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Last Updated: Thursday, 31 July, 2003, 12:42 GMT 13:42 UK
New sea challenge for rower
Jim Shekhdar
Civil engineer Jim Shekhdar aims to start his challenge in September

A Briton who became the first person to row single-handedly across the Pacific is starting a new journey which he admits is his most challenging to date.

Jim Shekhdar, 57, survived sharks attacks on his vessel and a tanker that almost sank him in its wake on his 274-day voyage from Peru to Australia, which he completed in 2001.

He entered the record books as the only Pacific Ocean crossing in a rowing boat without assistance, and also the quickest.

Now Mr Shekhdar is aiming to make another record by travelling more than 9,000 miles from New Zealand to Cape Town.

Le Shark
Mr Shekhdar's boat Le Shark capsizes at the end of his Pacific challenge

Mr Shekhdar, of Northwood, Middlesex, told BBC News Online he expected to hang up his oars after his last adventure.

"I did the last one because I thought I was old enough not to do anymore and it was big enough, but then I discovered something more difficult," he said.

This time his biggest dangers will be the extreme cold, with temperatures dropping to -35C, and the rough seas of the southern ocean around Cape Horn, waters Mr Shekhdar readily admits "most sailors fear to tread".

The only other person to attempt a similar feat was France's Joseph Le Guen's. He tried to cross the Pacific going west to east, but gave up due to gangrene developing in his injured foot.

I learn everytime I go out there, and I talk to other people, that is the big difference between success and failure
Jim Shekhdar
Undeterred Mr Shekhdar is placing his faith in his specially-designed boat, which has wet and dry cabins and can withstand 100ft waves.

"I learn everytime I go out there, and I talk to other people, that is the big difference between success and failure," he says

"You can usually design out the risk but obviously the unexpected you have to handle when it comes."

His main preparations have included eating lots of fatty foods to "bulk up" for the expected six-month journey - he lost 60 pounds during his 2001 journey.

New boat
The new boat which has dry and wet cabins

Asked what his wife, Jane and daughters Sarah, 22, and Anna, 24, felt about his latest expedition, he said: "I think they're resigned to it. I believe they're not as worried about this one as the last one."

Mr Shekhdar, who has now had the hip operation he cancelled before the start of his Pacific challenge, hopes to set off from Bluff harbour, in New Zealand on 19 or 20 September.

He plans to land in Cape Town, South Africa, on 30 April 2004 although his time scale is a guess because it is an unprecedented feat.

Mr Shekhdar's history of ocean rowing goes back to 1997 when he crossed the Atlantic with fellow adventurer David Jackson, before that he had never rowed before.

He is heading for New Zealand on 6 September to add the finishing touches to his boat.

Map




SEE ALSO:
Lone Briton conquers Pacific
30 Mar 01  |  Asia-Pacific
In pictures: Pacific crossing
30 Mar 01  |  Asia-Pacific


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