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French rower heads off on solo bid to conquer the north Pacific

June 24 2005

Frenchman Emmanuel Coindre set off on his solo bid to row non-stop across the north Pacific from Japan to the United States.

The adventurer left the port of Choshi, west of Tokyo, at 3:00 pm (0600 GMT) in front of around 30 onlookers, mainly journalists.
The 32-year-old, who has already rowed across the Atlantic Ocean five times, hopes to next touch land in sight of the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco Bay in three or four months after a journey of 9,000 kilometres (5,625 miles).

He will be following, 14 years on, the lead of compatriot Gerard D'Aboville who became the first person to row across the Pacific, rowing from Choshi to Ilwaco in Washington state in 134 days.
Coindre's course, just above 40 degrees latitude, is considered by professionals to be among the most dangerous in the world where 11 oarsmen have already failed in their attempts to conquer the biggest ocean.

The dangers on the great sea are in abundance, ranging from typhoons to trawlers.

"It's not unlikely that a mechanical or physical failure will halt our attempt," he said in a recent interview with AFP.

"I don't like too much the word 'feat,' I prefer to talk about an attempt at crossing, not because of pessimism but out of realism. I don't want to defy this ocean. I am making no illusions on whether it will let me through."

The Frenchman, however, has spent months making meticulous preparations for his adventure, seeking sponsors and subjecting himself to the arduous training of a top-level athlete.

At sea, Coindre plans to row 16 to 18 hours a day to cover around 100 kilometers. His yellow and black boat, christened "Inky Lady", measures just 6.5 metres (21 feet 8 inches) in length and weighs 650 kilograms (1,430 pounds) -- food included. It is equipped with the satellite-based Global Positioning System for navigation.

 "I'll row for three hours and then rest for a quarter-hour during which I'll eat or check on the boat," said the rower, who will sleep in catnaps around the clock with the first at 2:00 am.

Surrounded night and day by 90 percent humidity and constant noise, Coindre will have to content himself with a freeze-dried menu in his tiny storage compartment that includes curry rice with chicken and pasta with beef sauce.

He will wash it down with water processed through his desalination machine.

Coindre, who said he is "invigorated by a passion for learning" more about navigation and about himself.

  1983-2005 Ocean Rowing Society

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