Kirdford adventurer nearing new Atlantic row record

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A BRAVE Kirdford man hoping to make history as the youngest solo rower to cross the Atlantic Ocean is on the final leg of his epic journey.

This week, his proud parents flew out to Barbados ready to be reunited after months apart from their son.

Tommy Tippetts has conquered nearly 3,000 miles of merciless water since he left the Spanish island of La Gomera 75 days ago.

Last week the rower celebrated his birthday aboard the 24ft vessel which has been battered by 15ft waves and powerful gales.

But despite now being 23, Tommy will be the youngest rower to ever cross the Atlantic single-handedly when he arrives on the Caribbean island hopefully next Thursday or Friday.

Speaking just hours before her flight, Tommy’s ‘exhausted’ mother Roz told the County Times of the ‘enormous relief’ she will feel to have her son in her arms again.

“How am I feeling? Exhausted,” she said, “like I have been holding my breath since the day he set off. Of course proud but I cannot quite relax until he is within a stones throw of land.

“So much could still happen so we are all still taking each day as it comes.”

Meanwhile, Tommy has fought countless problems on his journey including weather so fierce he was forced to retreat to the island of Ferro in the Canaries where a volcano was erupting, just 50 miles from the start point on La Gomera.

Originally Tommy had been rowing as part of the Talisker Whiskey Challenge, but after re-starting, he had no choice but to continue the gruelling voyage alone.

Last week the rower said he took on what proved to be ‘one of the toughest days I have had to deal with’ due to strong winds and a current both in the wrong direction, making progress painfully slow.

Later that day his electric watermaker - a vital piece of equipment supplying his onboard fluids - broke down.

In his latest blog post, Tommy writes: “The motor that powers the pump gave up the fight and although I spent a good couple of hours trying different ways to fix it, as well as on the phone to Jim Macdonald of Mactra who supplied the equipment, we came to the conclusion that the pump had expired and without a spare on board there was not a lot I could do.”

He must now use an emergency watermaker with a manual pump, producing four litres of fresh water after an hour of pumping instead of 26 the failed equipment provided.

But despite the string of bad luck, the rower remains in good spirits, tweeting an April Fool’s Day ruse that he would not be allowed into Barbados because he does not have the right paperwork.

“Been talking to Barbados Port Authority all day who say I do not have papers needed from La Gomera and will not clear me to enter,” the tweet read.

It was enough to trick Tommy’s mother, who said: “We had numerous calls and emails suggesting getting in touch with various authorities and offering accommodation in other parts of the Caribbean!

“At least it shows Tommy is feeling pretty relaxed even allowing for his watermaker having packed up.”

As the rower takes on the final leg of this mammoth journey, he has thanked all those who have supported him and the mental health charity mind.

He added: “Donations are continuing to come in and some hugely generous amounts are appearing. I know I say it nearly every blog but I really thank everyone who has donated, it is greatly appreciated by me and the many people it will help.”

Roz Tippetts, whilst desperate to be united with her son again has said she feels ‘concerned’ as to how Tommy will be physically.

“He has said he has lost a few stone and has cuts and sores that haven’t healed but it will be very upsetting if he arrives in a poor physical state.”

After Tommy’s boat is put on a container the family hope to return to the UK on April 19.

Roz said: “As we have now said our goodbyes to our village we feel so very grateful for their amazing support and continued interest. It quite simply would have been an arduous few months without everyone’s friendliness.

“It will be an enormous relief to have him home and then we can think about celebrating the world record if it is confirmed.”

To track Tommy, or for more information on how to donate, visit