The ORS Int. is the official adjudicator of ocean rowing records for Guinness World Records


Coindre Seeks To Cross Atlantic, Again

08 July 2004

by Alan Pollock

 CHATHAM — There’ll soon be a virtual traffic jam of rowboats attempting the west-to-east passage from Chatham to France. Veteran rower Emmanuel Coindre and newcomer Andreas Rommel were both expected to begin their transatlantic rows this week, joining Jean Lukes and Anne Quéméré who left last month.

While some adventurers see a transatlantic row as a once-in-a-lifetime achievement, Coindre sees it as a continual lure. If he completes this row, it will be his fourth crossing. It leaves many people—including some in the sport—asking why Coindre is rowing again.

“It’s a style of life,” he said. Though he previously crossed the Atlantic along the southerly Trade Winds route by “hydro-cycle,” Coindre’s rowing career began in 2001 when he crossed by the southerly route in 57 days. In July 2002, Coindre rowed out of Chatham on his first attempt at the more difficult west-to-east route, and arrived in France in 87 days.

Coindre tried the west-to-east route last year, but had to abort his trip when his boat capsized on Georges Bank and would not right itself. The Coast Guard retrieved Coindre but could not recover the boat. It was ultimately found by a Nova Scotia fisherman, retrieved by Coindre and repaired.

In January of this year, Coindre broke the world record for the fastest passage along the Trade Winds route, making the crossing in 42 days.

“It was my training,” he said coyly. His goal now is another crossing along the northern route. Coindre completely repaired his boat, the 19-foot Ladybird, repainting it yellow and modifying fins on the bottom to help the boat right itself after capsizing. In addition to food and water, Ladybird is equipped with a satellite telephone, two GPS receivers, an emergency position-indicating radio beacon, and two desalinating machines. It does not have satellite tracking Argos beacons, however.

“I know it’s better to cross with a maximum of safety,” he said. But Coindre said he rows without benefit of major sponsors or fund-raising teams, and cannot afford to rent the beacons. “If you have money, it’s no problem,” he said. In 2002, the Ocean Rowing Society arranged for the beacons to be donated by Le Shark in London, and in 2003, his Chatham host family arranged for the beacons.

As he has said in the past, Coindre maintains he is not attempting to break the record for the fastest west-to-east passage, currently held by Gerard D’Aborville. If he completes the passage, he will become the first person to cross twice in both directions, the first to cross the ocean five times, and the first to cross twice in one year.

“If the weather wants, I can break the record,” he said. “But it’s not my goal. My goal is to finish.”

Coindre was waiting for changes in the weather before departing, but expected to row out sometime this week.

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