Worlds Toughest Row: Former Australian spy Alisdair Putt dies after embarking on charity rowing race

A former Australian spy has died of a suspected heart attack while competing in a gruelling rowing race.

Alisdair Putt was participating in the World’s Toughest Row to raise money for returning veterans and Indigenous women in Western Australia’s Kimberley region.

The 62-year-old was three weeks into the 4800km rowing race across the Atlantic when he suffered what is believed to be a cardiac-related event while on deck, a race spokesperson said on Thursday.

“It is with heartfelt sadness that we must convey the news of the death of Alisdair Putt – skipper of the four-person team, Aussie Old Salts,” World’s Toughest Row confirmed in a statement.

“Despite the rest of the crew’s continuous efforts, resuscitation was not successful.

“We are in constant contact with the crew, all emergency contacts, as well as the Marine Rescue Coordination Centres involved, and will continue to support all involved.

“The crew are now safely onboard a vessel heading for land.”

Mr Putt was joined by a team of retired and current military servicemen, aged 40 and above, for the trip from the Canary Islands to the Caribbean’s Antigua.

Mr Putt was remembered as a “gentleman and man with spirit and humour” by those who knew him.

“Alisdair was such a character — spent a week with him on Roxy and loved it. Such a shock,” professional rower and yacht master Lara Vafiadis wrote on social media.

“Was fortunate enough to meet Alisdair at the start in La Gomera, he was going to sleep on the rowing boat the night before they set off before I offered him my spare room … what a truly kind soul and the spirit of an adventurer,” another person wrote.

The 37 other teams in the event have continued on despite the “profound impact” of the tragedy.

The teams are concentrated around the centre of the race, led by the HMS Oardacious.

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