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Rowing Marine awaits weather window for Atlantic solo challenge

The Rowing Marine 11-12-18 (Photo John ) Lee Spencer out in Bay trials

Lee Spencer, The Rowing Marine, has postponed this weekend’s planned departure from Gibraltar for the start of his unsupported attempt to row solo across the Atlantic Ocean.

Mr Spencer had to set back the date due to a weather system coming in the Atlantic. At present, he is monitoring the weather closely and aims to leave sometime next week.

“The weather system coming in from the Atlantic will drive a lot of southerly winds and if that happens it will be impossible for me to get anywhere,” Mr Spencer said.

Mr Spencer needs a weather window of three days to get away from land.

“It’s the combination of bad weather and hard things like rocks,” he laughs.

“That’s it in a nutshell.”

If the weather does not provide a window next week, Mr Spencer is considering the possibility of starting his voyage from Portugal, which would remove the difficult transit through the Strait of Gibraltar.

But this is an option he would rather avoid.

“I want to leave from Gibraltar ultimately. I have invested so much effort and the people of Gibraltar have invested in me as well,” he said.

“The decision I took to actually start my journey from Gibraltar, and that was important for me to start from here, row as far as I can before pulling the boat out and driving to the start line.”

“That decision was a really tough one to make and I wasn’t happy with it but there was no choice.”

“If I do not get the weather and the right conditions in the Strait of Gibraltar I might as well attempt rowing to the moon.”

The boat cannot be towed out through the strait as it would be too dangerous and it is likely that the it could be damaged.

In assessing his options, Mr Spencer is taking advice from Guinness Record holder Leven Brown.

“He is the most experienced rower on the planet he has over 30,000 ocean rowing miles, he has had seven ocean rowing Guinness World Records – I think he still holds four,” he said.

“So there is not anyone on the planet who knows the intricacies of ocean rowing it is very very different to sailing.”

“He advised me not to go, in fact his words were ‘I wouldn’t go’ and if Leven Brown said he wouldn’t go I would be an absolute fool to attempt it,” he added.

Mr Spencer is also aware that it is not just his life he risks but also the lives of anyone who would have to help rescue him and he believes that would be totally irresponsible.

The setback, although out of his hands, has left Mr Spencer feeling “gutted” and with notions that he has let people down.

Even though he knows deep down he has not and that all his supporters want him to have a safe crossing and return safely, he still feels bad for the situation.

MAIN PHOTO: Johnny Bugeja