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Record-breaking ocean-goer Roy Finlay has dropped anchor in Oban ready to make 2019 a year of firsts.
The 57-year-old skipper and boat designer and builder, who already has 31 Guinness world records linked to his name, plans to be the first person to row solo around Scotland, achieving a long held ambition covering 1,000 miles in two months and raising £40,000 for four Oban charities.
He will face the challenge in a 14ft modified dinghy and, although he will be taking a tent, will spend most nights on board as there will be very few landing places.
However, he is planning to stop off at his newly-adopted home town of Oban probably two weeks after setting off from the Solway Firth on April 20. He also plans to make other stops en route, including Campbeltown and the Skye Bridge as part of the fundraising mission.
On completing that coastal challenge, Mr Finlay, who rowed from Crinan to Inverness through the Caledonian Canal and kayaked around the north from Oban to Inverness raising £10,000 for a Romanian orphanage in the summer of 1997, will start work designing and building a 60ft trimaran which will set off from Senegal to South America in January 2020 attempting to set a new word record across the Atlantic.
Mr Finlay said: ‘This year is very important to me. I’ve had major successes but also some monumental failures in my career. I’ve retired from ocean rowing but I still have a hunger for more firsts before I hang up my oars.’
He said being dubbed ‘Captain Calamity’ by the national press reporting a series of those ‘monumental failures’, including his first abandoned attempt at rowing the Atlantic in 1998 after a reported fall-out with his crew, had forced him to give up his ocean rowing career and had been deeply frustrating.
In November 2013, he and four crew also had to be rescued by helicopter when their £50,000 boat, the Barracuda, lost steering off Gran Canaria during another attempt to row across the Atlantic.
‘I missed out on an Atlantic rowing world record by just a day in 2007 and a boat I designed in 2010 set a world record for the fastest crossing from the Canary Islands to the West Indies, so I wouldn’t call that a calamity,’ he said.
On Saturday, Mr Finlay was at the Corran Halls to launch news of his charity row around Scotland and to rally support. Charities set to benefit from the row include Hope Kitchen, Carr Gomm, Addaction and St Vincent De Paul.
Hope’s service manager Lorraine MacCormick said: ‘It’s very kind of Roy to think of us and the other charities. We wish him the best of luck.’