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Wrexham Glyndwr University graduate aims to break Indian Ocean rowing boat record

8 May 2017


Photo: Barry and his Indian Ocean rowing crew (Adrian Scarborough Photography)

A Wrexham man inspired by his dad’s military career to create his own legacy is aiming to set a new world record for crossing the Indian Ocean in a rowing boat – just four years after a record-breaking feat in the Pacific Ocean.

Adventurer Barry Hayes, from Brymbo, will set off with three other crew members in May 2018 in an attempt to cross the Indian Ocean in less than 68 days.

In 2014, the Wrexham Glyndwr University graduate rowed as part of the world’s first human powered race across the Pacific Ocean, breaking the pre-race world record by 19 days.

As well as achieving the world record feat, the team is aiming to raise more than £100,000 to help find a cure for Parkinson’s disease.

36-year-old Barry had never rowed a boat before his world-record feat three years ago but wanted to have a big achievement by which he could be remembered. His dad served in the Falklands, with numerous near-death experiences and stories to tell.

“My dad had some incredible stories about jungles, deserts and the wars he’d been involved with,” said Barry. “He really did have an amazing life and I wanted my own son to have something he could tell his own friends about me. But I worked in an office 8-5 Monday to Friday and had nothing before my first ocean race.

“That was the biggest sporting achievement of my life and it gave me enormous confidence. Only 41 attempts have been made on the Indian Ocean though, 20 of which have been successful.

“The world record for a crew of four is 68 days and for any crew it’s 56 days. I know the record can only be beaten with the team and the right conditions. I have no way of altering the conditions but we most definitely have the right team.”

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The team line-up is completed by Billy Taylor, from West Sussex, Robin Buttery, from Leicester, and James Plumley, from Guernsey.

They have been training for almost a year, including working with Professor Greg Whyte from the Centre for Human Health and Performance, who has trained the likes of David Williams, Eddie Izzard, Davina McCall, Chris Moyles and Gary Barlow.

Barry’s double world record-breaking bid would complete a remarkable turnaround for the computing professional, who had almost given up on gaining a degree before joining Wrexham Glyndwr University in 2002.

“I had always wanted to get a degree from a young age but it never worked out for me when I went to university for the first time. I had the potential when I was growing up but I wasn’t very academic. Glyndwr managed to see past all that and harness my ability. I remember the elation vividly when I found out I’d passed, it was an amazing moment.”

Team member Robin suffers from Young Onset Parkinson’s Disease and research will be carried out during the row to show the effects of exercise on YOPD.

“YOPD can be alleviated with exercise but some of the exercises which are recommended to sufferers are limiting. If you’re young you want to feel you can do anything – play football, jump out of aeroplanes and other crazy things. This row seemed like the perfect opportunity to drive that message home.”

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