Sea scooter heroes set world record

 A soldier who broke his back in an Afghan bomb explosion waspopping Champagne corks after setting a unique world record for crossing the English Channel.

After 12 gruelling and dangerous hours, Peter Brooks, part of a four-man British Sub Aqua Club-backed team, which used tiny sea scooters to pull them across the world’s busiest and most dangerous waterway, has written himself into the Guinness World Record book.

Heath Samples, dive leader from Scarborough branch of BSAC, who set up the Guinness World Record expedition, said last night: “Brilliant, we did it, it was hard work, really hard work.

“We’re chuffed to bits, it’s not sunk in yet. Pete Brooks did the final leg and landed in France. As soon as he was standing on the beach and crossed the tide line and the whistle blew, the three of us jumped off to join him and cracked open the bottles of champagne.”

Pete Brooks agreed: “It was brilliant, everyone did the job they were picked to do and it all went seamlessly, apart from the tides, they caught us out on one stretch, but tides can change.”

“I did about four or five hour-long shifts in the water and the back was fine. When I got onto the beach it was an amazing feeling and it’s going to take a while for it to sink in, it feels a bit surreal.

“It was a once in a lifetime opportunity, an absolutely priceless moment when the corks were popping on the beach. There were some holidaymakers there who did not know what was going on and we didn’t have time to stop talking to tourists.”

North Yorkshire firemen, lead fireman Paul Swales and fireman Will Warwick, both from Scarborough station, were part of the BSAC team, and the four men – dubbed the “Muscooteers” – took it in turns in the water, alternating about every hour.

They crossed the Channel in relays, clinging to one of the small six torpedo-shaped, battery-powered Sea Doo (corr) sea scooters, which managed up to 2knots against powerful tides.

Mary Tetley, the Chief Executive of BSAC, was among the first to congratulate the sea scoot heroes.

She said: “What they have achieved is phenomenal and I am delighted that BSAC was able to support them in this successful world record attempt.”

Heath added: “We got on to Shakespeare Beach at 5am when it was still dark and the whistle blew. The light started to come out about 5.30am and we made good progress.

“We had some close shaves with a couple of tankers. We lost a little bit of time in the middle when the wind picked up and there were white horses around. About 3.30pm the sun came out and it was fantastic.

“But the tide turned and pushed us more north of Cap Gris-Nez (the closest point to UK) and we landed at the small fishing village of Wissant. We landed and recorded a time of 12hrs 26m 39s.

“The scooters held up brilliantly. There was just a bit of fatigue and frustration, we covered a lot of sea miles but not a lot in land miles. In one 45minute stretch we covered only 300m because of the tide.

Ian Coverdale, from the Scarborough branch of BSAC, skippered the SSAC’s dive rib, the 8.5m Neptune, and was “magnificent” and planned the route to perfection, says Heath. “It does not matter where you land as long as it’s France and we must have added another one and a half miles to the journey because of the tide.

“It was excellent, it went like clockwork, we were thinking how can this have gone so well? It was a long day but a great day.

“I did the first stint because I was daft enough to set off in the dark. I was in the water for one hour and three minutes in the dark and then we were alternating, changing about every 55m to 1hr 5m. We ran until the batteries were completely dead. We went through 14 batteries.”

For food the team took lots of pasta salads, sandwiches, water, energy drinks and chocolate bars – and three bottles of Champagne to celebrate.

Club member Iain (corr)  Scott was on video for all 12 hours-plus, while John Camm, Sea Doo distributor and an engineer also accompanied them and provided the 6 scooters.

“We drank the Champagne and then scootered back to the Neptune and set course back home. We covered  25.8 nautical miles which is 18.1 land miles.

“Then it was a long drive back home for bath and bed and just enjoy being Guinness World record holders,” said Heath.

 Heath, director of an on-line gaming and social media company, is ex-RAF and the rest of the team were “service related” making them ideal for the task.

Pete, who has regained his fitness and rejoined 101 City of London Engineer Regiment (Explosive Ordnance Disposal) in Essex, read about the record attempt in a dive magazine and was desperate to tag along as support crew, but found himself invited to be one of the team.

Pete’s convoy vehicle in Afghanistan was blown up by an improvised explosive device (IED) breaking his back and causing even more serious injuries to the driver, who had a leg amputated.

He has already cycled 68 miles to raise more than £500 for Help for Heroes and the team hope to raise more for the charity and the RNLI with their channel crossing.

Pete, a married man, was flown out of Camp Bastion and back to the UK within 24 hours of being injured, and has built himself up to full fitness, after having had surgically implanted metal rods removed from his back last October.

The team also owe thank to AP Valves, Otter Wetsuits, Weezle, APEKS and Aqua Lung for their support with diving equipment.

Heath can be contacted by email on or 07916 284990 with more details on or check the SSAC website

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