Ocean Rowing Roundup for June

Since our last update, one crew has completed their ocean crossing, a race around Great Britain has begun, and one duo is trying to break an Atlantic speed record.

Completed

Team Neal Marsh: Ralph Tujin (NL), Kevin O’Farrell (IE), Robert Collins (IE), and Simon van der Hoek (NL) completed their row from Portugal to French Guiana on May 30. They completed the 5,700km journey in 54 days and 35 minutes. 

In the first few weeks of their journey, they experienced rough weather and had to spend several days on their para-anchor. Once, rather than sit out the storm on the boat, they spent the day in Gran Canaria. They later stopped in Cape Verde for medical advice after Tujin injured his leg.

Closeup of two rowers

Photo: Ralph Tujin

 

In the final few weeks, their batteries stopped fully charging and they couldn’t figure out why. To maintain their autopilot, they had to turn off their AIS (Automatic Identification System) and plotter. With no AIS, they had to scan the horizon every 20 minutes day and night. They also used their electrical water maker every two days. In between, they made water manually.

Underway

Project Empower: The Irish pair of Damian Browne and Fergus Farrell had planned to start their row from New York City to Galway, Ireland on May 18. Unfavorable winds forced them to delay. They eventually began on June 14.

Two guys walking downtown NYC with their oars

Photo: Project Empower

 

Over the last six days, they have rowed 475km. The pair are aiming to break the speed record across the North Atlantic from west to east. This means completing their row within 55 days.

GB Row Challenge 2022:

The GB Row Challenge calls itself ‘the world’s toughest rowing race’. Crews race 3,500km around mainland Great Britain, starting and ending at Tower Bridge in London.

Team of six in blue shirts near Tower Bridge

Photo: GB Row Challenge

 

The event is run by two rowers who have completed the course themselves. William de Laszlo did it in 2005 and set a course record. Jim Bastin completed the race in 2017. Bastin has rowed the mid-Atlantic and believes that the row around Britain is harder. Rowing so close to land means that crews face changing tides, shipping lanes, and tricky coastal navigation.

Laszlo and Bastin want the event to have an environmental purpose, so all boats are collecting marine data en route.

Three crews

This year, three crews are competing. All have athletic backgrounds:

  • 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. They are currently in first place and have covered 745km.
  • Sea Legs: The mixed five include Chris Howard, Emma Wolstenholme, Jason McKinley, Sophie Harris, and Lamin Deen. They have covered 707km.
  • All Systems Row: The all-female five are currently in third position. The team of Andrea Harwood, Charlotte Cooper, Lia Evans, Stephanie Toogood, Jessica Plail has covered 660km.
All-women's team posing near Tower Bridge

Photo: GB Row Challenge

 

EmergenseaDuo: Charlotte Fleury and Adam Baker set off from Tower Bridge, London on May 22. They are also rowing around mainland Great Britain but not as part of the GB Row Challenge. The pair are trying to complete two of the world’s toughest rows in a year. In January, they completed the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge. Now, just months later, they are back on the water.

Ripped couple draped with Union Jack

Charlotte Fleury and Adam Baker completed the TWAC earlier this year. Photo: emergenseaduo.com

 

The husband and wife duo are both emergency medicine doctors. They are raising money for a number of healthcare charities.

“One of the hardest parts of this row around GB is the meticulous daily route planning that…allows us to navigate tidal streams, buoyage, and busy shipping lanes safely,” they said.

Currently, they are in the Irish Sea. Over the past few weeks, the couple has battled everything from storms to heat waves].

Almost ready to go

Toms Pacific Journey: Tom Robinson (23) is getting ready to start his row across the South Pacific from Peru to Australia. He hopes to start in the next few days. If he succeeds, he will be the youngest person to solo row the Pacific.

Rowboat emerging from back of van

Photo: tomrobinsonboats.com

 

He has been in Lima, Peru for over a month, waiting for his boat Maiwar to arrive. It finally came on June 5. Since then, he has been preparing for the long journey ahead.

Robinson is splitting the row into four legs: Lima to Tahiti, Tahiti to the Cook Islands, the Cook Islands to Tonga, and Tonga to Brisbane. Adding another element to his journey, he is rowing a 7.3m vessel that he designed and built himself.

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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