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Times Online.

 

Rowers' hero pauses for a pint and plans next adventure

 

August 12 2004

Reporter - David Lister

PETER Bray had only one thought yesterday as he enjoyed a pint of Guinness at Shannon Airport in Ireland. “I don’t know about the others,” he said, “but if we can get a sponsor then I’ll be back out there as soon as I can.”

His three fellow oarsmen — Jonathan Gornall, 48, Mark Stubbs, 40, and John Wills, 33 — said that it was typical of their friend that, barely a day after saving their lives in the middle of a storm in the Atlantic Ocean, he was eyeing up his next challenge.

The self-depracating Mr Bray was having none of his colleagues’ praise as they relived the moment that their tiny rowing boat was struck by a giant wave 370 miles (595km) from Britain.

“I had no doubt we were going to get out of there because everything was in place and we all knew the drills,” he said.

As well as helping to rescue Mr Gornall, a Times journalist, Mr Bray, a lean, super-fit 48-year-old, used his experience as a former SAS diver to plunge under the submerged hull of the Pink Lady and retrieve the equipment needed for their survival. He was, Mr Gornall said, “our hero”.

As waves up to 45ft high surged around them, he swam under the wreckage to pull out a liferaft from the well of the forward cabin, before returning underwater to find an emergency “grab-bag” containing a satellite telephone, spare batteries, torches and flares. After clinging to the raft for six hours, the four were saved by a Danish cargo ship, the Scandinavian Reefer, on its way to Ireland from the Caribbean.

Mr Bray is originally from Torpoint, Cornwall. The voyage had been his main ambition since losing his house three years ago while paying off debts of £40,000 incurred as he became the first person to kayak single-handedly across the Atlantic, completing the feat in 76 days.

Wearing standard-issue red boiler suits that the four oarsmen had been given by the ship’s crew, they cut an unusual sight as they wobbled down the gangway on to dry land.

Mr Bray was left to rue what might have been. While his colleagues vowed to wait before making another attempt at their transatlantic challenge, the former soldier had other ideas. “I can’t accept failure,” he said. “For me, it’s unfinished business.”

Mr Gornall, for whom this was a second attempt to row the Atlantic, is unlikely to go out into the ocean for a third time. “If at first you don’t succeed, try again,” he said. “Then take the hint.”
 

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