Ocean Rowing Roundup for April

Since our last ocean rowing round-up, several crews have completed ocean crossings, Michelle Lee became the first woman to row the Pacific solo, and Guadeloupe Favre broke an Atlantic record, crossing for the eighth time.

Pacific Ocean

Michelle’s Pacific Row: On April 4, Michelle Lee (AU) became the first woman to row alone across the Pacific Ocean. Over 237 days, she battled her way 14,000km from Ensenada, Mexico to North Queensland, Sydney.

The journey was incredibly difficult. Lee expected to finish at the end of February but conditions made that impossible. She faced five hurricanes and four cyclones and spent over a week locked in her cabin, unable to row. At times, it felt like everything was against her: strong winds, currents, and waves. In the end, she had to move her finish line by 58km because of the weather.

Though she had low moments, Lee felt privileged: “You’re just experiencing and witnessing Mother Nature in all her runway-ready, take-me-as-I-am natural beauty,” she explained. “Some days, she’s better than others and she certainly puts you through your paces,” she told Women’s Agenda.

Despite the weather, one of the greatest difficulties was eight months of solitude. Lee listened to several audiobooks and played her ukulele to pass the time. She also reveled in the nature around her.

Once, two sharks followed her for several weeks. Later, four baby sharks swam beneath her boat. “I am the creche. It’s very cute. Everyone is in harmony with each other,” she wrote via her tracker.

Michelle Lee completes her row.

Michelle Lee. Photo: Different Worlds-Michelle Million Metre Row


This is not Lee’s first ocean row. In 2019, she became the first Australian woman to row solo across the Atlantic.

Next, she is planning another endurance challenge, this time on dry land. Just a month after arriving back in Australia, Lee is heading to Spain to begin a 1,000km hike on the Camino de Santiago.

“Say ‘yes’. Work the details out later. I’m excited for what’s to come,” Lee said after finishing.

Tom’s Pacific Row: Tom Robinson (AU) restarted his row across the Pacific on April 14. He initially set off from Lima, Peru, and plans to row to Australia. In December, after 160 days and 9,260km, he stopped in Penrhyn, the Cook Islands.

He has been waiting out the cyclone season on the picturesque island, restocking and repairing his homemade boat. Robinson remains unsure how long his next stage will be. He can either row 5,560km to Brisbane, 2,250km to Fiji, or 1,600km to Samoa. He will make his decision based on the winds and currents once he is on the water.

Robinson has stocked his boat with enough supplies to make it to Australia but would like to stop along the way and experience some of the other islands.

Atlantic Ocean

Row for Amy: Andrew Osbourne (UK) completed his 4,870km solo row across the Atlantic on March 27. He began in Gran Canaria and made it to Antigua after 78 days and 10 hours.

Osbourne was rowing in memory of his daughter Amy. Amy died in her sleep five years ago from an undiagnosed heart condition. “It is the honor and privilege of a lifetime to be able to raise this support and awareness in memory of Amy,” he told the BBC.

Initially, he was going to sail to Antigua, but he decided to row to increase the challenge. Ex-Olympic rower James Cracknell coached him.

Andrew Osbourne arrives in Antigua.

Andrew Osbourne arrives in Antigua. Photo: BBC


Despite all the expert training, Osbourne said that this was one of the most difficult experiences of his life. For the first three days, he was extremely seasick and unable to eat. He then had issues with both his satellite and auto helm. Then he capsized once and battled incredibly changeable weather. Storms and huge waves forced him to stop rowing and spend days on his para-anchor, only for the weather to flip, with water that was so flat and calm that he barely moved.

Speaking after the row, he told The Independent that “despite the challenge, each painstaking mile has been worth it.”

Rame Ocean 2023: The six-man crew has finished their 4,600km row from Spain to Guadeloupe. Patrick Favre (FR), Louis Pellet (FR), Dominique Pape (FR), Christophe Huguet (FR), Jerome Caudoux (FR), and Liu Yong (CN) started their journey on January 30. When they reached Guadeloupe, Favre became the first person to row across the Atlantic eight times.

Calm water was one of their biggest challenges. The crew changed to a more southerly route to avoid storms, but the water became so flat, with such little wind, that they were barely moving.

Jari Saario: Jari Saario of Finland paused his two-way crossing of the Atlantic on March 28 in Antigua. He initially planned on rowing from the Canary Islands to Miami but has stopped for safety reasons. His boat suffered electrical issues that affected his GPS and communication equipment.

As he approached Antigua, Saario and his team started to worry. The winds were so strong that he was in danger of being pushed off course. This was a huge concern as his boat required repair work. When he eventually arrived in Antigua, Saario was struggling. He couldn’t remember sections of the previous few days.

Saario still wants to cross the ocean both ways, but for now, he has returned to Finland. He hopes to restart his journey on June 24. He will transport his boat to Newfoundland, Canada, and then row 7,000km back to Helsinki.

Simon Howes: Simon Howes (UK) has completed his 4,900km row across the Atlantic. He launched from Gran Canaria in the Canary Islands on January 16 and finished in St. Lucia on March 29.

Howes provided very few updates during his journey but spoke about his experience after finishing his row. He faced several storms and 12-meter waves and capsized twice. One storm snapped an oar and smashed the hatches on his deck. Water flooded into the boat and ruined some of his food supplies. He was “hanging on for grim life to the rails. It was a bit scary,” he told media in St Lucia.

At age 67, he is the third oldest person to cross the Atlantic and may be the only person to complete this specific route in the last 25 years.

Howes first tried to cross the Atlantic in 2021 as part of the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge. He pulled out of the race after slipping on the deck and injuring his ankle.

Simon Howes and his family in St. Lucia

Simon Howes and his family in St. Lucia. Photo: Saint Lucia Tourism Authority


Aurimas Valujavicus: Aurimas Valujavicus (LT) is just days away from finishing his 9,000km row from Spain to Miami. He has covered 97 percent of the distance and hopes to land this Sunday.

A big day came on April 4: his 100th day on the ocean. On social media, he wrote that “although I still feel that I’m getting weak physically, mentally I’m getting stronger every day. The goal is clear, and to reach it, you have to be consistent in your work. That’s why it’s important to love and enjoy the process.”

But Valujavicus admits that there have been several incredibly hard days. As with most Atlantic crossings, he faced high winds and big waves. Last week, conditions were so bad that one of his oars snapped in two. Throughout the trip, he documented the state of his ever-blistering hands.

Atlantic Escapade: After 46 days, 22 hours, and 30 minutes of rowing, Andy Hodgson and Rosalind Chasten (UK) completed their 4,800km row from Gran Canaria to Barbados.

The row got off to a tumultuous start. Seasickness tablets caused Hodgson to suffer from temporary blindness. Nevertheless, they made good progress before a long stretch of very calm water. Soon after, their GPS broke and they had to stop completely for a few days to fix it.

The final moments of their row were particularly tricky. Waves made navigating the reefs around the island difficult, and getting to the harbor proved extremely stressful.

Atlantic Escapades complete their row.

Atlantic Escapades complete their row. Photo: Atlantic Escapades


During the day, the duo rowed for three hours and then had a one-hour break. At night, they changed to two hours on and two hours off to allow for more sleep. Time off “consisted of a race to close your eyes and steal as much sleep as you could manage before the dreaded beep of the alarm,” Chasten wrote in their blog.

They have found returning to dry land quite overwhelming: “The sights, sounds, and smells of Barbados are incredible, but after so long at sea, they can sometimes be a bit of an assault on the senses. We have both been walking (and stumbling) around in a bit of a daze,” they wrote.

Rebecca McPhee

Rebecca McPhee is a freelance writer for ExplorersWeb.

Rebecca has been writing about open water sports, adventure travel, and marine science for three years. Prior to that, Rebecca worked as an Editorial Assistant at Taylor and Francis, and a Wildlife Officer for ORCA.

Based in the UK Rebecca is a science teacher and volunteers for a number of marine charities. She enjoys open water swimming, hiking, diving, and traveling.