Fiann Paul

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Fiann Paul
Fiann Paul public speaking, September 2018.jpg
Fiann Paul public speaking in 2018
Born1980 (age 38–39)
ResidenceIceland
CitizenshipIcelandic
OccupationExplorer, athlete and artist
Known forSports: Fastest and most record-breaking ocean rower
2x overall speed records hat trick[1]
Art: Photography, Large-scale art installations
Explorations: First to row:
-4 oceans
-Arctic Ocean Open Waters
-Barents Sea
-Greenland Sea
AwardsBlue Riband Trophy of Ocean Rowing (2011)
Honours-9 Guinness Titles of "World's First"
-Multiple World Records including 24 performance based Guinness World Records by 2018
Websitefiannpaul.com'
rowlaughexplore.com

Fiann Paul (born 1980) is an Icelandic explorer, athlete and artist, who holds the world's highest number of performance based Guinness World Records within one discipline (30 total / 23 performance based)[2][3][note 1], ranking above Michael Phelps (23 / 20), and Roger Federer (30 / 18) as of 2019.[note 2][6]

He is known for being the fastest ocean rower (2016)[7][8][9][10][11] and the most record-breaking ocean rower (2017)[12][2][3][13], one of the most record-breaking explorers (adjudicated 2018),[2][3][14] and one of the most record breaking athletes, breaking a total of 34 records[15] during his sports and explorations career, including 24 performance based Guinness World Records within one singular sport.[3][2]

Fiann is the holder of many of the highest honors in the ocean rowing history,[16] which include the world's highest number of Guinness titles of "World's First" (9),[17][3] known also as "historical firsts", typically awarded by Guinness for explorations, such as "First to row 4 oceans",[18] "First to hold current speed records on all 4 oceans",[9] and first to row some of the northernmost Nordic Seas.[19][20][21][22] As of 2018 equally high number of "World's Firsts" is held by Reinhold Messner (9).[23]

He was the captain of the most record-breaking expedition in history,[11] Stroke of the fastest boat in ocean rowing history[24][25] and Stroke of the overall speed record-breaking crossings of each ocean.[26][27]

His achievements critically contributed to Iceland becoming the holder of the world's highest sports' Guinness World Records number per capita.[28] As of 2018 his records constitute 68% of the total number of Icelandic sports' Guinness World Records.[3][29][30]

Sports[edit]

Speed records[edit]

Fiann has crossed all four oceans in an unsupported and unassisted man powered[31] row boat with world-record-breaking speed, setting the overall speed records for the Atlantic, Indian, Pacific and Arctic Ocean.[32][33]

Background[edit]

Fiann was introduced to ocean rowing in 2007 while working for Swedish charity Chiparamba Foundation coaching athletes in Africa.[34][35]

2011[edit]

In 2011 Fiann acted as a stroke of Sara G which earned the title of the Fastest Boat in ocean rowing history, established an overall speed record for the Atlantic Ocean and won the Blue Riband Trophy of Ocean Rowing.[36][24] The Atlantic Trade Winds I is the most competitive ocean rowing route,[37] sought by rowing legends, such as James Cracknell OBE, and endurance athletes such as Mark Beaumont BEM.[38][39][40]

The level of challenge for the crossing was multiplied by a broken center board, that broke less than halfway across the expedition. The story was portrayed in a movie One Ocean, No Limits which was broadcast by Irish National TV.[41]

2014, 2 oceans[edit]

In 2014 Fiann became the first person to simultaneously hold overall speed records for the fastest rowing across 2 oceans (Atlantic and Indian).[42] Throughout his career Fiann broke four oars. Three were destroyed in maritime storms and the fourth was shattered during an evacuation mission on the Indian Ocean aboard Avalon, when a tanker, Nordic River[43] arrived to save an injured crew member, yet began to pull the small craft disastrously into its propeller, five times the height of the boat itself. The oar broke in Fiann's hands while pushing the rowers’ boat away from the tanker, saving the crew from collision, as the crew radioed the tanker to cut its engines just in time.[44][29][45]

In addition to another collision, this time with a blue whale, the critical steering cable broke, which forced the crew to manually steer the boat, thereby reducing the rowing deck to two rowers per shift, half of what it is designed for. Finally, after sustaining injuries passing through a hurricane, the crew narrowed down to only 3 rowers in total (1.5 per shift), who had to power a 2-ton heavy boat designed to be rowed by 8. The incomplete crew had to row 2:40hr on, 1:20hr off shifts instead of the standard 2h:2h pattern in order to maintain their course. This extreme challenge put crew members into a lengthy delirium, lasting many days due to severe exhaustion and sleep deprivation.[46]

2016, 3 oceans[edit]

Ocean boundaries following the 3 oceans model

In 2016 he became the only rower ever to achieve all three overall speed records (Atlantic, Indian, Mid-Pacific) and the only rower to hold all three records simultaneously.[47] Upon this achievement, he was awarded by Guinness World Records the title of "The first person to hold simultaneous overall speed records for ocean rowing all three oceans",[48] one of the highest honors in the history of ocean rowing.

Prevailing winds on Earth

Of significance is the fact that Fiann achieved 3 overall speed records in purely man-powered boats against open-class boats, that are advantaged by partly wind-supported designs on a Trade Winds routes.[49][50][51]

In a documentary called Corrida of the Pacific made by Globo TV, Fiann reported that his total sleep time during the first week was 5 hours due to strategically attempting to achieve an advantage by racing ahead, as he stated that it was psychologically much easier to win the race from the front.[32] The world record was broken by 4 days. The next boat arrived 6 days later. Out of 12 boats that announced their participation in the race, only 6 managed to complete the challenge.[52]

2017, 4 oceans[edit]

Ocean boundaries following the 4 oceans model

In 2017 he expanded his title by rowing the Arctic Ocean, becoming the first person to row 4 oceans and earning the Arctic Ocean overall speed record.

In order to receive a permit to row to Svalbard, Fiann needed to apply to the Governor of Svalbard, to introduce an evaluation of the chances and the team's ability to accomplish the expedition. Fiann estimated an average speed for the expedition of 2.7 Knots. The Governor's representative declared the claim a bluff, due to the present Arctic Ocean rowing overall speed record being 0.7 Knots and that small sail boats average 4 Knots. Thus, they pressed the highest possible insurance bond, which became the biggest element of the expedition budget. The accuracy of the ETA declared by Fiann deviated by 4h. As per plan, the rowers flawlessly caught the rising tide of the 108 km long Icy Fjord off of Longyearbyen.[53][33][54][55]

The Polar Row I was the biggest record demolition in the history of ocean rowing: the existing Arctic Ocean record was broken by 3.5 times, despite the Polar Row I team being buffeted by headwinds 60% of the time.[56][57] Fiann stated that the headwinds they faced were “a validation of our manpower performance”. Upon this achievement he received Guinness Titles of: "First to row 4 Oceans" and "First to hold current speed records on all 4 oceans".[33]

Other information[edit]

Fiann achieved the highest success rate in the history of ocean rowing, measuring the number of attempted-speed-records to successful expeditions.[58][59][60] He was on stroke position for each row,[61][62] the role that sets the boat's pace. His total effort performed in ocean rowing was compared to consecutively running approximately 300[note 3] marathons.[64][65] In an interview with Washington Times he mentioned that his resting heart rate during off-shift times throughout the record breaking crossings was 95 BPM, almost twice the normal resting heart rate.[33] His record-breaking performance was listed by Grapevine Magazine as one of 7 most notable "Smitings" delivered in the history of Icelandic sports. In this act he was suspected of comradery with Ægir.[66] Presently, he is one of the world's most accomplished rowers.[67][68][69][70][14]

Despite reaching the top of various ocean rowing statistics, Fiann declared that he perceives the accomplishments of certain past ocean rowers as more admirable than his own, due to their performance taking place in conditions described by the Ocean Rowing Society as “not very different from the times of Columbus”. Thus, their level of challenge was incomparably higher.[71][33][72]

Pioneering and explorations[edit]

Arctic Ocean Open Waters[edit]

Contrary to man-powered explorations on open waters, coastal explorations of the Arctic Ocean have been pursued for centuries by indigenous people.

In 2017, Fiann acted as Captain, Stroke and Head of the project Polar Row, the most record-breaking ocean row and most record-breaking expedition in history (over a dozen Guinness World Records). It was the first recorded human-powered expedition and the first recorded row across the Arctic Ocean Open Waters, within the minimum Guinness World Record criteria: "across major water basins above the Polar Circle from land to land ... not around islands, within archipelagos or coastal rows, i.e. not within the vicinity of land nor the possibility to get ashore."[73][54] Polar Row confronted inconsistent wind patterns, diametrically different from the most frequently attempted rows, typical to lower latitudes Trade Winds routes.[56] The crew used no sails, no engine, nor support other than man-power. The magnitude of the challenge was amplified by the unavoidable slalom between icebergs and drift ice. Encountering ice is not unique to coastal rows on the Arctic Ocean, but was multiple times more difficult for the first historical row on the open waters of the Arctic Ocean, where relatively high swells threaten the highly un-maneuverable row boat among the drift ice. Prior to Polar Row, non-open waters Arctic Ocean rows and coastal Arctic Ocean rows experienced more static seas and the ability to access land at any moment.[74]

According to existing historical records, Polar Row achieved the first complete man-powered crossing of the Barents Sea and the Greenland Sea. However, it is unknown if any such crossing had ever been performed by indigenous people in the past.

"Devil's Jaw"[edit]

Polar Row consisted of two teams: Polar Row I and Polar Row II. In total, the teams covered approximately 1400 Nautical Miles (1611 Miles or 2593 km), 1250 Nautical Miles measured in a straight line (1440 Miles or 2316 km) across the Arctic Ocean. Polar Row pioneered new ocean rowing routes from Tromsø to Longyearbyen, from Longyearbyen to Arctic ice pack (79°55'50 N) and from ice pack to Jan Mayen. It was the first complete, recorded man-powered crossing of the Barents Sea and of the Greenland Sea, some of the world's northernmost waters, which had long been called by sailors of the past, the "Devil's dance floor".[11][75][76] Upon completion of Polar Row I and arrival to Longyearbyen, Fiann was asked by Norwegian TV2 how a rower would name the Barents Sea. Fiann responded that he would call it “Devil's Jaw”, adding that the winds you constantly battle are the breath from the devil's nostrils while he holds you in his jaws.[77]

Viking mark[edit]

Fiann was the first modern day ocean rower to introduce a system of shifts depending on the mileage mark reached by rowers, instead of the more typically used time mark. This system allows rowers to choose how fast they complete their shift and allows the resting rowers to rest longer if the active shifts are completed with a slower pace. Recently, such a system is credited to be linked to the etymology of the word ‘Viking’.[14][78][79][80]

Approach[edit]

When asked what makes one a successful ultra-endurance athlete, Fiann often outlined that love for the adventure is not enough, and that being tough is a must but it is just the foundation. The critical advantage in his opinion is rarely achieved by men today: good understanding of and communication with one's body, a quality often inaccessible to individuals attached to the cliche version of masculinity.[74][11]

On explorations: “The last great physical explorations left on the surface of this planet are the boundaries of man-power performance. Every mountain has been summited by a helicopter, but the person who climbs it first is still a pioneer. Every land has been reached by a motor or wind-powered vessel. But many of the major water basins have never been crossed by human power”[13]

Other information[edit]

Fiann is one of two Icelandic members of the American-based international multidisciplinary professional society: The Explorers Club. He carried The Explorers Club Flag to Svalbard, to the Arctic ice pack and to Jan Mayen during the Polar Row, the same type of flag that decorated the raft of Thor Heyerdahl during the Kon Tiki expedition.[33][81]

Art[edit]

"Dialog", large-scale, outdoor art installation in 2008
"See It", large-scale, outdoor art installation in 2011

As an artist, Fiann is the author of numerous national-level Icelandic and international exhibitions including several large-scale, outdoor art installations. His work mainly focuses on themes of indigenous people, children, breastfeeding and animal rights.[82]

He was one of two authors of "Dialog", an outdoor art installation that spanned two main streets in the heart of the capital city with photographs of Icelandic children, 2008.[83][84] He was also the author of the project, "See It!" promoting the awareness of breastfeeding, an outdoor art installation in downtown Reykjavík at the facade of street Tryggvagata in 2011.[85]

As an artist, Fiann was also involved in supporting the welfare of an endangered local breed of horses unique to the Faroe Islands.[86][87] As a photographer he also documented many of his expeditions.

Since 2009 his Arctic photographs have been on permanent display at the International Terminal of Kulusuk Airport, the main airport of East Greenland. Some of his photographs of breastfeeding are displayed in Ísafjörður Hospital. Together with photographs of RAX, Fiann's Arctic photographs were selected to represent Greenlandic Art at the Arctic Winter Games in Canada, 2012.[84] In 2011 Fiann swam with seals in a freezing pond next to an outdoor display of his photographs at the Family Garden in Reykjavik. His name was officially added to the seals' family list and mentioned along with the other seals on the portal of Reykjavik City.[84]

Intersection of activities[edit]

On certain occasions, Fiann raised attention not as an athlete or an artist, but as someone uniquely combining different fields of activity.[88] He was featured in a German TV documentary "On 3 Sofas" as a rare example of a person who achieves notable results in rarely combined disciplines, in this case, sports and art.[89] Once in an interview with Icelandic National TV, Fiann was asked whether ocean rowing was in any way similar to art. Fiann responded affirmatively, adding that "They both connect to Depth".[90] In this way, Fiann was also referring to his current postgraduate studies of Depth Psychology.[91][13]

In an international television program, Trans World Sports, he was portrayed as someone active in the fields of art, sports and psychology. He discussed the concept of ‘Arete’, an ancient Greek training of young men into manhood, which included physical, intellectual and artistic training. Arete emphasized that development in each of these aspects must be present in order to achieve manhood.[12]

Public Speaking[edit]

External video
TEDx talk by Fiann Paul
Gifts of wounds and personality disorders traits via TEDx Talks on YouTube[92]
Timelapse of endurance hunting presented by Fiann Paul during TEDx talk.

Since 2017, Fiann has been conducting lectures on the Dark Side of the Hero's Journey, detailing the psychological aspects of ultra endurance sports and the psyche of explorers.[93][13][94] In 2019 Fiann spoke at TEDxBend, where he elaborated on the potential generated by psychological wounds and the possibility of deriving constructive outcome based on the personality traits related to these wounds.[95]

Charity and other activities[edit]

His very first creative project to receive public recognition was a charity event that he organized, in which Fiann collected funds and supervised the construction of a new facility building for Götusmiðjan, the center for youth at risk, in Iceland in 2007.[96]

In 2011 Fiann and Natalie Caroline founded Fiann Paul Foundation, which built a primary school in the Himalayas in 2013.[97][98] The school educates 150 pupils per year.[99] The project demonstrates two of his main academic interests, architecture and pedagogy. Fiann holds a master's degrees in each discipline.[44] In addition to his formal education, Fiann spent 2 years in the Himalayas and 1 1/2 years in the remote parts of Greenland. He considers this time as transformational periods in his life.[100]

Presently, Fiann is pursuing postgraduate level studies in Depth Psychology. He is undergoing training to become a Jungian Analyst at the C.G. Jung institute in Zürich.[101] His main focus is the psychology of ultra endurance performance, and the psychological dynamics within the psyche of explorers and endurance athletes.[102]

He has conducted multiple lectures, and workshops in different parts of the world.[103][104][105]

In 2019 Fiann was appointed a coordinator for Ocean Rowing Society International, the governing body for international ocean rowing.[106]

Personal life[edit]

Fiann chooses to consume no alcohol. The only meat present in his diet is of fish origin, as he states that fish are the only animals he could handle killing by himself.[29][44] He is also known for eating raw eggs, instead of protein shakes after training.[12]

His favorite places in Reykjavik are Nauthólsvík, and Árbæjarlaug where his personalized outdoor workout is a major part of his daily training routine.[107][108]

Throughout his career Fiann has mentioned only one coach, Eygló Rós Agnarsdóttir, in an interview conducted in 2017[12]

Honors[edit]

includes detailed description, order as appears on the Guinness Website, not chronological
complete list of official performance based Guinness World Records held by Fiann Paul, 2018

Performance based Guinness World Records[edit]

Guinness World's Firsts[edit]

"World's First" is the highest form of Guinness World Record, the ownership of this title never expires.

Performance Guinness World's Firsts[edit]

  • First person to hold simultaneous overall[note 4] speed Guinness World Records for ocean rowing all three oceans: 2016[111]
  • First person to twice hold three simultaneous overall ocean rowing speed records on different oceans: 2017[10]
  • First to hold current speed records on 4 oceans, 2017[33]

Pioneering and explorations Guinness World's Firsts[edit]

  • First to row 4 oceans, 2017[33]
  • First to row the Arctic Ocean open waters South to North[112]
  • First recorded complete man-powered crossing of the Barents Sea, 2017[75]
  • First to row the Arctic Ocean open waters North to South, 2017[112]
  • First recorded complete man-powered crossing of the Greenland Sea, 2017[54]
  • First to row the Arctic Ocean in both directions, 2017[113]

Guinness Mosts[edit]

Accumulative Guinness World Records for total number of accomplishments in Ocean Rowing

  • Most ocean rowing speed records held simultaneously on different oceans (3) : 2016[114]
  • Most ocean rowing speed records held simultaneously on different oceans, (4) : 2017[114]
  • Most ocean rowing overall speed records within two consecutive years (2): 2017[114]

Overall Speed Guinness World Records[edit]

Multiple speed records exist on each ocean for different routes, classes and categories. The overall speed record however, is the highest type of speed record there is.[37]

  • Fastest crossing of the Atlantic Ocean, 2011[36]
  • Fastest crossing of the Indian Ocean, 2014[113]
  • Fastest crossing of the Mid-Pacific Ocean, 2016[68]
  • Fastest crossing of the Arctic Ocean, 2017[33]

Other Speed Guinness World Records[edit]

  • Highest consecutive number of days rowed a distance over 100 miles a day (12 days), 2011[115]
  • Fastest row across the Indian Ocean by a team, 2014[116]

Geographical Guinness World Records[edit]

Latitude records can only be claimed within the expedition that meets the ocean rowing criteria of minimum distance covered.[73]

Latitude Guinness World Records[edit]

  • Northernmost latitude (78°15'20'' N) reached by a rowing vessel, 2017[33]
  • Northernmost departure point (78°13' N), 2017[113]
  • Northernmost latitude reached by a rowing vessel (Arctic ice pack edge - 79°55'50'' N), 2017[113]

Longest distance Guinness World Records[edit]

  • The longest distance rowed on the Arctic Ocean Open Waters within one expedition, 2017[112]
  • Longest distance rowed by a crew on the Indian Ocean, 2014[117]

Ocean Rowing World Records[edit]

  • Most record-breaking ocean rower[113]
  • Most record-breaking ocean crossing, 2017[11]
  • Fastest ocean rowing boat in history as compared to the average speed of any row on any ocean, 2011[24]
  • First recorded Icelandic ocean rower since Viking Era

Other world records[edit]

  • Most record-breaking expedition in history, 2017[11]

Other Honors[edit]

  • Blue Riband Trophy of Ocean Rowing: 2011[118][119]
  • Winner of the Great Pacific Race in classic class: 2016[111]
  • Winner of the Great Pacific Race in all classes (against open class): 2016[120]
  • Holder of majority of Icelandic Sports' Guinness World Records[29]
  • Oars of Anders Svedlund from friends and family of Anders Svedlund[107]
  • Diploma from Military Personnel of Jan Mayen for accomplishments in ocean rowing[107]

Statistical facts[edit]

As of 2018 his records constitute the majority of Icelandic sports’ Guinness World Records (68%, or 30 of 44 in total)[note 5] 68% of Icelandic personal Guinness World Records (30 of 44 in total)[note 6] and 30% of the total number of Icelandic Guinness World Records (30 of 99 including Iceland's records for natural phenomenons and geography).[3][28] Other major holders of Icelandic sports' Guinness World records are Anníe Mist Þórisdóttir (3) and Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson (4).

Record breaking routes[edit]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Performance based records don't include age, salary and other non-performance-based criteria[4]
  2. ^ Higher numbers of Guinness records have been held by Record Breakers such as Ashrita Furman who claim records in a variety of feats, but not by competing in one singular sport[5]
  3. ^ This number refers to the days on the ocean alone while his daily training in the preparations period usually consists of rowing approximately ¾ marathon (30km) and weights training.[63]
  4. ^ Overall speed record in ocean rowing stands for the fastest crossing regardless of any additional criteria such as number and type of the crew, class of the boat, hull type, race, exact departure and arrival points, departure date etc. Average overall speed is calculated and compared. The distance used for the overall speed calculation is the straight line distance between the departure and the arrival points, while the actual distance rowed and the actual average speed is usually much higher[109][110]
  5. ^ As of 2018, the remaining 14 Sports Guinness World Records are: 1. Most wins of the World's Strongest Man 2. Smallest margin of victory in the World's Strongest Man competition 3. Most weight lifted in one minute barbell snatch (female) 4. Furthest distance 400 kg farmer’s walk 5. Highest beer keg toss (male) 6. Heaviest elephant bar deadlift 7. Most weight lifted in one minute barbell thruster (female) 8. Fastest time to pull 10 cars 20 m 9. Fastest 20 m carrying two fridges 10. Most wins consecutively of the World's Strongest Man 11. Most goals scored in a single season of the UEFA Women’s Champions League by a football (soccer) player 12. Most weight lifted in one minute clean and jerk (female) 13. Highest aggregate score in a European Cup / Champions League match 14. Fastest swim 200 m freestyle - S14 (male)[121]
  6. ^ As of 2018, the remaining 14 personal Guinness World Records are: 1. Largest recorder 2. Most weight lifted in one minute barbell snatch (female) 3. Furthest distance 400 kg farmer’s walk 4. Heaviest elephant bar deadlift 5. Most weight lifted in one minute barbell thruster (female) 6. Fastest 20 m carrying two fridges 7. Fastest time to pull 10 cars 20 m 8. First Head of Government to enter into a same sex marriage 9. Most wins consecutively of the World's Strongest Man 10. Most goals scored in a single season of the UEFA Women’s Champions League by a football (soccer) player 11. Longest journey on a pocketbike (minimoto) 12. Most weight lifted in one minute clean and jerk (female) 13. Fastest swim 200 m freestyle - S14 (male) 14. First app in New York’s Museum of Modern Art[121]

References[edit]

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