Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Welcome Back, Dad

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Welcome Back, Dad

Article excerpt


A BRITISH adventurer today made history in dramatic style as he was forced to swim the final 200 metres to dry land after an epic 8,500-mile unaided row across the Pacific.

Jubilant Jim Shekhdar's battered boat was twice upended by heavy surf as he approached a beach in Australia.

After successfully climbing back on board, only to be tossed into the water again, the 54-year-old decided to abandon it and head for shore where his family awaited an emotional reunion.

But daughters Sarah and Anna, who hadn't seen their father for 274 days, were unable to contain their joy and waded in to lend a helping hand.

Once on the beach, the exhausted oarsman appeared close to tears as he was reunited with his wife Jane before being handed a cold beer.

His voyage - the first time that anyone has rowed solo across the Pacific without having food and drinks supplies replenished - saw him lose nearly six stone in weight. He survived encounters with sharks and ferocious weather conditions.

Mr Shekhdar, from Northwood, west London, set off from Peru in June last year.

He finally reached North Stradbroke Island, near Brisbane, at 7.42am UK time, 4.42pm local time.

He told a waiting crowd that the Queensland coastline looked "awesome" after so long at sea. He added: "My first priority is to have a hearty meal of ice-cream and steak and chips - in that order!"

Following a brief medical check, the civil engineer and London University graduate was declared to be in "good health and fine spirits".

Victory was achieved against the odds. As well as surviving six attacks by the same "large" shark on the 23ft boat, ironically called Le Shark, he endured high winds which almost caused him to capsize on numerous occasions.

The journey had got off to a bad start when Mr Shekhdar was denied permission to set off from Chile and ordered to leave the country. …

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