Only three Australians have ever done it. Ten times the number of people have made it to the summit of Mount Everest. Twice the number have been into space. What are we talking about? It’s the last frontier considered by many as the one of the toughest physical, emotional, and logistical challenges on earth made more difficult by raging seas, howling winds, sharks, blisters, salt rashes, sunstroke, and sleep deprivation.
Imagine rowing across the Atlantic Ocean. Yes, all 3,000+ nautical miles of it. To date, only 435 people have successfully done it and less than 200 in a two person team from East to West. In December, two Aussies will take on this challenge starting in La Gomera in the Canary Islands with their GPS set on the finish line in Antigua. Facing the challenge of a lifetime once they leave the safety of the harbour, they will be on their own in the vast open ocean at the mercy of nature.
When I spoke with Dylan Jones, I started to understand the question I had first and foremost in my head. Why are you doing this? And once we started to talk, the question transformed into how could you not do this!
Who is Dylan Jones?
Dylan comes from our industry and knows the sea. Having spent the last five years based in Europe and the US completing his studies and sea-time to qualify as an Officer of Watch for vessels up to 3000GT, he has already completed five successful Atlantic crossings and one Pacific Crossing in the last eight years. Add to that a list of yachting achievements and qualifications he has also given back to the community, volunteering for two months in a small village in Northern Thailand and launching a charity to support the purchase of machines to turn plastic waste into building materials in Nairobi. The quote, “The world is changed by your example, not your opinion” came to mind after hearing Dylan’s story.
A love of the water
Growing up between Australia and Europe, Dylan’s passion for adventure and the ocean was inevitable after his parents sailed to Australia from the UK; they spent years exploring the Pacific Ocean. It is no surprise really that he counts Sam Weir among his friends, well known in the ultra marathon community and holder of various Australian long distance records. He has completed a 217-kilometre foot race across Death Valley in 2016, won a 450 km single stage foot race in 2015, and like Dylan he has also summited Mt. Kilimanjaro. He has also been a prominent member of the surfing community from a young age making these two adventurers the perfect pair.
Neither of us had any kind of pivotal moment when we decided to row the Atlantic. We have both just always loved adventure and have an appreciation for pushing our comfort zones into new challenges. The satisfaction you get from throwing your self in the deep end and proving to yourself that you can do it is pretty hard to beat.
It’s more than personal
This is not a merely personal challenge. “We want to inspire others, especially the younger generations who are maybe about to leave school and feeling a bit lost with what to do with their lives. We want to show them you don’t have to be afraid to push yourself and take to on big challenges. If you have two arms and legs and a healthy body, then nothing separates you from anyone else except the willingness to push yourself to the limits.”
And so it is fitting that the money they raise during this journey will go to the Make A Wish Foundation that helps grant wishes for young people who don’t have the same opportunities they do due to debilitating illness. Their aim is to raise $100,000 AUD for this very deserving charity; Dylan and Sam don’t intend to only win the race but also to break the world record for a pairs boat, crossing the Atlantic.
What to expect
Dylan and Sam will be challenged physically and mentally whilst rowing a constant, relentless, shift-pattern of two hours on and two hours off. They will be using their down time only to eat, make water, make repairs, and attempt to catch up on well-deserved rest in a boat not much bigger than a standard family car. The current world record for a pairs team is 40 days, and although they intend to come into Antigua in record time, they will need to carry enough provisions to be self-sufficient for up to 70 days.
With Dylan’s background working on yachts and having his own OOW, he is more safety conscious than most ocean rowers. They have undergone a full refit of their vessel, updating all of their equipment, adjusting rowing positions, and relocating various components of the boat to ensure they are water tight and easier to manage. Despite the fact that the boat is self-righting they have lowered the centre of gravity to try to maintain as much stability as possible. These two have been doing most of the work themselves and thanks to the support and guidance from local experts in Australia, they have learned to make moulds with carbon fibre and construct parts of the boat using a foam core.
Want to get involved?
There are already some great companies in the industry helping them in this journey from QuayCrew, Simrad to Solar4RVS, and Dylan told us they have just created a “100 Club” as well. “For $100AUD we will put your name on the boat. All of these names for the people who are supporting us will be stuck all over the cabin, so we will be looking at them while we’re rowing and give us an extra push no doubt when we’re have some tough days.”
We will be checking back in with Dylan and Sam periodically to keep you updated on how their preparations are coming together this fall.