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21st September 2023 | Read Time: 3 minutes

Everyday Hero Rows To Africa

In a remarkable feat of determination and endurance, Rob Barton has become the first person to row solo, non-stop, from Australia to Africa.

After 86 days at sea, the 58-year-old Perth grandfather landed on the shores of Africa on July 20, cementing his Guinness World Record victory.

Dubbed “the naked rower” by those following his daily social media updates, Barton has captured global attention not only for his audacious rowing endeavour but also for embracing the unconventional and choosing to soak up a little sunshine in the nude during his endless hours of rowing.

Barton embarked on this adventure to support zero2hero’s vision after a personal experience with one of his daughters. So far, he has raised over $140,000.

Although Barton seemed to cruise through the last few months at sea, he admits he encountered numerous obstacles, including a couple of capsizes and being thrown from the boat, but none more challenging than the seasickness that almost had him quit within the first few days.

“The biggest challenge was at the very start when I was suffering from seasickness or possibly gas poisoning, or both,” Barton revealed. “Just a few days after leaving Carnarvon, I called Neil, my shore-based operations manager, and told him I was quitting and going back to Exmouth,” he admitted. “I had a good excuse regarding a leaking boat and seasickness, but they were just excuses. I really didn’t want to go on; I was over it!”

Rob began to row back, however, it was during his momentary retreat that he rediscovered his motivation and resolve. Reflecting on the reasons he embarked on this voyage, he found renewed purpose. “Firstly, it was to have an adventure, but that was no longer high on my list; I had had enough adventure,” Barton shared. “Secondly, it was raising money for zero2hero to allow them to deliver suicide prevention programs to our youth. After my own personal experience with one of my daughters, this was the motivation I needed to turn around and get on with it.”

Throughout the long hours spent rowing, Barton found solace in contemplation, drifting into daydreams, and formulating future plans. “When I am rowing, this is the time I had the most to think, and I lost myself quite easily in daydreams and ‘what if’ scenarios,” Barton mused. “I think one of my school reports from 45 odd years ago commented that if I spent less time daydreaming and more time working, I may amount to something. So not a lot changes!”

Prior to undertaking this adventure, Rob was an avid sailor and a novice rower, laughing he’s now realised “there is a reason man invented sails, why row when you could be sailing!”

On arrival in Africa, when asked what he was most looking forward to, Rob shared that “second to seeing my daughters, I think it will have to be roast chicken. Roast potatoes, roast parsnips, broccoli, roast sweet potatoes, lashings of gravy and a nice glass of red!”.