Monday, April 15, 2024

Canadian rower survives battle against Atlantic


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HE WAS 74 days at sea all alone.
There were times when he became so tired, it took weeks to recover his energy.
To top it off, he celebrated his 60th birthday on the ocean.
Today, French Canadian rower Jean Guy is on dry land, after arriving to a hero’s welcome at Port St Charles yesterday.
Guy, the single rower in the boat Maple, left the Canary Islands last year as he and other rowers across the Atlantic pit skill and endurance against the mighty forces of Mother Nature.
Embraced on the pier by his wife Lucie, who had sailed out earlier in the morning to meet him off North Point, and welcomed by fellow rowers Alex Bland and Harry Martin-Dreyer, who had hailed him as they passed him in their boat Alexandra, Guy admitted the whole experience seemed unreal.
“I’ve taken video, pictures but my best memory will be I did it,” he said.
Holding a beer and awaiting his welcome-to-the-island pizza, Guy said there were times when the tedium of rowing made him feel as if he was in a parallel world.
“It really felt unreal. You see the same thing every day. You do the same thing every day. You don’t have news from around the world. It’s really as if the world stops for 74 days,” he said.
Guy admitted that while there were no major highs or lows, there were, however, “great moments”.
“There were moments of anxiety. There were moments when I was scared. For example, with three weeks to go I became scared for whatever reason and then a week later we were supposed to have big conditions, big wind, big waves and I was just looking out and the sea was just as white as I had ever seen it and I reconciled myself with the ocean so I wasn’t scared anymore,” he recalled.
He remembered, however, some anxious moments at the start of the race when he kept looping the Canary Islands.
In addition rowing against the wind and the current took such a toll that it took him “maybe a couple of weeks after that to get back into reasonable shape”.
During his time at sea, he celebrated his 60th birthday and, for that day, he started his “special day of rowing” half an hour earlier.
Guy urged people to row their own ocean. They don’t have to do it literally, like he did, he said.
“It could be anything else. It could be starting a company, it could be taking care of your mother; it could be talking to your daughter. Take your ocean and go with it,” he advised.
For him, his satisfaction came when his boat touched the pier at Port St Charles.
“We do these things but when you come in that’s when you realise why,” he said.
Fellow rowers Bland and Dreyer, who arrived on Saturday, said their trip across the Atlantic took them just over 50 days.
Calling it amazing to be on land after their time at sea, Londoner Bland said: “Crossing the Atlantic was crazy. It was a crazy thing to do and it was a very emotional thing to do.”
Noting there were many highs and lows and there were times when it was psychologically and physically difficult, Bland said: “You always look towards the end target which, in our case, was Barbados and the rum punch.”
For Dreyer, the trip was “pretty horrible”.
“There was the odd sunset or sunrise that was really wonderful, or sometimes a night when you just get the clearest stars in the world.
But most of the time it was like a war of attrition against the elements,” he recalled, adding it was a relief to berth at Port St Charles.


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