Victorian policeman Tim Spiteri and his crew of fellow rowers have broken two world records for the fastest-ever crossing of the Indian Ocean in a rowing boat. They also achieved the longest rowing record having arrived in the Seychelles at 14:58 on August 7.
The rowers set out from Geraldton, on June 11 and have covered almost 6,800 kms to the Seychelles in just 57 days. The crew aboard the Rossiter’s Avalon, an Ocean Row Events vessel, completed the longest distance ever rowed by a team, as well as claiming the first ever oar-powered voyage from Geraldton to the Seychelles.
Tim’s motivation to embark on such an audacious voyage was to raise funds for multiple sclerosis, inspired by his mother Rhonda who has been living with MS for the last 30 years. Tim’s target is $250,000 and he has raised over $30,000.
“It’s been an incredible journey both physically and mentally and I’m so proud of what we’ve achieved despite the setbacks and adverse conditions," Tim said.
"The trials and challenges we faced on the Indian Ocean pale into insignificance compared with what people with multiple sclerosis go through."
Since Tim and his crew set off on this incredible ocean voyage they have battled some difficult challenges including changes to their original destination of Durban, South Africa due to extreme weather conditions. Subsequent plans were made for the voyage to conclude at Mombasa, Kenya, however, the crew were advised to divert their course to the Seychelles aboard mounting concerns of piracy attacks.
To compound these adversities, their boat was also hit by a 15 metre whale, however, thankfully no one was hurt and there was no damage to the Avalon. And a few weeks ago, one of their crew members, Shane Usher, was rescued by a cargo ship after receiving severe hot water burns. He is now safely back in Melbourne and his burns are healing well.
The boat’s automatic steering system also recently broke down, which meant Constable Spiteri and Captain Leven Brown, the two with the required expertise, were forced to steer manually for the rest of the journey. With one man down and two on steering, it left the four remaining crew members to rotate on the oars two at a time for two hours per shift and only 80 minutes rest in between.