Paddling his kayak 75 grueling days, at a cost of 42 pounds, Peter Bray made transatlantic history
Peter Bray paddled and paddled, more wearily than merrily, from June 23 until Sept 5. When he made landfall in Ireland, Bray became the first person to cross the Atlantic in a kayak. After setting out from Newfoundland in his 24-foot craft, the 44-year-old college lecturer lost radio power, 42 pounds and, occasionally, his way during a stormy 3,200-mile crossing that made him feel, in his words, like "a toad in a tumble dryer." Says Bray, "I went all over the place with the weather, north, south, south, north. It was soul-destroying when I was told that I had gone backward 60 miles in one night."
The voyage was Bray's second attempt at traversing the Atlantic. Last summer, less than 30 hours after he had set off from St John's, his boat capsized, and he clung to a life raft in the freezing North Atlantic before rescuers arrived 31 hours later. A native of Newport, Wales, and a former soldier in the British army's Special Air Service Boat Troop, Bray says his military training is the reason he survived.
On his latest trip, sharks, supertankers and, as one friend put it, the very real possibility that he could "disappear without a trace" were but a few of the perils he faced. Even his landing went awry. As his mother, his girlfriend and a party of well-wishers waited for him in a thick fog in Killybegs, Bray was carried by the current 60 miles down the coast, where he washed ashore at the tiny village of Porturlin. "There was nobody about," he says. "Then two guys came out of a house, and I shouted at them. They thought I was a bit odd. They saw this strange-looking guy arriving in a weird boat, and then he falls over. And I hadn't even had any alcohol."
After a spot of tea with the lads, both of them fishermen, Bray telephoned a support crew, which dispatched a helicopter to carry him to his awaiting party, with whom he hoisted a few pints. Safely in the Auld Sod, a little older, a little more sodden, Bray reaffirmed his pledge to use his newfound fame as a vehicle to raise �100,000 (about $150,000) for children's hospices. As for his own reward? Well, he's not going to Disney World. Says Bray's girlfriend, Maria Newton, gleefully, "We're going kayaking in Ecuador!"
Diana Golden Brosnihan 1963-2001
When she persuaded the U.S. Ski Association in 1985 to allow disabled skiers to compete in USSA-sanctioned events, Diana Golden Brosnihan had no illusions about defeating her able-bodied opponents. She simply wanted, as her citation in the Women's Sports Foundation Hall of Fame reads, "the ski world to treat all athletes the same, regardless of ability, or in her case, disability." Brosnihan, who lost her right leg to bone cancer at age 12, hated the "courageous" label that was often affixed to disabled athletes.
"That word is my pet peeve," Brosnihan told SI in 1990. "It belittles our ability—to pass off what we do as courageous. I never wanted to be thought of as just having courage. I wanted to be recognized as a top-notch athlete."
Brosnihan, who succumbed to cancer on Aug. 25 at age 38, was certainly that. In addition to her 10 world and 19 national championships between 1986 and '90, the Massachusetts native won a gold medal in the disabled skiing competition at the '88 Winter Olympics in Calgary. Shortly after her retirement from competitive skiing in '90, she became an ardent rock climber, scaling 14,411-foot Mount Rainier. But until her death, her most avid pursuit was changing perceptions of the disabled. "Think about women," she said, "people used to pat us on the back and say, 'Isn't that sweet? She's competing.' Now they don't do that anymore. It's the same with the disabled. People treat us with dignity."