Saturday, December 13, 2008

Rower rescued off Australia after 10-month journey

SYDNEY, Australia — An Italian adventurer who spent 10 months rowing more than 9,500 nautical miles (18,000 kilometers) across the Pacific has been rescued a mere 65 nautical miles short of his goal — Australia — after rough weather sapped him of his final shreds of energy.

Alex Bellini, who began his voyage off Peru in February, contacted his wife Friday to say he was too exhausted to row his 25-foot (7.5 meter) boat any further, despite being nearly in sight of the eastern Australian town of Laurieton.

Bellini's wife contacted authorities, and an Australian tug boat towed the 30-year-old to shore. They reached Newcastle, 100 miles (160 kilometers) north of Sydney, Saturday morning.

Although looking weary and thin and sporting a bushy beard, Bellini grinned and appeared in high spirits as he was reunited with his tearful wife, Francesca.

"I'm feeling good. I'm exhausted," Bellini told The Associated Press. "I need some time to relax."

A strong wind had hampered his efforts to get closer to shore for days. By Friday, he said, his energy was gone.

"For the next few days, the weather would have been even worse," said Bellini, who has also rowed across the Mediterranean and the Atlantic. "It has been a grueling, grueling effort."...more

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