A British rower completed an 8,060-mile crossing of the Pacific Ocean in dramatic fashion Friday when he was thrown from his boat and forced to swim the final 200 yards in heavy surf.
Jim Shekhdar, a 54-year-old former computer salesman, was rowing toward a beach at North Stradbroke Island, near the capital of Australia's Queensland state, Brisbane, when he was hit by a 6-foot wave and thrown overboard.
His wife and children waded into the water to greet him as he struggled out of the pounding sea with television helicopters hovering overhead.
Shekhdar began his excursion in Peru in June of last year.
He is the only person known to have crossed the Pacific Ocean in a row boat without assistance. He is also the fastest to cross, finishing 20 days quicker than an assisted row from San Francisco to the Great Barrier Reef by Englishman Peter Bird in 1983.
He described seeing the Australian coastline after 274 days alone at sea as "absolutely wonderful."
Shekhdar was also given a cold beer on the beach something he had been wishing for during his past months at sea.
Shekhdar said his most dangerous encounter during nine months at sea was with a tanker that came within ten yards of running him down. He also fought off a large shark that attacked his boat, which was called Le Shark.
©MMI The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed
© 2001 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.