The ORS Int. is the official adjudicator of ocean rowing records for Guinness World Records

 


 
12:00 - 10 August 2004

ROB PREECE

MY SON: THE OCEAN HERO

 
The mother of Atlantic rowing hero Pete Bray today spoke of her pride for her son - as he said he was ready to take on his epic challenge again. Florence Bray, from Torpoint, was speaking after it emerged Pete's actions had saved the life of his three fellow-rowers when their boat Pink Lady was smashed by a huge wave, ending their bid to beat the record for the fastest crossing of the ocean.

The former Plymouth schoolboy and SAS sergeant was hailed as a hero by crewmates for twice diving under the water to retrieve a liferaft and emergency equipment.

He is due is to be reunited with his family in the city tomorrow.

Mum Florence said she was not surprised by her son's brave actions. He previously set the record for the first solo crossing of the North Atlantic in a 27-foot kayak, paddling across 2,000 miles of open ocean in 76 days.

She said: "My younger son rang me at 3.45am to tell me what had happened.

"I felt dreadful and I was really worried until they had all been picked up."

Mrs Bray, who is widowed, added: "He's always been adventurous and, while I feel the sea may claim him one day, I have never pressured him to stop. This is the life he likes.

"His first time in a canoe was at the age of 13. I missed him one day, and when he came in he'd canoed from Camels Head to Cawsand.

"He's got to have a challenge and this setback won't stop him. He's going to tackle the Pacific next."

The 48-year-old ex-SAS diver is a reluctant hero, insisting: "I had a job to do and I got on with it."

Pete, who attended Ford and Trelawney schools, was one of a four-strong British team of rowers attempting to set a new trans-Atlantic record.

The four had been at sea for 39 days and were on course to shatter the 55-day record by 10 days when a 60ft wave hit their craft, 300 miles west of the Isles of Scilly.

They were picked up by a Danish tanker and brought ashore at Foynes, on the west coast of Ireland, before flying to Southampton Airport.

Pete was met at the airport yesterday by his girlfriend Maria Newton and his brother Clinton, who had travelled from Plymstock with his wife and two children.

Pete said: "We desperately needed the liferaft, but my half of the boat was upside-down.

"I dived back into the boat to get the liferaft, and then I dived in again to get the grab bag.

"The thought that we might die never entered my mind - we had all the safety equipment, we were well drilled and the adrenaline just took over."

After retrieving the crew's liferaft and grab bag, Pete told jokes to keep the crew awake and in good spirits while they awaited rescue.

Pete added: "We're a Cornish family and I've got a lot of friends in Plymouth.

"During my schooldays I was known as David. It was only when I joined the military that I used my real name."

Clinton, 38, a former Army bandmaster, learned of his brother's plight in a phone call in the early hours on Sunday.

He said: "His crewmates are hailing him as a hero, but he's always been a hero to me.

"Hearing how he dived into the water to get the liferaft, it wasn't a shock - that's Pete."


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