LOCAL AUTHOR AND ADVENTURER, CHARLIE WILKINS, HAS ROWED ACROSS THE ATLANTIC OCEAN
3194 miles to date and less than a 100 miles to go.
The boat is called The Big Blue and it was designed specifically to shave three days off the current world record. Their skipper is Angela Madsen, a 50 year old grandmother of three and the first paraplegic woman to row 3000 miles across the Atlantic and has broken numerous records since then. vimeo.com/18995549
The Roc Expedition crew is composed of 16 unique individuals from a 21 year old student from Guelph Ontario, to 69 year old Tom Butscher (former Canadian Ice skating champion) from Toronto Island who will become the oldest man to have rowed across the Atlantic. The team will not break the new record established by Sarah G earlier this month but they will accomplish plenty of firsts: the first Georgian, the first Australian woman, the first catamaran to cross the ocean unassisted, the largest group of Canadian ocean rowers and the first award winning writer, Thunder Bay’s Charlie Wilkins. There are 7 Canadian’s on board from: Thunder Bay, Toronto, Guelph, St. Joseph Island, and Montreal.
The crew assembled in Agadir, Morocco at the end of December and they have spent 48 tumultuous days aboard their boat, Big Blue. What began as a record breaking row will end as the ultimate test of human endurance and stamina. The crew was buffeted by strong winds and waves that sent them off course and made rowing sometimes impossible. Fortunately no major injuries were sustained and the boat, the first of its kind has withstood everything the ocean could muster. They have observed the rules of the international Ocean Rowing Society which means the boat can only be powered by rowers, no sails, and no support boat following them. Filmmaker Kelly Saxberg and Director of Photography Damien Gilbert are in Barbados documenting the voyage. This spirit of adventure was captured in March 2010 Doc Challenge film “Life is but a Dream” the only Canadian finalist of 12 to play at Hot Docs. Doc Challenge begins again 3rd march 2011 – the day the boat is slated to arrive in Barbados.
Meanwhile Dylan White, one of the young Canadian rowers on board, has documented the entire voyage. The boat was fully rigged with camera gear and sound equipment to be able to capture the story on the high seas.
Additional information, the link to the live webcam that will record their arrival, as well as crew bios including photos, is available by visiting bigbluerow.com. Information about the rules for transatlantic crossings and progress reports on all of the boats attempting to make the crossing this year can be found at oceanrowing.com.
Media enquiries can be made by contacting Kelly Saxberg
directly in Barbados at 1 246 439 2822 or by local cell at : 1 246 829-3821
Angela Madsen is a 50 year old Grandmother of three from Long Beach, CA
she competed in the 2008 Paralympics in Beijing, China. She is a 4 time World Championship Gold Medalist and a Level 3 Rowing Coach. She is now one of the First women to row across the Indian Ocean and the first disabled woman to row across 2 oceans.
Charles Wilkins has written sixteen books, including Walk to New York, about his 2,200-km hike from Thunder Bay to New York City, The Circus at the Edge of the
Earth, about his travels with the Great Wallenda Circus, and, most recently, In the Land of Long Fingernails: A Gravedigger’s Memoir, about the summer of 1969, during which he dug graves in a big corporate cemetery in the east end of Toronto.
SYLVAIN is a 46 year old emergency physician from Quebec, Canada.
He has completed 8 Ironmans, and started rowing in 2007. He will use the Expedition
to fund raise for an open source project in Health informatics, a project that, he believes, has the potential to help community of practice in medicine to collaborate in creating tools that will improve the quality, the efficiency and security of the care provided to their patients.
TOM lives on Toronto Island and was born in Zurich Switzerland. He raced bikes as an amateur and skated nationally and internationally for 8 years.
“I started rowing in 2000 and I have crossed Lake Ontario 5 times, then I rowed the length, 340 km I am being told I am the only rower to go across and back non-stop 100 k in 12 hours.”
DYLAN will use the row to fundraise in support of the empowerment and rights of Indigenous people all over the world. He completed a 8400km cycling trip in the summer of 2009, As the cinematographer on board, he will use HD cameras to document every step of the way.
STEVE is a 55 year old maple syrup producer (and physician) will row with his son Nigel on the voyage. “I grew up on Toronto Island and spent most of my childhood
fishing and messing about with sailboats. A high school dropout at 16, I experienced 8 years of the "real world" workforce before returning to university in Kinesiology
followed by a degree in Medicine.”
NIGEL : “I'm 21, competed at the national level for the Lakehead University track
team. In more recent years have been leading month long canoe trips down (and up) Northern Rivers. I heard the old man was trying out to cross the Atlantic.... in record time. I checked it out and was immediately drawn to the whole thing. I've been pumpin' the guns since then.”
ZACH, born and raised in Toronto, is a university student.
“During the summers I travel to a small town called Pickle Lake where myself and my fellow crew members work together to put out forest fires, and sometimes get to
travel out of province to lend a helping hose.”
RYAN is 23 years old and currently studying Environmental Science at the University of Tennessee where he coaches the club rowing team (Tennessee Crew) and works for the University’s Outdoor Program as a manager and trip leader.
DAVID was born and raised in Tbilisi, Republic of Georgia Since 1997 David is the head of Roc Expedition he is also the founder of Shelter Island boats. David holds a Masters Degree in economics from Tbilisi State University and was instrumental in the foundation
of the Tbilisi stock exchange as Georgia gained it's independence. David will be the FIRST Georgian to cross any ocean in a rowing vessel.
ERNST is a transport specialist from Vienna. He has 8 years of competitive Bike Racing under his belt. He works for Transport Companies in Austria and abroad. He was with the Austrian Armed Forces on different Peacekeeping/enforcement Missions between 2001-2005 in Kosovo and on the Golan Heights.
LOUISE lives in Charleston, S.C. and started rowing with the Louisville Rowing Club after graduating from Earlham College. She was part of a two person team who attempted the Atlantic Challenge crossing from the Canary Islands to Barbados
and has since successfully competed in the Marathon Rowing Championships in Natchitoches, La. in a double, octuple and dragon boat.
LIZ works as a Community Manager for a Digital Marketing Agency. Liz started rowing in 1999 for St Anthony’s High School in South Huntington NY and then went on to the University of Rhode Island where she rowed varsity all 4 years. She has medaled in various races with URI, including Gold in Varsity 8 at ECAC Metro and at the Atlantic10 Championships. In 2007, with the US Rowing Under 23 Development team, she placed 2nd in the Women’s Championship 8 at the Royal Canadian Henley Regatta. Liz is also raising funds for the Sloan Kettering Memorial Hospitals pediatric unit to help out a family in need of financial support. Her cause is called Row for Hope.
ALEKSA began her rowing career in college at Stony Brook University, and was later recruited to Dowling College in Oakdale,New York. At Dowling she was a member of the college's first women's eight to be invited to the NCAA DII Rowing Championships in 2006. She graduated from Dowling in 2006 with a Bachelor's degree in Sociology-Anthropology, and continued on to recieve her Master's degree in Elementary Special Education. In the spring of 2009 she returned to Dowling College to become the Assistant Women's Rowing Coach. Aleksa also works as an EMT-Critical Care and as a substitute special education teacher.
Margaret is the first Australian woman to row an ocean.
She is an expedition manager specialising in polar and ocean expeditions. She works with teams on every aspect of their expeditions and adventures, from crew selection through to sponsorship and PR.
I’m a 24-year-old final year medical student from England, hoping to start neurosurgical training in a couple of years. I’ve done coastal rowing for a few years now and love the bigger waves and focus of the team within the sport. I enjoy long-distance cycling and running and am hoping to do my first Ironman after the crossing (although doubt I’ll catch up with Sylvain!).