British-led Rowing Team Smashes Two World Records for Elephants in Epic Indian Ocean Crossing

Date Published

A UK-led seven-person rowing crew has today broken two world records for the fastest-ever crossing of the Indian Ocean in a rowing boat. The Rossiter’s Avalon also achieved the longest rowing record having arrived in the Seychelles at 14:58 GMT (18:58 local time) on August 7.

The rowers set out from Geraldton, Australia on June 11 and have covered over 4,200 miles to the Seychelles in just 57 days despite knockdowns in massive seas and the loss of crucial equipment, a collision with a whale, and the evacuation of a crewman in a dramatic mid-ocean rescue.

The crew aboard the Rossiter’s Avalon, an Ocean Row Events vessel, completed the longest distance ever rowed by a team, as well as claiming thefirst ever oar-powered voyage from Geraldton to the Seychelles.


The international crew hail from Britain, Australia, South Africa and Iceland and have been rowing 24 hours a day in two hourly shifts. Skippered by world-renowned rower Leven Brown, the team of seven have been completely unsupported throughout the journey.

Discussing the expedition after 57 days at sea, Skipper Leven Brown and Director of Ocean Row Events commented:

“It’s been one of the most remarkable voyages and I am very proud to be flying the flag for Save the Elephants. Am looking forward to having a cold beer!”

Beyond collecting world records, the seven rowers have been motivated by the need to raise money and awareness of charities close to their hearts. The charities chosen include Save the Elephants to help in their on-going battle against the ivory trade, Multiple Sclerosis Research Australia, the Fiann Paul Foundation, Hafal (mental health), and the Ubunye Challenge/Angus Gillis Foundation.

Iain Douglas-Hamilton, Save the Elephants Founder and cousin of rower Jamie Douglas-Hamilton added:

“Some people run marathons, climb mountains or sky-dive for elephants. The crew of the Avalon have put all in the shade by rowing unaided across a huge ocean. I am so proud of my cousin Jamie, and in awe at the courage, endurance and idealism of the captain and the crew. Not only elephants and the environment are their cause, but also helping those with MS, supporting people in mental distress, and bringing education and support to disadvantaged communities in Southern Africa and the Himalayas. It is a truly inspiring combination.”

Rower on the expedition Jamie Douglas-Hamilton said:

“I cannot begin to describe the immense sense of achievement we all feel having completed this epic adventure. I personally feel very honored to follow in my grand-father’s footsteps of achieving a world’s first as he was the first man to fly over Mount Everest. I am happy to highlight the cause of Save the Elephants since these wonderful creatures are under great threat from illegal killing for ivory and desperately need help.”

The team faced enormous challenges on their odyssey including having to evacuate a crew member after an injury, three capsizes in gigantic seas in the tail end of a hurricane and a collision with what was thought to be a blue whale. The boat’s Automated Information System (AIS) aerial was knocked off, three oars were broken and her auto-helm was destroyed, depriving the team of a rower on each shift as steering had to be done manually.


For photographs please see the following link:

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Nicola Cutler 07979 127989 or [email protected]

Notes to Editors


Skipper Leven Brown (Scotland), Jamie Douglas-Hamilton (Scotland), Tim Spiteri (Australia), Fiann Paul (Iceland), Shane Usher (Australia), Cameron Bellamy (South Africa/Australia), Heather Rees-Gaunt (Wales).

Skipper Leven Brown, whose organisation Ocean Row Events put the expedition together, is considered one of the most experienced ocean rowers in the world and has rowed through four hurricanes in a solo crossing of the Atlantic. Leven has broken seven world records and is the only person in history to hold both the North Atlantic and mid Atlantic speed records simultaneously.

Ocean Row Events

Ocean Row Events operates a world-class business in a quest to break records, raise money for good causes and to give cost effective access to real adventure for everyone from executives to students. For more information visit:

Save the Elephants

Save the Elephants (STE) works to secure a future for elephants in a rapidly changing world. To battle the current surge in ivory poaching, the STE/WCN Elephant Crisis Fund is identifying and supporting the most effective global partners to stop poaching, thwart traffickers and end demand for ivory. STE supports elephant science, that provides cutting-edge scientific insights into elephant behaviour, intelligence, and long-distance movement and applies them to the long-term challenges of elephant conservation.

For more information visit:

MS Australia

Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is a chronic disease that affects the central nervous system. The progress, severity and specific symptoms of MS cannot be predicted. Statistics show that 1 in 20 Australian’s will be touched by MS through a family member, colleague or friend who is living with the disease. It is estimated that over 21,000 people in Australia have MS. MS Australia aims to minimize the impacts of MS on all individuals affected by the disease, their families, carers and the community by offering a wide range of assistance, services and equipment. MS Australia’s goal is to assist everyone affected by MS to live life to their full potential until we ultimatey find a cure.

The Fiann Paul Foundation

The Fiann Paul Foundation was established in 2011 by world-renowned transatlantic rower, photographer, and educator Fiann Paul after two years spent living among the local people away from the touristy tracks of the Annapurna range and Eastern Nepal. Its aim is to provide education and skills training to the Himalayan children. The foundation strives to build schools, sponsor education, furnish a thorough library, provide scholarships for talented children, lessen the burden of buying stationary and clothes and raise awareness of the plight of the Himalayan children worldwide.

Ubunye Challenge/Angus Gillis Foundation

Ubunye’s mission is to raise money to support and enable communities in some of the poorest and most underdeveloped rural areas of South Africa and Zimbabwe. We are proud to be joining forces with Vimba in the UK and Angus Gillis Foundation in South Africa. Both these foundations fund and facilitate projects in consultation with specific African communities; empowering individuals and helping them to improve their lives and the lives of their families. The foundations’ both recognize that truly sustainable development takes place only when communities invest in themselves.

Hafal (mental health)

Hafal is the principal organisation in Wales working with people recovering from severe mental illness, their families and carers. Hafal’s services thoughout Wales include a range of activities for clients and carers including employment training; housing support; resource centres; befriending; arts projects; inpatient advocacy; family support, and carers’ support services. Please contact us at [email protected] if you would like to undertake a sponsored event and create a fundraising page.

[email protected]


Previous World Record – 5th August 2013 – Maxime Chaya (Lebanon), Livar Nysted (Faroe Islands) & Stuart Kershaw (GB) – on ocean rowing boat “tRIO”. They set a new speed record for rowing the Indian Ocean, became the first team of three to row any ocean and Livar Nysted became the first person to row two oceans in the same year.

The current speed record for rowing the Indian Ocean in traditional boat belongs to “tRIO” that rowed from Geraldton, WA. to Mauritius between June 9 – August 5, 2013 at average speed 2,27 Knots. NB: tRIO’s expedition compared to Avalon’s is shorter in distance. Avalon’s current average speed is 2.66 KNOTS

Distance: The distance rowed by Erden Eruc (non-stop) is 4375 miles (7042 km) (3805 nm), and that of Avalon – 4208 miles (6772 km) (3656 nm). But for Avalon this is the longest distance rowed by any team in the Indian Ocean.