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Ocean rowing is the sport of rowing across oceans. Ocean rowing boats can hold between 1 to 14 individuals, although the more common sizes of vessel are singles, doubles, and fours.
The history of ocean rowing is sometimes divided into two eras. The first 12 ocean rows are considered "Historic Ocean rows" as they were completed with very limited if any modern technology. The subsequent rows are described as "Modern Day rows".
The early years of Ocean Rowing
The first ocean to be deliberately rowed across was the Atlantic by Frank Samuelsen and George Harbo, two Norwegians, in June 1896. The pair left Battery Park, Manhattan, on 6 June 1896, arriving on the Isles of Scilly, 55 days and 13 hours later, having covered 3,250 nautical miles (3,740 mi; 6,020 km). They continued to row to Le Havre, France.
The first solo crossing of an ocean was completed by John Fairfax of Britain on 19 July 1969. He rowed from Gran Canaria in the Canary Islands to Hollywood Beach, Florida in 180 days. In the same year Tom McClean, also of Britain, rowed from Newfoundland, Canada arriving in Blacksod Bay, Ireland on 27 July 1969. Despite having left almost four months after Fairfax, he came within 8 days of beating Fairfax to the title of first solo rower of any ocean. Kathleen and Curt is Saville were the first Americans to row across the Atlantic Ocean from Casablanca to Antigua in 1981 and Kathleen was the first woman to row the North Atlantic Ocean.
On 3 December 1999, Tori Murden of the USA became the first woman to row any ocean solo when she arrived in Guadeloupe, having set off from Tenerife in the Canary Islands 81 days earlier. In March 2006 Julie Wafaei of Canada became the first woman to row across the Atlantic from mainland to mainland.
On 10 July 2005, the Vivaldi Atlantic four-man team (Nigel Morris, George Rock, Steve Dawson, Rob Munslow) set the record for fastest unsupported row from St John's, Newfoundland to the longitude of Bishop Rock lighthouse, UK. They left on 31 May 2005, arriving back on 10 July 2005 in a time of 39 days 22 hours and 10 minutes. The Vivaldi Atlantic four also became the first four-man team ever to row the North Atlantic west to east. This record still stands as the fastest unsupported row across this 1850 nm North Atlantic Route.
The fastest unsupported row from the US to England was set in 2005 by The Ocean Fours (NL) (Gijs Groeneveld, Robert Hoeve, Jaap Koomen, Maarten Staarink) with the Vopak Victory. They left New York on 27 May and crossed the Bishops Rock longitude 60 days, 16 hours, and 19 minutes later. This record was beaten by Leven Brown and his crew in 2010. Their boat Artemis Investments left New York on 17 June 2010 and arrived in St Mary's on 31 July 2010 in a time of 43 days 21 hours 26 mins and 48 seconds. This has remained the record to date for the longer 2850 nm and original North Atlantic route. During their voyage they were capsized twice in storms.
French Explorer and Sport-Adventurer Charles Hedrich set the record for the fastest solo Atlantic crossing in 2007, from Dakar to Brazil in 36 days and 6 hours. Charles Hedrich is also the first man to complete a double Atlantic crossing non-stop, rowing solo and un assisted. Leaving from Saint-Pierre-et-Miquelon, his trajectory took him across the North Atlantic to the Canary islands, and then back East-West to finish in Martinique. The expedition saw him a total of 145 days and 22 hours at sea and marked a world first, it was completed on 1 December 2012.
The World Record for the fastest crossing of the Atlantic Ocean from the Canary Islands to the West Indies was set in 2011 by 'Team Hallin', a crew of six aboard the trimaran 'Hallin Marine', with a crossing time of 31 days 23 hours 31 minutes. The World Record for the fastest crossing of the Atlantic Ocean from Morocco to the West Indies was also set in 2011 by a six man crew aboard 'Sara G', with a crossing time of 33 days 21 hours and 46 minutes. The crew of Sara G posted the record for the most days rowed of 100 miles per day consecutively, now standing at 12 days.
La Mondiale set the original record in 1992. After much work and refurbishment this beautiful old boat was ready to go to sea again in 2008/9 and race two state of the art modern lightweight boats both of which optionally sported smaller crews but were specifically designed to beat La Mondiale. An 'informal' race took place from the Canaries to the West Indies that saw storms and tactical guile. La Mondiale, despite her age, crossed the finish line first some three days ahead of the nearest rival. She was skippered by Leven Brown. La Mondiale was subsequently lost at sea in 2009 due to the loss of her rudder, all hands were safe, but one of the sport's most historic boats was 'retired' by the ocean, proudly unbeaten.
On June 14, 2007, Bhavik Gandhi became the first Asian to row the Atlantic solo, non-stop and unsupported from Spain to Antigua. The trip, lasting 106 days, also created a record for the longest solo row across the Atlantic Ocean.
In 2010, Katie Spotz rowed solo mainland-to-mainland Dakar, Senegal–Georgetown, Guyana, 2,817 nautical miles (5,217 km) in only 70 days. Aged 22, she has been the youngest solo rower so far.
Atlantic rowing races
Rowing the Atlantic first became mainstream when the first Atlantic Rowing Race was launched by Sir Chay Blyth, after reflecting on his own ocean row that propelled him to international renown. This was the Port St. Charles, Barbados Atlantic Rowing Race. Thirty double-handed teams lined up at the start line in a "one design" rowing boat just outside Los Gigantes marina on Sunday 12 October 1997. The race was won by Kiwi Challenge, rowed by Rob Hamill and Phil Stubbs after 41 days at sea. Second place went to the French crew of Atlantik Challenge, Joseph Le Guen and his partner, a double convicted murderer, Pascal Blond.
Later Atlantic rowing races:
- Ward Evans Atlantic Rowing Race 2001 - Won by Matt Goodman & Steve Westlake in Telecom Challenge 1
- Woodvale Atlantic Rowing Race 2003 - Won by James Fitzgerald & Kevin Biggar in Holiday Shoppe Challenge
- Ocean Rowing Society's Atlantic Rowing Race 2004  - Fours event won by Queensgate (GB); Pairs event won by Christopher Morgan and Michael Perrins in Carpe Diem (GB)
- Shephard Ocean Fours Rowing Race 2006 - Inaugural North Atlantic Rowing Race won by team O.A.R. Northwest (Jordan Hanssen, Brad Vickers, Greg Spooner, and Dylan LeValley) rowing James Robert Hanssen. OAR Northwest set a Guinness World Record for the first unassisted row from mainland USA to mainland UK.
- Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge 2011
Pacific Ocean rowing
Following his successful Atlantic Ocean crossing, John Fairfax set off from San Francisco in California on 26 April 1971 with Sylvia Cook. After three stops (in Mexico, Fanning Island and the Gilbert Island of Onotoa), the two arrived on Hayman Island in Australia 361 days later on 22 April 1972. In doing so Cook became the first woman to row any Ocean. One of her commercial sponsors was Yardley of London who had just introduced a new creme based moisturized make-up named "Next to Nothing". Headlines in the trade papers of the cosmetics industry touted "Woman rows the Pacific wearing 'Next to Nothing' ".
Kathleen and Curtis Saville were the first to row from South America (Callao, Peru) to Cairns, Australia from 1984 - 1985. Their journey is recorded on the Ocean Rowing Society's site. Kathleen is also the first woman to row across two oceans - Atlantic Ocean in 1981 and South Pacific Ocean from 1984 0 85.
In 1976 Patrick Quesnel completed a crossing from Washington State to Hawaii, a journey of 2,200 nautical miles (4,100 km) which took him 114 days.
In 1977 Colin Quincey became the first to cross the Tasman Sea, the segment of the Pacific Ocean between Australia and New Zealand. He departed Hokianga, New Zealand, on 6 February 1977 and 63 days later arrived at Marcus Beach, Australia on 10 April.
The first person to row the width of the Pacific Ocean solo was Peter Bird of Britain. Bird set off from San Francisco, California and arrived at the Great Barrier Reef Australia 294 days later on 14 June 1983. Bird would later die attempting the west to east journey across the Pacific.
Controversially, Briton Jim Shekhdar later made the claim to be "the first person to row across the Pacific single-handed". Shekhdar had rowed across the Pacific non-stop, solo and unassisted arriving in Australia on 30 March 2001. Some within the sport felt that Shekhdar had not given due credit to the achievement of Peter Bird and the term "unassisted" also came under some scrutiny.
Roz Savage rowed from San Francisco to Hawaii in 2008, the first woman to do so solo, and from Hawaii to Tuvalu in 2009. She completed the third leg her trip (from Tuvalu to PNG) in 2010 and so became the first woman to row across the Pacific Ocean unassisted.
Chris Martin and Mick Dawson rowed a 2 man boat from Choshi, Japan to San Francisco Harbour, USA in 2009. Their journey took 189 days and in doing so they achieved the Guinness World Record for being the first team to row across the North Pacific Ocean.
From July 10, 2007 to May 17, 2008 Erden Eruç rowed westward from Bodega Bay, California for a total of 312 consecutive days, setting the current world record for a non-stop unassisted ocean row. Eruç completed a solo human-powered circumnavigation from 2007 to 2012, crossing the Pacific, Indian and Atlantic Oceans becoming the first person to row all three. He also set the current world record for distance rowed on the oceans at 28,581 mi (45,997 km) and is currently the most experienced living ocean rower with a total of 876 days at sea.
Great Pacific Race
In 2012, New Ocean Wave announced the first rowing race in the Pacific Ocean. Starting in June 2014 the Great Pacific Race will be the first ocean rowing race on the Pacific from Monterey, California to Honolulu,Hawaii. New Ocean Wave is run by Chris Martin (rower) and Roz Savage both highly experienced and capable ocean rowers in their own right.
Indian Ocean rowing
The Indian Ocean was first crossed by Anders Svedlund of Sweden in 1971. He set off from Kalbarri in Western Australia on 29 April 1971 and arrived near Diego Suarez, Madagascar, 64 days later on 23 June.
Sarah Outen, a 24 year old Briton, left Fremantle, Western Australia on April 1, 2009. Rowing her 19 ft (5.8 m) boat Serendipity, she arrived at Bois des Amourettes, Mauritius, 124 days later on August 3. She became the first woman soloist to attempt and successfully complete the crossing. She is also the world's youngest solo female ocean rower.
The current speed record for rowing the Indian Ocean is held by the 8 person crew of Audeamus ('Let Us Dare'), who took a little over 58 days to set the new record in 2009. The crew consisted of Bernard Fisset (Belgium); Doug Tuminello, Brian Flick and Angela Madsen (USA); and Helen Taylor, Ian Couch, Simon Chalk and Paul Cannon (UK).
Audeamus is the first boat ever to row unassisted, land to land cross the Indian Ocean, landing just a few weeks ahead of "Team MSS". It is also the first, multi-person boat and the first mixed boat to row the Indian Ocean and the first 8 person boat to row any Ocean. All are Guinness World Records.
Helen Taylor and Angela Madsen are the first women to row across the Indian Ocean, landing just a few weeks ahead of Sarah Outen. There are several other Guinness world records associated with the boat.
The first all female crew to cross the Indian Ocean left Australia, Geroldton on 19 April 2009 taking 78 days to cross the ocean coming second in the first ever 'Woodvale Indian Ocean Rowing Race'. The Ocean Angels (www.oceanangels.co.uk) supported Breast Cancer Care on their journey, consisting of Fiona Waller, Sarah Duff, Elin Davies and Joanna Jackson.
On 19 April 2009 Andrew Delaney and Guy Watts began their unsupported ocean row from Geraldton, Western Australia across the Indian Ocean to Mauritius. They set five world records and broke two race speed records. They were the first pair to row unassisted land to land across the Indian Ocean and they were winners of the ‘pair’s class’ in the inaugural Indian Ocean Rowing Race.
On August 5, 2013, Maxime Chaya (Lebanon) and his 2 team mates Stuart Kershaw (England) and Livar Nysted (Faroe Islands) arrived in Mauritius 57 days, 15 hours, and 49 minutes after setting off from Geraldton, Western Australia. They were the first 3 man team to cross the Indian or any ocean.
In 2010, two Army doctors, Nick Dennison and Hamish Reid, circumnavigated mainland Britain in a single journey in an ocean rowing boat. The pair started and finished in Lymington, and completed the 2,100-nautical-mile (3,900 km; 2,400 mi) journey in 50 days and 5 hours.
In 2005, four British army officers rowed around Great Britain in 26 days. Guinness World Records designated their effort as "fastest unsupported row circumnavigating UK mainland waters". In 2008 and 2009, the challenge was independently attempted again, each ending in failure. In 2010, Sir Richard Branson sponsored the inaugural multi boat race, called Virgin GB Row 2010. Four crews entered but only two made it through rigorous scrutiny to the Start line. The men's crew in ORCA were forced to retire as the boat lost its anchor at Wolf Rock, off Lands End, leaving the ladies crew to complete the race in 51 days, setting a world record as the fastest unsupported female four to complete the entire challenge, starting and finishing at Tower Bridge in London.
On 1 June 2013, 6 boats set off for the honours of World Records plus a chance at winning the biggest cash prize in rowing history - £100,000 to the first boat to beat the fastest time world record.
- Ocean Rowing Society (2011-02-08). List of successful ocean rows by oceans, routes and categories. Ocean Rowing Society, updated 8 February 2011. Retrieved from http://www.oceanrowing.com/statistics/ocean_rowing_records.htm.
- Ocean Rowing Society (2012-06). Completed Ocean Rows in Chronological Order. Ocean Rowing Society, created 1997. updated June 2012. Retrieved from http://www.oceanrowing.com/statistics/stats_rows_chronological_order.htm.
- 8000 ers. Retrieved from http://www.8000ers.com/cms/everest-general-info-185.html.
- Ocean Rowing Angus Adventures
- BBC News - 31 July 2010
- Newspaper Article - Hereford Times - Friday 6 August 2010 By Paul Ferguson 
- Bhavik's atlantic row coverage
- Ocean Rowing statistics Accessed: 4 April 2012
- Quincey, C. (1977). Tasman Trespasser, page 202. Auckland: Hodder & Stoughton.
- Quincey, C. (1977). Tasman Trespasser. Auckland: Hodder & Stoughton.
- Guinness World Records 2011 page 118
- "Ocean Rowing Society - Longest time at sea". Ocean Rowing Society. Retrieved 6 Dec 2013.
- "Ocean Rowing Society - Firsts". Ocean Rowing Society. Retrieved 6 Dec 2013.
- "Ocean Rowing Society - Multiple Crossings". Ocean Rowing Society. Retrieved 6 Dec 2013.
- "Guinness World Records - First Person to Row Three Oceans". Guinness World Records. Retrieved 6 Dec 2013.
- New Ocean Wave homepage New Ocean Wave
- New Ocean Wave - About us
- New Ocean Wave - Human powered ocean adventures including the Great Pacific Race and NOMAN
- Ocean Row Events
- The World Rowing Network
- The Association of Ocean Rowers
- Woodvale Events
- Ocean Rowing Handbook
- The Ocean Rowing Society
-  Don Allum's log at the above.