The 46-year-old, from Ballydehob in West Cork, was yesterday forced to abandon what would have been his fourth attempt to swim the gruelling Tsugaru Strait in Japan, the last channel on his list, because of bad weather.
With conditions unlikely to improve in the coming days, it means frustrated Steve — whose third attempt to cross the treacherous 27km channel was derailed at the halfway stage by strong currents earlier this week — will once again have to postpone his record-breaking swim.
To add to his woes, two other competitors are hot on his heels to become the first to complete the epic challenge, including American athlete, Darren Miller, who last Thursday completed the same crossing between the islands of Hokkaido and Honshu, while Steve was recuperating after his failed attempt.
And the crippling expenses, including flights to Japan and the huge costs of hiring a skipper and crew, mean the father of two will need to secure a sponsor to fund any future attempt.
His spokeswoman Christine Duggan said yesterday: “It’s bad news, it’s terrible really because Steve has been so unlucky.
“He was supposed to set off on his fourth attempt tonight, but was advised not to by his skipper because the weather is very bad.
“The winds are very strong at the moment, so it would be too dangerous to swim in those currents,” she said.
“It’s looking more than likely at this stage that he’ll have to come back home without even getting the chance to have another attempt.
“Unless there’s a big change in the weather over the next day or two, he’ll be back in Cork early next week.”
Ms Duggan said Steve, who has spent the past three years undertaking the Seven Oceans challenge, feels cursed as only once before, in Hawaii, has he had to pull out of a swim when strong currents forced him to abandon his first attempt.
She said: “He pulled out of his swim in Hawaii at the first attempt, but went back and completed it soon afterwards and every other swim has gone without a hitch.”
She added: “It’s getting very expensive to keep having to return to Japan and cover all the expenses involved, but we can’t give up at this stage.
“He is so close and if he can’t complete the swim in the next day or two, we’ll have to look at getting a sponsor to help us out.
“But he’s come so far now, he’s not going to give up. There will be another trip back to Japan.”