Ocean Rowing Roundup for April

Since our last Ocean Rowing Roundup, one man has paused his row, several crews have finished, and a few have set records.

Atlantic Ocean

United We Conquer – Jack Jarvis (UK) has become the first person to row from mainland Europe to North America non-stop. He set off from Lagos, Portugal on December 3 and arrived in South Florida on March 24. He is the only documented person to attempt this route across the Atlantic.

Over 111 days, he covered 8,334km. He told the BBC after landing: “I’m on Cloud Nine right now…to have achieved what I set out to do is amazing and it makes all those hard days at sea, missing family and friends, worthwhile.”

Photo: Jack Jarvis

 

He averaged 15 hours of rowing and just four hours of sleep a day. Surviving on freeze-dried food and a few treats that he rationed to last the journey, the British soldier lost 10kg. A lack of sleep and limited food were not the only challenges. Many storms hit him and he spent several days on his para-anchor, unable to row.

Sea Change Sport Victoria Evans (UK) shattered the female speed record for rowing across the Atlantic. She covered the 4,900km from Tenerife to Barbados in 40 days, 21 hours, 1 minute. She cut nine days off the previous record held by Kiko Matthews.

Photo: SeaChangeSport

 

Back on dry land, she said, “I knew it was going to be hard, but my word, it was a real test.”

She had a tumultuous relationship with the wind throughout. Initially, it pushed her in the right direction but she was accelerating so fast down the big tailing waves that she felt unsafe. Her land team even recommended that she put out a drogue (a trailing device that slows your boat) because they thought it was too dangerous. Evans wanted the speed record and decided against it. Weeks later, the wind changed and pushed her north as she desperately tried to row south.

Photo: SeaChangeSport

 

Low point

Her lowest point came when her cabin somehow became locked from the inside. She spent hours sawing through the handle and a metal pin holding the door shut. “Sawing through the handle and the metal pin in the middle of the ocean thinking, ‘This has to work, my life raft and battery are in there, my steering is in there,’ when you’re already tired…that’s a lot,” she said.

Forget Me Knot – The three-man crew of Dirk Von Delft (ZA), Johnnie Ball (UK), and Stefan Vine (UK) completed their row from Portugal to French Guiana on March 30. They covered the 5,700km journey in 63 days, 19 hours, and 17 minutes. They are currently awaiting adjudication from Guinness to find out if they are the first trio to row from mainland Europe to mainland South America non-stop.

Photo: ForgetMeKnotRow

 

Rowing as weight loss program

At first, bad weather plagued them. This did improve, but constant winds accompanied them across the Atlantic. All three men had only started rowing to take on this specific challenge. After 63 days, the effects on their bodies were substantial. They gained multiple blisters and some substantial beards but lost 35kg between them. Delft lost 6kg, Ball lost 12kg, and Vine lost a staggering 17kg.

Photo: ForgetMeKnotRow

 

They arrived on March 30 but were not able to leave the marina until the following day, as there were no customs agents there until April 1. They have even struggled to walk back on dry land. In the first few days, their legs gave way at any slight imbalance, they told the BBC.

Rame Océan – Patrick Favre (FR) and Matt Dawson (US) completed their row from Restinga Del Hierro, Spain, to Ilet du Gosier in Guadeloupe on March 25. It took the pair 53 days, 3 hours, and 30 minutes to cover the 4,640km distance. When they landed, Favre became the first person to cross the Atlantic from east to west seven times.

Photo: @rameocean

 

The pair initially struggled from intense heat and lack of wind. After a few weeks, the winds picked up and they picked up their pace. The final 500km of the journey involved rough seas, as the wind speed climbed.

Team Neal Marsh – Ralph Tuijn (NL), Kevin O’Farrell (IE), Robert Collins (IE), and Simon van der Hoek (NL) are rowing from Portugal to French Guiana. Following the sudden death of fellow ocean rower and friend Neal Marsh, they renamed their team and boat in tribute to him.

Photo: @ralph.tuijn.9

 

The four set off on April 6 and covered 140km in the first two days. They plan to row in shifts of two hours. Though all members have rowed before, one member has a wealth of knowledge when it comes to ocean rowing: Tujin is one of Holland’s foremost ocean rowers. This will be his 11th ocean crossing. He rowed the Atlantic with Marsh in 2018.

Pacific Ocean 

Erden Eruç – Eruç set off from California on October 6. He split his row into three stages: California to Hawaii, Hawaii to Guam, and Guam to the Philippines. His final goal is Hong Kong.

When Eruç made landfall in the Philippines on March 24, he became the first known person to row from the U.S. to Asia. He had planned to pause in Singapore, but coming adverse weather forced him to hurry to the Philippines. A flotilla of local kayakers and sailors met him as he arrived.

He now plans to store his boat until February 2023. Then he will relaunch on the South China Sea and head for Hong Kong. One of his biggest challenges in the Philippines was arranging to store his boat. It currently has a basic cover over it to protect it from the elements. Before he leaves, he will arrange to have a shed built over it for protection until he returns.

Photo: Erden Eruc

Rowing and Cycling

Zerow-Emission – Julen Sanchez is rowing from Portugal to Miami as part of a larger project. He began in Paris and cycled 1,800km to Portugal. He is now rowing 7,500km to Miami. There, he will cycle 2,500km to Pittsburgh. He aims to complete a zero-emission journey from Europe to America.

Sanchez began the second stage of his project on November 29. After 13 days of rowing, he reached his first waypoint, El Hierro in the Canary Islands. He had to pause here to make minor repairs after a large storm. He then restarted on December 24.

Updates on the later part of his journey have been sporadic. He lost his third and final phone on February 9. Since then he has been sending updates through passing vessels. In his latest messages, he informed his family that he is now heading for Freeport, in the Bahamas. He should arrive in the next day or two, but it is unclear if he plans to continue to Miami after this.

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.

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