After losing his right leg below the knee whilst helping at a scene of an accident on the M3 motorway and before his first Atlantic Row, Lee Spencer believed that the person he was, someone who defined himself by physicality, had gone forever. He believed that he would have to redefine who he was, but within the parameters of disability.
Rowing across the Atlantic with a Row2Recovery, a team of 3 other military amputees made Lee realise that he was the same person as before he lost his leg. He realised that not only was he wrong to define himself by his disability, but that we as a society are wrong when we define any disabled person by their disability.
In 2017 Lee Spencer set out on his mission to row solo and unsupported from mainland Europe to mainland South America hoping to beat the able bodied record set in 2002 by Stein Hoff from Norway of 96 days, 12 hours and 45 minutes. In doing so Lee would prove that no one should be defined by disability and so was born The Rowing Marine.
After 18 months of planning, hard training and countless business meetings with sponsors, Lee finally got his boat, Hope, in the water ready to go and set the start date for the row for the 18th of January 2018 from Ocean Village in Gibraltar. Unfortunately 3 days before the start, Lees mum was taken severely ill and died whilst he was in the air flying back to the UK to be with her.
After a years postponement, Lee was back in Gibraltar in December 2018 ready to start the row. He patiently waited throughout the whole of December hoping for a weather window that would allow him to row out of the Straits of Gibraltar that never came. Again he had to postpone the row until January 2019.
Finally, after years of planning, training and setback after setback, on the 9th of January 2019, Lee Spencer The Rowing Marine set off from Portimao, Portugal on his epic transatlantic ocean row.
At 6 minutes past one in the morning local time on the 11th of March 2019, Lee crossed the finish line in the Mahury River near Cayenne in French Guiana. He had rowed from Portimao, Portugal in mainland Europe to Cayenne, French Guiana in South America in 60 days, 16 hours and six minutes and into the record books. Lee Spencer the Rowing Marine had smashed the previous able bodied record by an astonishing 36 days, proving that nobody should be defined by disability.
During his gruelling record breaking row, Lee had battled 50ft waves, sleep deprivation, a bout of gastro-enteritis and twice a complete navigation system breakdown. He had lost over 3 stone in weight by the time he had finished and was personally congratulated by HRH The Duke os Sussex Prince Harry.
Lee Spencer broke the able bodied world record for rowing solo and unsupported across the Atlantic Ocean from mainland Europe to mainland South America and also gained 2 further Guinness World Records to add to his first.
Lee is the current holder of 4 Guinness World Records. As part of the Worlds first physically disabled team of 4 to row any ocean, the longest solo row by a physically disabled person, the first amputee and physically disabled person to row an ocean solo from continent to continent and the fastest solo row from Europe to South America.
Lee also features in the 2020 edition of the Guinness Book of Records.