Madcap and eccentric... a big hand for the record-breakers!

Strange record attempts are taking place all the time. Trevor Laffan recalls some of the wacky ones in his weekly column
Madcap and eccentric... a big hand for the record-breakers!

Sean Murray, of Skibbereen, celebrates setting a world record, after unclasping the most bras in a minute, in 2013

PLEASE don’t judge me, but in a moment of weakness recently, I watched an episode of Britain’s Got Talent.

In my defence, there was some drink involved, and as this excuse is regularly accepted as an explanation for wrongdoing in the courts, it should be good enough for me. I can only promise to do better in future.

Anyway, they had a guy on the show who was hoping to gain entry into the Guinness World Records (GWR). It was previously known as the Guinness Book Of Records, but changed its name in 1999.

This man stood there with a serious expression on his face, with a female assistant by his side, along with an official from GWR to oversee the attempt and to make sure it was all above board. Exciting stuff in prospect then, as he told us what he was going to do.

He announced to the hushed audience that he was going to smash 100 coconuts with his hand in one minute. 

Tension was mounting as he prepared himself and, as soon as he got the go-ahead, he started pounding the coconuts with his fist.

He flattened some, missed others, and sent bits of coconut flying in all directions. It seemed like a daft idea from the outset, and that’s exactly what it turned out to be.

When the time was up, his attempt was deemed a failure. No surprise there.

This guy wasn’t even close to the record because he barely made it half-way through the line of coconuts. He did succeed in creating an almighty mess on the stage though, which only confirmed that the whole thing was completely pointless.

I couldn’t understand how he even came up with this madcap idea, but I’ve since discovered he’s not alone. 

Strange record attempts like this are taking place all the time.

The website,, lists some odd Guinness World Records that have been attempted. For instance, take this guy Josef Tödtling from Austria. He set an extreme Guinness World Record for being pulled by a horse while his body was on fire. He was dragged for 500 metres and, during the act, there was a car travelling beside him with someone pouring oil over his body to make sure the fire didn’t go out.

That was in 2015, and after setting that world record, Josef tried the same act with a quad bike and set another record. This time, he was pulled for 582 metres, and entered the record books again for being the person pulled by a vehicle for the longest distance while on fire.

We have all used drinking straws at one point and, I would bet, most of us never wondered how many of them we could fit in our mouths at the same time, but one person did.

A record for the most drinking straws stuffed into the mouth was set by a guy from the UK, who managed to squeeze 400 straws between his teeth. 

He held them there for 10 seconds and is the only person in the record books to achieve this.

I regularly have peas with my dinner, but whenever one falls off the plate, it never enters my mind to see how far I could blow it across the table.

I’m obviously lacking imagination, because I never thought of pea blowing as being worthy of note, but Germany’s Andre Ortolf did. He puffed the pea to a distance of 24ft 7.66 inches and created a new world record.

If you want to beat that, just find a plain, smooth surface and a standard-sized pea and, using the same technique used to blow out birthday candles, blow the pea away as far as you can. 

And if this kind of thing floats your boat, I feel sorry you.

Another guy set a world record for completing the most rotations while hanging from a power drill in a minute. The drill was anchored to the ceiling and the German held onto the handle of the drill while his feet were off the ground.

He achieved 148 rotations on the set of Guinness World Records in December, 2003.

The sport of weightlifting has been around for many years, but this next world record took the activity to a whole new level.

In 2008, Thomas Blackthorne from the UK managed to lift an impressive 12.5kg (27 lb 9 oz) using only his tongue. The weight alone was impressive, but he attached the weight to a hook and pierced it through his tongue to achieve the record. My head hurts just thinking about that.

There is another record I imagine Joey Tribbiani from Friends would be proud of, and it’s held by an Irishman. The Irish Examiner reported in 2013, that a Corkman entered the record books for the most bras unhooked in one minute.

As a fund-raiser for a breast cancer charity, Sean Murray, from Skibbereen, turned his talents to the kind of challenge most men can only dream of - unclasping as many bras as possible in one minute.

To practise for the world record attempt, Sean enlisted the help of a couple of female staff members and nine mannequins. The shop was closed for a spell most mornings to facilitate “staff training”.

“We lined up the nine mannequins and some of the female staff stripped down to their bras and I practised on them, with one of the male staff doing the time-keeping,” he explained. 

“It was a good team-building exercise,” he added, tongue in cheek.

The practise paid off and Sean succeeded in unclasping 91 double hooked bras with one hand, breaking the previous world record of opening 69 bras in 60 seconds.

To assist him, 56 volunteers took part, mostly women.

After the event, he said: “I would like to thank Playtex for their support, quite literally.”

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