Ocean Rowing Roundup for July

Since our last update, there have been four rescues, one medical evacuation, and one new speed record.

Pacific Ocean

Tom’s Pacific Journey: Tom Robinson is rowing solo from east to west across the South Pacific. The 23-year-old began in Lima on July 2 and is attempting to row to his native Australia. So far, he has covered 640km.

If he succeeds, Robinson will be the youngest person to row alone across the Pacific. He is planning to row for 10 hours a day, and to divide his journey row into four big legs: Lima to Tahiti, Tahiti to the Cook Islands, the Cook Islands to Tonga, and Tonga to Brisbane. Unlike most rowers, he is using a 7.3m vessel that he designed and built himself.



Robinson did not get off to a smooth start. He waited in Peru for over a month for his boat to arrive. When it did arrive, complicated customs paperwork delayed him further. It has cost him almost $15,000 to transport the boat and get the appropriate documentation. Finally, he had to wait for naval authorities to authorize his exit.

Solo Kayak to Hawaii: Cyril Derreumaux is kayaking, not rowing, alone across the Pacific from California to Hawaii. He started on June 21 and has paddled 685km so far — almost one-quarter of the way across. This is his second attempt at the challenge. Last year, he required rescue because of bad weather and boat damage.

Backlit kayaker in sunny Pacific

Photo: Facebook/CyrilDerreumauxAdventure


After three weeks at sea, he says, “I am more in awe of Ed Gillet and what he has accomplished.” In1987, Gillet became the first to kayak from California to Hawaii, using an off-the-shelf kayak. He was the inspiration for Derreumaux’s journey.

Though Derreumaux has made good progress, it has not been without difficulty. In early July, winds pushed him in the wrong direction. It was more of a struggle not to lose distance than to make progress. Swells made him seasick, and he felt very weak. Despite this, he is in good spirits, and his body is holding up.


Project Empower: The Irish pair of Damien Browne and Fergus Farrell started their row from Manhattan to Ireland on June 14. Just 12 days later, Fergus left the boat because of a medical issue. Browne has decided to continue alone. So far, he has covered 1,316km, though not all in the direction of Ireland.

The pair pass the Statue of Liberty before Farrell was evacuated

The pair pass the Statue of Liberty before Farrell was evacuated. Photo: projectempower2022


Over the first nine days, southerly winds and low-pressure systems hit the pair as they tried to battle their way into the Gulf Stream’s current.

Then on June 28, Farrell was evacuated with exhaustion, low blood oxygen percentages, and tightness in his chest. A Singapore tanker responded to the emergency calls, and four hours later, Farrell boarded the tanker. He continue with them for two days until they docked in New York. He then went to the hospital.

A reddish tanker, with their boat beside

Farrell transfers onto the tanker. Photo: projectempower2022


Browne, now alone, admits that “There is lots going on emotionally. It’s a big adjustment.”

He is also rowing into slow and difficult conditions that he now faces alone. When he stops for a short break, the wind blows him backward.

The Black Sea

A four-person team has broken the speed record for rowing across the Black Sea. The British-Romanian team of Danny Longman, Roland Burr, Alex Dumbrava, and Gregg Botterman covered the 1,200km in nine days and 18 hours. This was 38 hours quicker than the previous record.

The team set off from Mangalia, Romania and landed in Batumi, Georgia. The entire time, the team rowed in shifts of two hours on and two hours off. “It’s very much a mental game with these endurance events,” Longman told the BBC. “But everyone got stuck in and did really well.”

The Black Sea crew poses on a dock

Photo: TodayYouCanDoAnything


Though they faced unfavorable winds and some battled sea sickness in the early days, the journey went fairly smoothly. One of the hardest parts, they admitted, was starting in the first place. The group started training four years ago. They had planned to do the row, in 2020 but the pandemic forced a long delay.

Around Great Britain

Albatross: The mixed six is made up of event owner William de Laszlo, ex-Olympic rower Andrew Triggs Hodge, Kat Bruce, Ed Russell, Darren Saunders, and Albert Farrent. Originally, they were one of three crews taking part in the GB Row Challenge event, but they are now the only ones left on the water.

The lone crew still rowing the event around Britain.

Photo: @albatross.gbrow


All three crews had to be rescued between June 25-26 because of unseasonal storms in the Irish Sea. Days later, Albatross and SeaLegs restarted, but on July 5, Team SeaLegs had to be rescued for a second time, with “eight-metre swells and 30+ knot winds driving us to shore,” they explained on social media.

Photo: @albatross.gbrow


Now only Team Albatross remains on the water. The team has rowed 2,835km and is now on the home stretch to London, which they expect to reach within the next 48 hours.

Emergensea Duo: This husband-and-wife pair are rowing around mainland Britain. They started at Tower Bridge, London on May 22 and are working their way clockwise around the island.

Portrait of the husband-and-wife pair rowing independently around Britain.

Photo: emergenseaduo


On June 22, 30 days after setting off, they reached Scotland. Then for three days, both rowed for 20 hours each day to pass the halfway point. The weather has not been kind: In the first 30 days, they had to spend two weeks at anchor because of riotous weather. Now, whenever they have good conditions, they try to claw back some lost time.

On July 3, they reached John O’Groats, the most northerly point along their route. They have now begun their southward leg. “The West Coast of Scotland has been one of the most epic parts of this trip with such beautiful scenery,” they wrote. But wind and tides have again erected hurdles, forcing them at anchor again for several days, even as the UK basks in a heat wave.

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.