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Sculling across the seas
August 1, 2010 12:25 AM   Subscribe

Saturday, a four man rowing crew (pictures) broke the 114 year old record for rowing across the Atlantic. posted by Burhanistan (28 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

 
pretty cool, 118 miles in one 24 hour period is mind blowing.

Worth pulling out to note: the 1896 record holders where just two men, whereas the now record holders was four... 12 day difference. I wonder what the 2010 time would have been with just two crew.
posted by edgeways at 12:43 AM on August 1, 2010


I wonder what the 2010 time would have been with just two crew.

That's an interesting question. These guys had a bigger boat with alot more gear than the Norwegians, plus only two were rowing at a time. Conversely, they were able to rest more. Maybe if more (insane) people start doing this there will be a more standardized approach?
posted by Burhanistan at 12:49 AM on August 1, 2010


yeah, I did a double take when I realized the Norwegians rowed across the Atlantic in a boat lighter than I (by ten pounds), yeash
posted by edgeways at 12:55 AM on August 1, 2010


This makes me appreciate how the first settlers colonized Oceania with very little in the form of technology.
posted by mikepaco at 1:47 AM on August 1, 2010


So it's a double scull with not one, but two coxswains, sitting in a cabin out back and probably drinking Earl Grey & playing chess.

Until Oxford & Cambridge battle this out in proper VIIIs, neck and neck, this is obviously just a dilettante's folly.
posted by UbuRoivas at 1:52 AM on August 1, 2010 [3 favorites]


I'm surprised this is being billed as "breaking a record," since it's clearly not: the first record was for two persons, the new record is for four persons.
posted by HP LaserJet P10006 at 2:09 AM on August 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


These two-men or four-men races have nothing on the good old days of watercraft rowing, where you could have dozens of slaves emulate an outboard motor.
posted by twoleftfeet at 2:33 AM on August 1, 2010


I think its a badass accomplishment...but i don't think it compares to the 2 man record.

I'm really stunned that this record hasn't been broken before because of all the advancements in rowing technology...and the fact that professional athletes who get paid to perform to this 24/7, not just while they have a holiday from work have existed for a while.
posted by hal_c_on at 3:01 AM on August 1, 2010


Impressive. But I must admit I'm a little disappointed that their boat didn't look more... vikingesque.
posted by emd3737 at 3:29 AM on August 1, 2010



Isn't it interesting that it takes the "breaking" of a record to draw attention to just how impressive the original achievement actually was?

It took four guys, rowing in shifts to better the performance of two scrawny fisherman who were equipped with little more than a cedar row boat, a compass and a sextant.

Nineteenth century folks were just plain bad-ass.
posted by DavidandConquer at 6:23 AM on August 1, 2010 [8 favorites]


I've read all the links but I'm still confused as to whether they had a safety and support team following them or whether they were actually solo. Drinking water alone for four people for 44 days at an extremely conservative estimate of 2 liters per person per day would weigh about 775 pounds, whereas the Guardian link says their entire vessel weighs only 660 pounds.
posted by Rhomboid at 6:33 AM on August 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


Totally agree about the impressiveness of the older accomplishment, DavidandConquer. From the bronzesea link, page 11 of the slideshow (all content / sics from the original):
They rowed passed the Grand Banks on the way out. Past 'Gloucester' Schooners that had nests of Dory's they would fish from. The fishermen wondered "What schooner are you men off?"

They would reply, "just rowing across the Atlantic, no mother ship" to the surprised Captains of the Schooners.
posted by Alt F4 at 6:42 AM on August 1, 2010 [2 favorites]


Nineteenth century folks were just plain bad-ass.

Well, they were descended from Vikings.
posted by UbuRoivas at 7:07 AM on August 1, 2010


Remember: Sharks.

[I especially enjoyed the part about the rowers signaling for the support ship, which arrives in a zippy six hours. ]
posted by Mike Mongo at 8:24 AM on August 1, 2010


The two man record still stands strong, not only because it was 2 but because it was a wooden skiff. Who would do it in an open wood boat today? Even the 4-man attempt was rolled twice on the trip.
posted by stbalbach at 8:31 AM on August 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


I travelled across the Rockies the other day and it took mere hours, completely destroying the best time-to-cross from the early 1900s!
posted by mazola at 9:31 AM on August 1, 2010


On the other hand, people are generally wusses nowadays so props to them for embarking on this in the first place and it is an amazing feat, comparisons aside.

And along the same lines: Who was the better goal scorer? Gretzky or Howe?

posted by mazola at 9:57 AM on August 1, 2010


I love how the modern guys are all big burly, muscular, disheveled dudes, whereas the Norwegian fishermen look like gentlemen out for a leisurely Sunday row around the pond. And not burly.
posted by tejolote at 10:08 AM on August 1, 2010


Rhomboid - it's entirely possible that they had some (possibly solar powered) desalination system, that would have produced enough water for drinking but not for washing.
posted by Lebannen at 10:27 AM on August 1, 2010


tejolote: I love how the modern guys are all big burly, muscular, disheveled dudes, whereas the Norwegian fishermen look like gentlemen out for a leisurely Sunday row around the pond. And not burly.

The leisurely Sunday behavior extended to long-ago athletes too.

In the 1980s, I did one of those "looking back" features to the 1932 Olympic games in LA & interviewed the widow of a man called Tommy Hampson who had won gold - and a new world record - for Britain in the 800m.

She let me read his delightfully detailed letters from the LA trip.

On the morning of the medal race, he had bacon and eggs, with two cups of tea, followed - as usual -by a cigarette!

[wiki: Also a winner at the inaugural British Empire Games, Hampson was one of the world's leading runners in the 800 m and half-mile event. That made him one of the top favourites for the 800 m gold at the 1932 Olympics, held in Los Angeles. In the final, Hampson fought off Canadian Alex Wilson to break the tape in 1.49,7, a new world record.]
posted by Jody Tresidder at 10:35 AM on August 1, 2010


"I'm surprised this is being billed as 'breaking a record,' since it's clearly not: the first record was for two persons, the new record is for four persons."

This is pretty well standard for these kinds of records. The record for "Rowing across the Atlantic" has been broken. The record for "rowing across the Atlantic while handicapped by only two crew" still stands. See the difference between land speed record and driven wheel land speed record. The land speed record system has hundreds of these self imposed handicaps participants of which all claim a land speed record.
posted by Mitheral at 11:40 AM on August 1, 2010


These guys are men. Those two in 1896, they're gods.
posted by pashdown at 11:48 AM on August 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


Hey - thanks for posting this.
By chance I was on St. Marys in the Scillies just the day before yesterday. And saw the banners on the quayside. The Artemis was then 185 nautical miles away.

On the Scillies rowing is a major sport - Gig racing as its called. My brother lives on the neighbouring island of St. Martins. Last year we all went out to see the race at St Agnes. I believe there are often crews rowing from the States to the Scillies. Not after records - just for the hell of it.
posted by jan murray at 2:15 PM on August 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


I've always wanted to do something like this. My favorite crossing story was Ed Gillette, 2200 miles from California to Maui in a kayak.
posted by Tenuki at 5:12 PM on August 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


My back hurts just looking at it.
posted by bwg at 5:15 PM on August 1, 2010


It took four guys, rowing in shifts to better the performance of two scrawny fisherman who were equipped with little more than a cedar row boat, a compass and a sextant.

Nineteenth century folks were just plain bad-ass.


Someday we'll be looking back at our civilization and saying: "They went to the moon with that ancient technology and no real rescue plan? That's bad ass."

Actually, come to think of it, sending men to the moon with slide rules was pretty bad ass even just 40 years later
posted by chrisamiller at 9:50 PM on August 1, 2010


My favorite crossing story was Ed Gillette, 2200 miles from California to Maui in a kayak.

Wow, that's a great story! Thanks for posting it. My favorite part was when he was trying to get a bearing and got miffed that there was a mountain blocking his sightline. He'd been alone in the ocean so long that it took him a moment to process that he was nearing the end of his journey.
posted by Burhanistan at 10:29 PM on August 1, 2010


I've read all the links but I'm still confused as to whether they had a safety and support team following them or whether they were actually solo

The boats have solar-powered desalinators. You can get more of a feel for it here. They don't normally have a support team and certainly the rules require everything they need has to be on board from the start.

I know a couple of people who've done long ocean rowing trips and they are seriously hard core. The first guy also holds a transatlantic rowing speed record in La Mondiale. I think the last thing he did was run a relay marathon from Land's End to John O'Groats.

The second guy did something even more hard core - rowing from Western Australia across the Indian Ocean to Mauritius, as part of a four man crew. Two hours shifts. Just shy of 1,000 of them. Non stop. To cap matters off the sliders broke, which meant for a fair portion of the trip they rowed with their arms only. They lost 20kg of weight per person on the trip. Their blog is here. When I looked at their progress, some of the people doing it solo hadn't managed to row themselves off the Australian coast and were just heading northwards - I'm guessing because they couldn't beat the currents. During the trip the GPS told them that some days, when the currents had done their thing they found they had progressed only 300 metres. Sheesh.
posted by MuffinMan at 1:02 AM on August 2, 2010


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