On this day in history : 27th July 1969 – English rower Tom McClean arrives off the Irish coast to become the first man to row solo across the Atlantic Ocean from west to east….

Tom McClean during sea trials, 1985 – Image credit : Intagen – own work CC BY-SA 3.0

McClean had served in the Parachute Regiment and then nine years in the SAS…. On his retirement from military life he became well-known for various feats as an adventurer…. And then following Chay Blyth and John Ridgway’s rowing venture across the Atlantic in 1966, McClean announced that he too was going to do this – but alone….

Three years later, in a 2,000 mile journey from Newfoundland to Ireland that took 71 days, he encountered violent storms, gigantic waves and freezing conditions…. He had no sailing experience or knowledge of sea conditions; however, through his perseverance, he became the first man in history to row across the Atlantic from west to east, all on his own….

In 1982 McClean sailed the Atlantic in a boat measuring just 9ft 9in – the smallest sailing vessel to ever cross transatlantic…. However, only three weeks later his record was broken by a boat measuring 9ft 1in…. McClean’s response was to cut 2ft off his own boat using a chainsaw – and do it all again…. Despite losing his mast on the return journey he managed to win his record back…. Five years later he rowed the Atlantic again, in just 54 days – a record he still holds today…. In 1990 he made year another crossing, this time in a bottle shaped boat…. At the moment he is working on his latest project ~ ‘Moby Prince of Whales’….a whale shaped boat which is being prepared for a future Atlantic crossing….

‘Giltspur’ – Tom McClean’s record breaking boat – Image credit : Intagen – own work CC BY-SA 3.0

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