Bromham engineer Chris Todd says he is heartbroken after his attempt to “walk” across the Irish Sea in a giant hamster wheel at the weekend came to grief almost halfway across.
Mr Todd, 35, from Yard Lane, Bromham, left on Sunday from Treaddur Bay, near Holyhead on Anglesey, on the 66-mile trip across the Irish Sea to Greystones near Dublin using his home-made Tredalo, which resembles a huge treadmill.
He had planned to make the crossing some time during October and a window of calm, mild weather made last weekend an ideal opportunity.
He was making excellent time, reducing the estimated 48-hour voyage to a little over a day. After nine hours of walking he was nearly halfway across when disaster overtook him.
Mr Todd said: “The waves were coming in from the side and the rudders weren’t strong enough to cope with that, so they broke.
“We decided to stop there and try again another time but halfway back to Wales the Tredalo broke up and sank while it was being towed. I am devastated. I feel worse about it now than I did at the time, mainly because we won’t be making as much money for the charities as we had expected.”
Mr Todd was hoping to raise £20,000 to be split between the Wiltshire Blind Association and the Royal National Lifeboat Institution, who had helped him with a risk assessment for the attempt.
Mr Todd said: “I don’t think I will rebuild the Tredalo. I’m sure there are much better ways to raise money for charity than that. The interest that’s been created for it has been tremendous but it hasn’t translated into donations to the charities.”
The Tredalo attempt was the latest endurance challenge that Mr Todd, a flight test engineer for defence manufacturer Qinetiq, had undertaken for charity. He raised cash for the Wiltshire Blind Association in 2009 by taking part in the gruelling 352-mile 6633 Ultra Marathon Arctic Race in Canada and, the year before, finished second in a 140-mile run across the Gobi desert.
The idea for building the Tredalo came while he was crossing a Swiss lake on an inflatable rubber duck. He designed and built the giant hamster wheel at his Bromham home and tested it on Coate Water, near Swindon, before taking to the Irish Sea last Sunday.
Anyone who would like to contribute to Mr Todd’s charity effort can still do so at www.IrishSeaCrossing.co.uk