Ocean Rowing Roundup for August

Since our last roundup, one crew has set a new speed record across the Pacific and another has abandoned an attempt to circumnavigate Great Britain.

Pacific Ocean 

Latitude 35: Libby Costello, Sophia Denison-Johnston, Brooke Downes, and Adrienne Smith have bested the women’s time for rowing from California to Hawaii. The four women covered the 4,444km in 34 days, 14 hours, and 20 minutes. They broke the previous record, held by a foursome from the UK, by 12 hours.

At first, setting a record was not their priority. They simply wanted to go as fast as they could without sacrificing their well-being. But they were admittedly thrilled to have done so well. 

The entire time, they rowed in two-hour shifts.

“Our crossing was way more fun than any of us expected,” Downes said. “We had a speaker on deck that we would play most of the time. We would all jam out together and sing.”

All four women are athletes. Costello, Denison-Johnston, and Downes are competitive rowers, the latter two on an international level. Smith hadn’t rowed before but is a triathlete.

All four took on different roles within the team. Denison-Johnston was the skipper and medic, Costello was the technician, Downes took charge of navigation and nutrition, and Smith handled logistics.

Photo: TeamLatitude35


Throughout the row, they battled seasickness, exhaustion, salt sores, and storms. Yet the most emotional part of the journey was the last few hours.

“We kind of recognized it was the last time that we were going to have just the four of us, maybe ever,” Costello said as they finished. 

Solo Row 2 Hawaii: Carlo Facchino started his solo row from the Golden Gate Bridge to Hawaii on July 5. After 37 days at sea, he has covered 2,130km, the halfway point. He estimates that he will finish the last week of September. Facchino says that the first half of this route is usually more difficult than the second. “I’m hoping the second half speeds along with the trade winds,” he says.

He has faced ever-changing winds, a hurricane, and consistent rain at times. Then his watermaker cracked in three places. Using plastic bags and tubing, he managed to jury-rig a fix. He has also started rationing food. He had enough for 70 days but is now concerned he might go over this. 

This is not Facchino’s first time rowing an ocean. He took part in the Great Pacific Race in 2016 as part of a foursome. One of his teammates at the time was Cyril Derremaux, who is currently kayaking across the Pacific.

Photo: SoloOceanRower


Solo Kayak to Hawaii: Cyril Derreumaux is kayaking, not rowing, across the Pacific from California to Hawaii. He started on June 21 and reached the halfway point of his journey earlier today. He is paddling between 32 and 40km each day. But has also been drifting between 10 and 16 km a day when he is resting, often in the wrong direction. 

He is trying to emulate Ed Gillet’s famous solo kayak along the same route. As with Gillet, it now looks like the journey will take longer than expected, and food may become an issue. He had hoped to finish in 70 days and brought enough supplies for 80 days. But his pace has been slower than expected, and he has taken 49 days to reach this far.

Derreumaux is already rationing food. He joked that he still has plenty of toothpaste left, so if things get really bad, he’ll be able to complete the journey “Ed-Gillet style”. Gillet ran out of food and was nibbling toothpaste by the end of his epic.

Cyril Derreumaux. Photo: Tom Gomes


The kayaker has faced other problems besides a slow pace. Two weeks into the trip, the tubing that held the steering line disconnected and was letting water into the cabin. He woke up in a wet sleeping bag.

Derremaux has also battled sea sickness, contended with lots of ocean traffic, had to spend several days on the sea anchor, and has issues recharging his batteries.

Tom’s Pacific Journey: Tom Robinson is rowing from Lima, Peru to Australia in his handmade rowing boat. The 23-year-old both designed and built the Maiwar himself. He has split his journey into four stages: Lima to Tahiti, Tahiti to the Cook Islands, the Cook Islands to Tonga, and Tonga to Brisbane.

Robinson is currently in the midst of stage one. He has not provided any updates so far, but his tracker shows that he has covered 2,000km. If he completes the row, he will become the youngest person to row alone across the Pacific.

Atlantic Ocean 

Project Empower: Damien Browne is now in his eighth week at sea. This row from New York to Ireland began as a pair, but his partner had to leave in June because of a medical issue. 

In the first six weeks, three storms slowed his progress and pushed him off course. Since then, the weather has improved and his mileage has increased. On August 8, his tracking device stopped working, but his land team says that he is still moving. The saltwater has corrupted his charging unit, apparently. He has now rowed 3,990km. His biggest challenge at the moment is the persistent south wind.

Photo: projectempower2022


Riding the Gulf Stream: This trio is rowing across the North Atlantic from Florida to the Faroe Islands. Jakup Jacobsen (58), Edmund Berg (51), and Neil Blackeby (60) all have previous rowing experience. They had initially planned to row from New York but changed their route so that they could hitch a ride on the Gulf Stream.

They started the 7,500km journey on May 28 with a plan to finish in 70 days. But as with so many other rowers, headwinds and bad weather have slowed them down. So far, they have completed 68 percent of the distance. They estimate that they will arrive in the Faroe Islands on September 7.

Riding the Gulf Stream. Photo: https://fl-fo.com/our-journey/

Around the UK 

Emergensea Duo: Charlotte Fleury and Adam Baker abandoned their circumnavigation of Great Britain on July 31, after 71 days and 2,700km. The couple had to give up because of persistent bad weather around the UK coast that would halt progress for the foreseeable future.

Photo: EmergenseaDuo


Fleury and Baker began rowing two years ago when they signed up to do two of the world’s toughest rows. Earlier in the year, they completed the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge. In the last eight months, they have been at sea for 122 days. As practicing doctors, their time off has finally run out.

Both have lost a lot of weight over the course of their double challenge. Adam Baker has dropped 18kg and Charlotte Fleury has lost an astonishing 23kg.

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.