Ex-Sheffield man sails across the Pacific Ocean solo

John  Beeden

John Beeden

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A former Woodseats man is hoping to land himself in the record books by becoming the first to row the Pacific Ocean solo, unassisted and non-stop.

John Beeden, aged 53, who now lives in Ontario, Canada, with his wife and two daughters, is rowing from San Fransisco in North America to Cairns in Australia.

He left dry land on May 31 and hopes to complete his challenge in between 140 and 180 days.

The last rower to attempt the crossing was Peter Bird in 1983, who was rescued off the coast of Australia in a storm after 294 days at sea.

John, a former member of Hallamshire Harriers and Sheffield Athletics Club, previously rowed the Atlantic from the Canary islands to Barbados and recorded the second fastest time on record - 53 days.

Speaking from his boat, he said: “Now I am past half way I’m starting to believe I can get there. The journey so far has been tough due to the challenging conditions and makes the Atlantic seem like a walk in the park.”

“I don’t think that those of us who have felt the need to climb a mountain or row an ocean have done it, or will do it, because it’s there but because we are here.

“Without us mountains and oceans have no meaning by themselves - they are there and always will be but, for a very, very few, their presence inspires a dream of pitting our puny strength against their might, and to conquer not them but ourselves.

“The quest to prove worthy of an almost inconceivable challenge is our greatest reward. To us it is not the final result that matters but how we measure up to our self-imposed task to confront and do battle with nature at its rawest. “And those who die in the attempt do not die in defeat, quite the opposite. Their death is, in many ways, a triumph - the symbol of that indomitable human spirit that will break before it bends. To test what we are made of, that is our pursuit.”