A WREXHAM man has joined a rowing crew bidding to break a world record for crossing the Indian Ocean – while at the same time raising £200,000 for research into a rare form of Parkinson’s Disease.

Barry Hayes, 37, and his team-mates have been in training for a year, honing their endurance and skills ready for the mammoth challenge of rowing unsupported across the vast expanse of sea from Exmouth on the western coast of Australia to Mauritius.

Among Barry’s rowing colleagues in the four-man crew is Robin Buttery, 45, who was only recently diagnosed with Young Onset Parkinson’s Disease.

While the university worker has no experience of long-distance rowing, he was chosen to join Barry and Billy Taylor – who both have a record-breaking row across the Pacific Ocean in 2014 on their CV – and another experienced oarsman James Plumley, for the unique event which will raise research funds and awareness into the disease.

The quartet plan to stream their daily journey to schools across the country, which will be the first time an ocean rowing attempt has been captured on live camera.

Barry, a motivational speaker from Brymbo, outlined the treacherous terrain the four of them face when they start their epic journey sometime in early June.

Their aim is to complete the 3,200 nautical miles to Mauritius in less than the current record of 68 days.

Of the 42 attempts made by a rowing crew of four to date, only half have been successful and rowers have to contend with storms and illness, as well as passing obstacles such as large ships and whales as well as the occasional shark attack.

“There’s no one been killed attempting this in the Indian Ocean, but if your boat goes upside down or you fall ill, then you need to call for assistance, the row is over,” he said.

“We use bottled water to weigh the boat down and we row two hours on and two hours off and rest or sleep in a little cabin at the end of the boat. It is having the mindset to tackle all kinds of situations.

“When my father, who had been in the military, was hospitalised for two years when I was younger, I made up my mind then that I would create some adventure in my life and have some stories to tell like he has.”

Barry climbed Kilimanjaro when he was 16 and has completed marathons and ultra-marathons, as well as training for an Antarctic Challenge.

More recently he undertook an overland trip with Billy from the
UK to Asia.

“We’ve been training together for a year for this. I did the Pacific with Billy in 2014, but Robin has no previous experience, yet when we met he just seemed to be the sort of person we wanted to do this with,” added Barry.

“People think Parkinson’s is something that affects older people, but you can get it when you are 18. Because that is rare there needs to be more research into the illness and we are looking to raise £200,000 for that purpose.”

The crew hope their record bid will inspire school pupils watching the stream and encourage them to learn more about topics such as oceanography, marine life and conservation.

The camera system will enable the rowers to hold live video calls through the Learn Live platform, which has hundreds of schools and further education establishments signed up.

The boat will also be fitted with a tracker, so children can follow the crew’s progress via a free app, as their positions will be logged every four hours.

Billy, a firefighter from Bracklesham Bay who will be leading the crew, said: “We started this journey to raise awareness for Young Onset Parkinson’s Disease and while that still holds true, the challenge also presented a great opportunity to inspire kids, teach them about the world beyond the classroom and encourage them to take up exercise.

“We’ll be encountering beautiful sunsets, breathtaking marine life as well as, sadly, plastic bags, bottles and other unsightly objects that litter our oceans. We’ll have to contend with sea sickness and salt sores too and the kids will see and experience the good and bad.”

l Donations and sponsorship for Young Onset Parkinson’s Disease
via Clear Trust can be made at: https://mydonate.bt.com/events/
rowtheindianocean/437068 or

Row the Indian Ocean Schools Project is open to any primary and secondary school and those in further education at https://learnliveuk.com/row-the- indian-ocean- live-broadcasts/.