Researchers help rescue record attempting rower

Researchers help rescue record attempting rower

A team led by a University of Aberdeen marine scientist was involved in the rescue of a British adventurer attempting to smash the world record for solo rowing across the Atlantic.

Professor Monty Priede, director of the University’s Oceanlab, was leading scientific studies of the ecology of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge when the vessel he and his team are aboard - the Royal Research Ship James Cook – responded to a Mayday alert.

Peter Bray - who hoped to set a new time for rowing from Newfoundland to the Isles of Scilly - issued a distress call due to hazardous conditions - a six metre swell and 40 knot winds -ahead of an impending hurricane.

The 49-year-old had embarked on the challenge to raise funds for the Help for Heroes charity which is helping soldiers and other servicemen and women.

Professor Priede took the decision to divert from their work studying marine ecology and marine creatures on the sea floor and head for Mr Bray, a former soldier and military diver who has attempted a number of extreme challenges.

Professor Priede said: “Falmouth Coastguard issued a request to all shipping in the area to attend to a Mayday alert 110 miles to the west of us.

“The RRS James Cook was the nearest ship in the North Atlantic on the Tuesday night and we worked out that we could be in the area around 10am the following morning.

“We headed towards Peter and his vessel Black Knight with real trepidation that night. It was a real stinking, blowing night and we were heading against really rough seas and wind.

“But when we got there on Wednesday morning - exactly where the Coastguard had indicated - it was a tremendous relief to see that Peter was absolutely ok.

“After some careful manoeuvring of our ship Peter was able to clamber up the pilot ladder, abandoning his own boat, and then he showered and joined us for lunch.”

Mr Bray said: “It was purely a safety issue with the impending hurricane that I ended the challenge as I didn’t want to endanger people at a later date if I had carried on.

“I was pleased and excited to see the James Cook but gutted at the same time that the challenge was over.

“But I will continue to raise funds for Help for Heroes and have another challenge already in mind.”

The James Cook isnow back to work in calm weather and Peter Bray will stay on board for the rest of the voyage with the scientific team who dock in Falmouth on September 9.

  • Professor Priede is leading what is known as the ECOMAR project aboard the Royal Research Ship James Cook. Funded by NERC – the Natural Environment Research Council – the project involves scientists and researchers from  Southampton, St Andrews, Moscow, Durham, Oban, Plymouth, Oxford, Newcastle, Azores and Portugal.  For more information see: