just 30 metres from the shore"
 real 56k

Phil Mercer reports
"His worst moment was a close encounter with a tanker"
 real 28k

Friday, 30 March, 2001, 13:35 GMT 14:35 UK
Lone Briton conquers Pacific
jim
Splashdown: Family and reporters greet the oarsman
After 274 days at sea, a Briton who became the first person to row the Pacific unassisted was forced to swim the last 30 metres when his boat capsized.

shark
Surf break: Le Shark tumbles to shore with Mr Shekhdar in tow
But the small disappointment was surpassed by the feeling of triumph as Jim Shekhdar waded ashore in Australia.

Mr Shekhdar, 54, from Leamington Spa, has travelled more than 8,000 miles since leaving Peru on 29 June last year.

Click here to see map of journey

After surviving encounters with sharks that tried to ram his vessel and a tanker that almost sank him in its wake, his boat, Le Shark, flipped over in the surf.


I want a beer and a barbecue

Jim Shekhdar

But as the boat righted itself, he grabbed bold of a rope attached to its stern and he was pulled by the tide towards the beach at North Stradbroke island, off the eastern Australian port of Brisbane.

About 30 metres from it, he let go of the rope and swam into the arms of his wife, Jane.

jim
Drenched Jim Shekhdar: Where's the barbie?
"That boat is determined to get here before me," said the drenched adventurer as he was surrounded by about 100 cheering spectators.

"Now I want a beer and a barbecue."

In the past few days, his self-designed 10-metre boat has been battered by high winds and rough seas.

But his difficulties began when he found he had forgotten his tin-opener. Later, he ran out of cooking gas.

Pacific challenge
Left Peru: 29 June 2000
Distance: Approx 8,000 miles
Boat: Le Shark - steel keel, self-righting, fitted with wind generator
Arrived in Australia: 30 March 2001
By the end of the journey, his supplies of food had almost run out and he had lost almost six stones in weight.

Mr Shekhdar planned to set out from Chile last year, but was denied permission and ordered to leave the country.

His boat was then towed north to Peru from where he started his adventure.

Near-miss

He said that although he had 10 encounters with sharks, the near-miss with a tanker was the most frightening incident.

"I was woken early in the morning by the sound of the engine and when I looked out of the hatch, it apeared to be 50 metres away, coming straight for me.

"When I next looked it was 10 metres away, passing me.

"I don't think he would have even felt the bump. I couldn't sleep for a week after that."

"It was something that affected me more than anything else."

Jim Shekhdar
Age: 54:
Height: 6ft 2in
Job: Engineer/management consultant
Lives: Leamington Spa
Family: Wife Jane and daughters Sarah, 19, and Anna, 21
Rowed Atlantic (3,013 miles) in 1997 with David Jackson
Mr Shekhdar, who cancelled an NHS hip replacement operation weeks before he left Britain, rowed about 10 miles each day.

Throughout the voyage he kept in contact with his family and friends and the Ocean Rowing Society via phone, faxes and e-mail, and he was continually monitored using a tracking beacon.

It was a pleasant relief to be in human company again, he said.

"The first couple of months at sea were really good as it was nice to have some solitude. But eventually it gets a bit lonely out there."

The challenge was not his first taste of ocean voyaging - he rowed the Atlantic with fellow adventurer David Jackson in 1997.

In addition to being the only Pacific Ocean crossing in a rowing boat without assistance, Mr Shekhdar can also claim to be the quickest, finishing 20 days faster than an assisted row by Englishman Peter Bird in 1983.

Britain's record-breaking rower now plans to celebrate for a week and says he is now planning his next adventure.

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See also:

30 Mar 01 | Asia-Pacific
In pictures: Pacific crossing
07 Apr 00 | Asia-Pacific
Starving rower rescued in Pacific
03 Dec 99 | Americas
First woman rows the Atlantic
25 Sep 98 | Europe
He's swum it
23 Sep 98 | Sport
Windsurfers conquer Atlantic
07 Feb 00 | Americas
Around the world in a reed boat
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