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

 


Whilst the new race will make new heroes and hopefully break new records we should not however forget the man who was the real record breaker and did it first

Letter from Alistair Cowling, son of late Martin Cowling - a man, who in 1969 sponsored
John Fairfax's Transatlantic row

I will be watching with great interest the 2005 race as soon as it gets underway but will always be reminded of some of the history.

 As much of your copy and statistics confirm it is a formidable feat to row the Atlantic, regardless of how many people are pulling on the oars. But it is the solo attempts that we must truly applaud. To row the 2550 odd nautical miles alone, and against all that the sea can throw at you is a truly courageous feat of endurance and determination. Whilst the new race will make new heroes and hopefully break new records we should not however forget the man who was the real record breaker and did it first.

John Fairfax became not only the first to make a solo transatlantic crossing in a row boat but was the first to do it from East to West.

Unfortunately too many records are usurped by derivatives of faster times, smaller boats, different routes etc that the initial achievement gets forgotten.

 John Fairfax was the first person to make this solo crossing. He started on 20 Jan 1969 from the Canary Islands and landed in Florida 180 days later on 19 July. So newsworthy was his achievement at the time that he received a message of congratulations from Neil Armstrong and the crew from the flight deck of Apollo 11, who earlier that day had walked on the moon!! He then rowed the Pacific a few years later with his wife and set another record.

It was my late father Martin Cowling who sponsored John Fairfax (and even appeared with him on This is Your Life in c.1972.) In those days it was not big companies who sponsored these voyages but individuals who had a passion for breaking records. There was no money to be made and in relative terms the equipment was as expensive as it is today.

 I write to you in the hope that this small part of history can be reflected on your web site so that the new competitors and followers alike know the history behind the route.

 Thank you for reading this far.

Yours

Alistair Cowling


  1983-2004 Ocean Rowing Society

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