Photo credit Anthony Upton/LNP
SATcase would like to congratulate Lee Spencer ‘The Rowing Marine’ for completing the ultimate R3 Challenge and going down in history as he smashes the able bodied solo Atlantic row world record by a month!!
No-One Need Ever Be Defined By A Disability
On Monday 11th March 2019, Cayenne, French Guiana: Briton Lee Spencer, a 49 year-old single leg amputee, has today reached Cayenne, French Guiana to beat the able-bodied World Record for rowing solo across the Atlantic, from mainland Europe to mainland South America, by 36 days. Lee is the world’s first physically disabled person to do the crossing and complete it in 60 days, beating the previous record set, in 2002, of 96 days – gaining him two new World Records as he crossed the line at 0106hrs local time.
Lee, a former Royal Marine, departed Portugal on the 9th January on the 3,500-mile endeavour, setting out to challenge the definition of and perception around disability. He has faced waves of approx. 40 foot, four 15 metre sperm whales swimming underneath him, a bout of gastroenteritis and technical issues including losing GPS and AIS (Automatic Identification System) for a week. He slept for just two hours at a time, was followed by a large shark and all whilst battling the daily routine at sea on a seven-metre boat with the challenges of being a single leg amputee.
Lee, who lives in Devon with his wife Claire and two children, served in the Royal Marines for 24 years. He completed three tours of Afghanistan and one of Iraq but lost his right leg when he stopped to help a motorist on the M3 in 2014. He was hit by flying debris as he made his way to the stricken vehicle and his right leg was severed in the impact. He also had to have his left leg reconstructed.
A year later Lee rowed the Atlantic in a team of four injured veterans. This was the beginning of Lee refusing to be defined by disability. Lee commented:
“Right now, I’m exhausted. The thing I am looking forward to most, obviously, is a beer and then relaxing. I couldn’t relax out there, not even when I went to sleep. There’s always something to worry about. I only had me to rely on. But I did it and I have proved that a disability hasn’t stopped me being who I was before, someone who defined themselves by their physicality. “I don’t believe anyone should be defined by something they can’t do or their limitations. No-one should redefine themselves or be labelled. Having completed this solo trans-Atlantic row I want people to see that with the right support it is still possible to lead a fulfilling life. I am passionate about it and that’s why I made this crossing.
“Disabilities vary and they aren’t just physical. I hope to inspire all those who seek to rediscover themselves and raise money for two very worthy charities, The Endeavour Fund and The Royal Marines Charity, who have supported and inspired me.”
Lee, who was totally unsupported on the water and out of helicopter range for the majority of his journey, has raised over £55,000 for The Royal Marines Charity and The Endeavour Fund, which supports wounded and injured service personnel using sport and adventurous challenges as part of their recovery and rehabilitation. Not only does Lee wish to challenge the embedded preconceptions that impact those with disabilities, he wants to help keep wounded servicemen and women at the forefront of the nation’s mind. To donate please go to uk.virginmoneygiving.com/LeeJSpencer
Reflecting on his journey Lee commented: “There were many incredible moments at sea, I had many highs and many lows. More than once I was convinced it was all over. I was fortunate enough, however, to see some incredible marine life including several sharks, a mahi-mahi, turtles, lots of flying fish and when the pod of four sperm whales swam under the boat, I could smell the breath from their blow holes. You don’t get that every day.”
Lee has completed his ultimate R3 Challenge and is a true inspiration #r3challenge #resilientreliableruggedised #notdefinedbydisability