Graham's page we decided would consist of the recollections and observations of his fellow ocean rowers. These are all excerpts from books or newspaper articles.


‘There were loads of characters. Take for example Graham Walters, a carpenter from Leicester. Graham had collected his kitset only 2 months ago. Here he was complete with saw and hammer in hand still building his boat, the George Geary. The first coat of paint was still tacky and while that was drying he was working out the best set up for the rowing positions.  Graham had yet to fit any of the major items of equipment, including solar panels, compass and electrical system. I tried to offer whatever assistance I could.  The enormity of the task facing this likeable man with the broad accent made me feel quite feeble and inadequate. However, I did manage to convince him that fitting a water desalinator would be a good idea. He was considering carrying all of his water across the Atlantic with him, the same way previous ocean rowing crossings had been achieved. This, I politely suggested, was not the way to provision with water this time. Though it was perilous to rely on this kind of equipment, one had to do so if you were going to stand any chance of winning.’

The Naked Rower – Rob Hamill


Chatting with Graham Walters put our problems into perspective. Graham had successfully competed in the 1997 race and therefore commanded a certain amount of respect. In 1997 he had arrived in Tenerife with an incomplete boat, the George Geary. To the disbelief of the other competitors he had continued building his boat on the pier and somehow managed to get it ready in time for the race! Graham was now back on the pier with the George Geary but it was in a terrible state.

“It looks like you left it in the back garden and forgot about it after the last race,” I commented.

“Well actually I did. I was not planning on rowing it again, but then Michael Ryan contacted me and told me his partner had pulled out. So we made a deal. I would throw in the boat, he would pay the race fees and we would then prepare the boat here in Tenerife,” Graham replied.

 
 

I looked at Graham's boat.  It was in bad shape.  Bad paint job.  No hatches, no solar panels, no nothing!
“Do you really think you will be ready to go?” I asked.
“Sure, I'll finish the painting today or tomorrow. Maybe I'll also find some solar panels to put on. That would be nice, but if not we can always operate the water maker manually,” Graham replied, looking and sounding completely unstressed by the whole situation.
He was phlegmatic: “After I finished rowing the Atlantic in 1997 I decided to learn how to row, so I joined a rowing club. It is a bit bizarre really, to row across the Atlantic then join a rowing club to learn how to row. My technique is definitely better now.”
I watched Graham over the next few days. I never once saw him lose his good mood or seem the slightest bit concerned about his state of preparation.   I think to the end of my days I will always aspire to be able to deal with stress like Graham.
Eventually, Graham and Michael would finish 22nd in the race, taking 77 days to complete the crossing.

 

Beijing to Barbados – Christian Havrehed


Graham Walters is a wise man. At 54, this British carpenter is not yet the most senior member of the second Atlantic rowing challenge, a rowing race with two-man teams which started on Sunday 7th October, in San Juan, on the west coast of Tenerife Island. Even if he is younger than Tony Day, a financial consultant of 56, Graham is the only one of 70 competitors to have already experienced this crossing of more than 3,000 miles which is described by Chay Blyth (the race manager) as ‘the world’s toughest race’.

In the feverishness that precedes great starts, GW was one of the few not to be under stress.  The day before, as others were busy organising their supplies, verifying their satellite links, welcoming guests or sponsors or cursing Chay Blyth’s casualness – the latter was only interested in their cheques – this craftsman who is keen on quality workmanship was touching up his paintwork on the old dinghy that permitted him to arrive safe and sound 4 years ago.

As some others were packing 60 or 80 days’ food, GW conserved his energy with a last quiet sleep. Then, when the 34 teams were champing at the bit near the start line, he put his boat peacefully in the water aware that being an hour late at the start would not be significant at the arrival

Gerard Albouy, writing in Le Monde