74 year old’s epic 20 mile row from Chichester to Felpham

A 74 year old member of the Felpham Sailing Club has rowed from Chichester Harbour to the Felpham sailing club in an effort to raise money for a club defibrillator

Ross Fisher has sailed his entire life. Having first joined the Felpham Sailing Club at just 11, the 74 year old has turned into something of an institution, the kind of fixture that current sailing club manager Casey Grainger, remembers looking up to as a young girl.

“I started when I was 14, and he was around then and long before,” she said. “He was one of the members that actually helped build the club because it was originally just a shed.”

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Plenty of rowers would have hung up their oars by now, but not Mr Fisher. On the morning of August 17, he dragged out his fishing boat, settled into his seat and took off to sea, rowing from Chichester Harbour to the Felpham Sailing Club in an effort to raise money for a new club defibrillator.

Ross Fisher at sea. Photo by Tony Lord of the Bognor Regis camera club

It was a total distance of about 20 miles and, with a stunning time of seven hours, ten minutes, Mr Fisher considers it a real success, not least because he more than doubled his £2,000 fundraising target.

But it almost didn’t happen. Despite his experience, the seasoned sailor said the 20 mile row wasn’t without it’s challenges.

“I nearly gave up.” He said.

“I set off at seven o’clock in the morning and I’d planned to go down the harbour with the tide, by the wind was so strong that, every time I stopped rowing, I was doing one knot backwards. I got just past Itchenor and thought ‘if it’s going to be like this, I’m not going to make it,’”

“But then the current picked up a bit and the wind seemed to ease.”

Similarly challenging was the sailor’s choice of boat. No carbon fibre speed machines for Mr Fisher, he opted to row the challenge in a fishing boat almost as old as himself.

“It rows quite well, but it’s got a lot of windage on it, that’s the trouble. It’s quite hard if you’re rowing into the wind.”

The money left over from buying and installing the defibrillator, which should cost around £2,000 will be donated to St Wilfrid’s House, a cause close to Mr Fisher’s heart.

“Lots of my friends have ended up in St Wilfrids. I’m 74, you get to that age and people start to disappear, but they were always extremely well looked after there.”

Perhaps that’s why he’s so grateful to the people who donated to his fundraiser and supported his training.

“I’m chuffed. I’m chuffed at the lovely comments from people who have donated money and I’m chuffed with people’s generosity. Because, alright I rowed round there, but some people have given quite a lot of money.”