Malcolm Skelton has begun his epic 2,150km journey.
Malcolm Skelton has begun his epic 2,150km journey. Contributed

Man leaves Coffs for NZ in solo rowing mission

IT was a tedious few months for Malcolm Skelton as he waited for the sea gods to bring him the right conditions, but this morning his epic 2,150km solo journey began.

Malcolm is rowing from Coffs Harbour to New Zealand completely on his own in order to raise awareness and vital funds for his wife's rare, terminal illness.

Sarah has been diagnosed with progressive neuromuscular condition Friedreich's Ataxia which has no treatment or cure at this stage.

The crossing is expected to take anywhere from 50-70 days depending on the prevailing winds and currents.

But the father of two hasn't jumped into this mission blind, and says the public has no need to be concerned.

"I have been training for this event for five years now. I've done smaller events leading up to this, and all the planning has been meticulous. You've got to plan for the worst case scenarios, and you've got to have back-ups,” he said.

"I have a list of equipment and back-ups that puts most people's shopping lists to shame.”

Malcolm was initially set to depart Coffs Harbour back in December 2016, but deferred his trip due to unfavourable weather conditions.

"I'm not rushing to go and make a foolish decision. Every decision must be very calculated, I had to take in a whole broad spectrum of information before departing.”

Malcolm says his courageous journey is not about competition, or triumphing. He's only driven by selfless and rather personal reasons. For the many who think the rower is 'crazy' to take on the mission alone, he says it all comes down to the love he has for his wife.

"I'm not prepared to sit back and do nothing.

"The reason I'm crossing is to help raise funds and awareness for my wife's condition. She is one of 50,000 with the condition. There is not a lot of research into the illness, and it is all privately funded. There's no cure, it's terminal.

"Because it's a rare condition, a majority of people don't have any emotional attachment to it. My mission is to make people have an emotional attachment to it, and to realise how important it is. I'm stepping out of most people's comfort zones to put light on this condition.”

The incredible feat was most recently completed by Shaun Quincey in 54 days around seven years ago.

To donate to the cause visit

To keep up to date with Malcolm while he's out at sea, visit the same website or visit the Facebook group Tasman Row 4 FARA.

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