Rower abandons attempt to cross Pacific

Epileptic rower Andrew Halsey has abandoned a nine-month attempt to cross the Pacific Ocean, it was revealed today.

Mr Halsey, 42, from Camden, north London, was picked up by a Korean fishing boat yesterday after sending an emergency signal, the Ocean Rowing Society said.

Colleagues at the society had been planning to resupply the rower with food and medication when he asked to be rescued after around 250 days at sea.

Mr Halsey said that he hoped the journey would reunite him with his 15-year-old daughter, after whom his 28ft glass fibre rowing boat, The Brittany Rose, is named.

The father of one has not seen her for seven years but hopes that she will see press coverage and contact him.

He set off from San Diego, California, on July 15, aiming to row the 7,000 miles to Australia in seven months.

But bad weather conditions meant that after seven months at sea, Mr Halsey had rowed 6,000 miles, but 4,000 of those were in the wrong direction.

He was still more than 4,700 miles from his destination when he was rescued about 1,200 miles south-east of Hawaii.

Mr Halsey had four epileptic seizures between July and October alone, and has set off his emergency beacon (EPIRB) three times.

However the rower, who crossed the Atlantic alone in 117 days in 1997, refused each time to be rescued, after thanking the other vessels for coming to his aid.

He told a Norwegian fishing vessel which responded to his emergency signal at the beginning of October that he had set off his EPIRB by accident, and continued after accepting cigarettes and batteries.

But Mr Halsey, who stayed in touch by e-mail until October last year, saw his food supplies run low and his last tracking beacon, which allows coastguards to determine his position, was also running out of power.

His family said in a statement: "Andrew has encountered some of the worst weather conditions on record but has reassured his mother on several occasions that he would end his journey, should he consider his life to be in danger."

Kenneth Crutchlow, director of the Ocean Rowing Society, has flown to Honolulu to meet Mr Halsey.

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