Tom McClean

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Tom McClean : biography

Tom McClean is a veteran of both the Parachute Regiment and the SAS and is a survival expert who lived on the island of Rockall from 26 May to 4 July 1985 to affirm Britain’s claim to it.

Having been abandoned as a baby, McClean started life as an orphan . He spent much of his teenage years working on a farm until he was bored and enlisted in the British Army. After Blyth and Ridgeway rowed the Atlantic in 1966, McClean announced to both that he was going to complete this alone.

Civilian life

Following his retirement from military service, McClean gained fame for numerous feats of endurance. He holds the world record as the first man to row across the Atlantic Ocean from west to east solo which he did in 1969. Ocean Rowing Society – Completed rows In 1982 he sailed across the Atlantic in the smallest boat to accomplish that crossing. The self-built boat measured 9 feet and 9 inches, and because of the weight of the food took seven weeks to cross. His record was broken three weeks later by a sailor manning 9 feet and 1 inch long boat. In response McClean, used a chainsaw to cut two feet off his own vessel – making it 7 feet and 9 inches long. Giltspur – Tom McClean’s Record Breaking BoatDuring the return trip he lost his mast and the journey took even longer than his first attempt but he regained the record.

In 1985 McClean lived on Rockall from 26 May to 4 July and thereby reaffirmed the United Kingdom’s claim to the island. Tom McClean – Sea Trials – Mallaig, 1985Two years later, the then 44-year-old McClean set about regaining his transatlantic rowing record and achieved his goal crossing the Atlantic in 54 days (a record still held to this day).

In 1990 McClean sailed the Atlantic again, this time in a 37 ft boat shaped like a bottle which he had constructed himself. His boat, the Typhoo Atlantic Challenger, sailed from New York to Falmouth, England. McClean’s most recent feat was the construction, in 1996, of a boat shaped like a giant whale. The boat, ‘Moby’ Prince of Whales, stands 25 ft high and 65 ft long. It has a spout which can launch water as high as 6 metres in the air.

Military career

McClean started his military career in the Parachute Regiment and then progressed into the SAS for a total of nine years.