Ocean Rowing Round-Up

Oceans Rowing/canoeing
Guirec Soudée makes it out of unfavorable winds. Photo: @guirecsoudeeadventure

As lockdowns lift and restrictions ease, ocean rowers have been quick to restart their projects. There are currently 10 crews paddling their way across the Pacific and North Atlantic.

Pacific Ocean

Erden Eruc (TR)

Eruc departed on June 22 from Crescent City in the U.S. The ocean rowing legend, the first person to circumnavigate the world by human power, is solo rowing east to west across the Pacific in his vessel Calderdale – The Yorkshire Challenger. He estimates that the 11,000km row to Hong Kong will take 10 months.

Aong the way, he will collect sound data for The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). His boat features a high-frequency hydrophone to detect Beaked Whales along his route.

Eruc’s trip won’t end in Hong Kong. Once he reaches Asia, he will continue overland to Everest, which he hopes to climb in the autumn of 2022. 

Endurance Limits have reached the halfway point of their journey. Photo: @EnduranceLimits

Endurance Limits (UK)

Darren Clawson, Aaron Worbey, Simon Evans and Josh Tilts are rowing across the mid-Pacific from Monterey, California to Honolulu, Hawaii. They began their row on May 31 in their boat Elizabeth. Though their route is the same, they are not competing in the Great Pacific Race, but they had been hoping to set a new world record.

They are rowing one hour on and one hour off, 24 hours a day. They had aimed to complete the row in 39 days, but after 24 days at sea, they have just reached halfway. The journey has been “more tumultuous than expected”. During the first few weeks, they had to battle strong headwinds and huge waves. A few crew members have also had minor injuries. Evans has suffered from a seized tricep and shoulder, and Tilts has tendinitis in his wrist.

Great Pacific Race 

Since 2014, the Great Pacific Race has pitched itself as “one of the toughest races on earth”. Crews race across the mid-Pacific from San Francisco to Hawaii. All crews tackle the 4,400km route in identical boats and have to complete the race unassisted. Three crews are competing, all of whom have now been at sea for 24 days.

This is the fourth Great Pacific Race. This year, the route has changed slightly. Rather than starting in Monterey, California, they began in Sausalito, San Francisco Bay. The change is designed to harness favorable winds and currents that the organizers think will lead to a more exciting race.

Ocean Sheroes, day 23. Photo: @teamocensheroes

Ocean Sheroes (UK)

One of two all-female crews in the race. Bella Collins, Lily Lower, Purusha Gordon, and Mary Sutherland are currently second, with just over 1,500km to go. Ever positive, their latest update said: “We’ve settled into a rhythm on board, the two-hour night shifts don’t seem nearly as long as they did in the first week.”

Girls Who Dare

Victoria Anstey (UK), Jane Leonard (UK), and Orlagh Dempsey (IE) are struggling. The three-person crew are 1,700km behind the nearest team. Weather difficulties have compounded their slow start. They are caught in winds that other crews have missed. To make matters worse, the wind is pushing them back toward the mainland. 

Latitude 35

Between them, Jason Caldwell (US), Angus Watson (UK), Duncan Roy (UK), and Jordan Shuttleworth (UK) have crossed eight oceans. They don’t just want to win the race, they want to break the world record. They are leading and have just over 800km remaining.

North Atlantic Ocean

Guirec Soudée (FR)

Soudée is rowing solo, west to east across the North Atlantic. He set off on June 15 from Cape Cod, U.S., and will end his journey in Brest, France. Over the past few days, everyone in the North Atlantic has been caught up in storm Claudette. In his first update since emerging from the storm, he said: “I felt like I was riding a rodeo! The good news is that I’m finally heading in the right direction.”

Mark Delstanche (UK)

Delstanche is rowing west to east across the North Atlantic from New York to London. He set off on June 14 in his custom boat Square Peg. If he completes the 7,000km journey, he could be the first person in history to row this route. However, he’ll have some competition. Four other crews are attempting similar U.S. to UK routes.

The boat initially had a flywheel-powered, two-bladed propeller. It’s a similar system to those found on indoor rowing machines. Unfortunately, this was damaged beyond repair early on. Delstanche must now rely purely on oar power.

The ex-fireman and professional yachtsman hopes to complete the journey in 100 days but has enough supplies for five months.

Ocean Revival, day 20. Photo: @oceanrevival2020

Ocean Revival (UK)

Matt Mason, Ian Clinton, Simon Chalk and Jordan Swift are rowing from Brooklyn Bridge, U.S., to Tower Bridge, UK. The four Royal Marines are also making a bid to complete the first New York to London ocean row. They set off in No Great Shakes on May 31.

They have covered 36% of the route and are currently well ahead of the other crews attempting a U.S. to UK row.

Ian Rivers (UK)

The third crew attempting a U.S. to UK crossing, Rivers left New York on May 31. He is aiming to row solo to St. Marys on the Isle of Scilly (UK) in his boat Sentinel. From his time in the Special Forces, he is well versed in navigation. These skills were truly put to the test in 2013 when he was kidnapped in Syria. After his release, he had to solo navigate his way to safety “using only natural indicators”. Since then, he has become a trained mountain guide and ocean yacht master.

Despite capsizing yesterday, he is feeling positive about the expedition: “Schoolboy error on my part deploying the para-anchor… it caught when a huge wave broke. Sentinel went on her roof and I went for a swim.” One of his compartments was flooded and his ribs are sore. He says there have been no serious injures, “except my pride –- [storm] Claudette is a ball out here!”

Ian Rivers and Captain Paddles have survived capsizing. Photo: @rowsentinel

David Bell (UK)

Bell left New York in his boat, Billy No Mates, on May 31. As with most other North Atlantic rows this season, he is rowing west to east from the U.S. to the UK. However, Bell plans to end in Falmouth. He too has been caught in tropical storm Claudette. There have been gusts of up to 52 knots, which are now pushing him away from the UK.

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About the Author

Rebecca McPhee

Rebecca is a freelance writer and science teacher based in the UK.

She is a keen traveler and has been lucky enough to backpack her way around Africa, South America, and Asia. With a background in marine biology, she is interested in everything to do with the oceans and aims to dive and open-water swim in as many seas as possible.

Her areas of expertise include open water sports, marine wildlife and adventure travel.

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