Ocean Rowing Roundup for January

Since our last roundup, the World’s Toughest Row nears its end, a second race has started, several crews have taken to the Atlantic Ocean, and a rower tragically lost his life.

Pete Beatty (UK): Beatty started his bid to cross the Atlantic on Dec. 13. He started in Portimao, Portugal, and aims to land in French Guyana.

If he finishes, Beatty will become the oldest man to solo row the Atlantic. After just over a month at sea, he has covered 780km.

Pete Beatty on his boat

Photo: Pete Beatty


Over the last few weeks, Beatty has been battling strong winds and waves. At the end of December, a large wave capsized his boat. Fortunately, it self-righted quickly. Since this scare, he has been hyper-vigilant, watching the waves so that he is not caught off guard again.

Despite the difficulties, Beatty is positive. His highlight has been the wildlife around his boat. On one occasion he had four whales within 15m.

Crippling winds

Oar Blimey (UK): George Nelson and Russell Davis are rowing from Portugal to Saint Martin. They set off on Dec. 1 and have covered just over 2,000km.

The row has been anything but easy. Neither of them has any prior rowing experience. Crippling winds have left them on para-anchor for days at a time. On the days when they can row, very little progress is made. On Jan. 15, after 15 hours of rowing, they had covered just 16km. They then immediately drifted backward when they stopped.

Russel Davies celebrates his 55th birthday.

Russell Davies celebrates his 55th birthday. Photo: Oar Blimey


Though they maintain a good pace on days with no wind, their timeline for finishing is ever extending. They have 58 days of food left, which will only be enough if they can get back to 60km per day. If that does not happen soon, they will have to ration their food.

Davies recently celebrated his 55th birthday. He opened cards packed by his family and cracked open a family-size packet of M&Ms.

Piotr Pawelec (PL): Pawelec is rowing from Portugal to Guadeloupe and has made a short pit stop in Gran Canaria.

He covered the first stage in 20 days, landing in Gran Canaria on Nov. 26. He spent a few weeks on the island getting supplies, resting, and making repairs.

Pawelec has shared few updates on his journey, but his tracker shows that he has covered 2,700km.

Piotr Pawelec in his boat

Photo: Piotr Pawelec


Around the world cycle/row

Louis Margot (CH): Margot is rowing and cycling around the world. After pedaling from Switzerland to Portugal, he is now partway through his first row. He started rowing on Oct. 9 but called it quits after five days because of poor weather.

Margot restarted on Nov. 6, rowing from Portimao, Portugal to Gran Canaria in 19 days. He is now going to Costa Rica and has paddled 2,800km.

As with everyone crossing the Atlantic, he has struggled with the wind. But Margot’s biggest challenge has been emotional and mental. During the many solo hours at sea (making slower progress than anticipated), the enormity of the challenge has dawned on him. Though he has no intention of stopping, he is questioning why he is doing it and how difficult a full circumnavigation will be.

Gabor Rakonczay (HU): After two attempts to standup paddleboard (SUP) across the Atlantic, Rakonczay is now partway through a row from Lagos, Portugal to the Canary Islands. He previously tried to make a journey by SUP in 2020 and 2021. Both attempts ended within a few days.

In 2020, he was on the water for three days before turning back when water penetrated his hull. In 2021, a helicopter rescued him after six days. His SUP did not have an enclosed sleeping area and Rakonczay strapped himself to the deck at night. After days without sleep, soaked to the skin and hallucinating, he had the urge to remove his life jacket and throw himself into the water. Luckily, he came to his senses, inflated his emergency life raft for shelter, and called for rescue.

Gabor Rakonczay on his SUP

Photo: Gabor Rakonczay


Rakonczay is now 24 days into his row and has covered 967km of the journey from Lagos, Portugal to the Canary Islands.

During the first few days, he struggled with shipping lanes, lack of sleep, and getting into his new daily routine. After six days, his body became accustomed to the new schedule and he has picked up the pace.

However, the wind has been almost constantly against him. “Out of the 24 days so far, I had three good days in total, the rest are windless, quarter, or defying. But there will be more like those three days,” he wrote on social media.

World’s Toughest Row

The World’s Toughest Row: The famous Atlantic race saw a fatality this year. Alistair Putt, part of the four-man crew Aussie Old Salts, suffered a cardiac arrest on deck. His crew was unable to resuscitate him.

The remaining 37 crews are nearing the finish line. Organizers expect to crown a winning crew today, after 35 days at sea. Five-man crew HMS Oardacious is well ahead of the pack and set to land between 8:00 and 10:00 am local time in Antigua on Jan. 17. The crew consists of Royal Navy Submariners, Matthew Main, Daniel Seager, Ian Allen, Micheal Forrester, and Rob Clarke. The team previously took part in the race in 2019 (when it was the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge).

HMS Oardacious.

HMS Oardacious. Photo: The World’s Toughest Row


Now, the battle is for second place. Team Out of the Blue should cross the finish line on Jan. 19, whilst team Four Brothers is 150km behind and billed to arrive on Jan. 20.

Current race statistics:

Leading: HMS Oardacious

Leading five: HMA Oardacious

Leading four: Team Out of the Blue

Leading three: Blue Tusk

Leading pair: Spirit of Hospitality

Leading soloist: The Entrepreneur Ship

The Atlantic Dash

The Atlantic Dash: Organizers state that The Atlantic Dash is “not designed to be a race. However, we are not your mum, if you want to be the first to Antigua, race on!”

Much smaller than The World’s Toughest Row, there are only three crews in this year’s event.

The teams set off from Lanzarote on Jan. 3 and will row 5,000km to Antigua. The biggest issue for these crews is a lack of wind. Whilst that might sound positive, it means there is almost no movement. All three crews are moving significantly more slowly than they anticipated, which can be demoralizing day after day.

The Atlantic Dash crews.

The Atlantic Dash crews. Photo: C-Map Atlantic Dash


The statistics so far:

The Brightsides: This four is in the lead. Rod Adlington, Anna Williams, Alex Perry, and Guy Minshull have covered 1,400km.

Atlantic Rocks: This four, consisting of Phil Angus, Gary Binns, Justin Wallace, and Dan Martin, is in second place. They have covered 1,040km

Destiny’s Tide: A two-man crew made up of Neil Glover and Jason Black. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the small crew is in third place. They have covered 950km.

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.