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


German safe after rowboat flips in mid-Atlantic

ST. JOHN'S, NFLD. - A bulk carrier rescued the great-nephew of a famous German general Thursday after his rowboat overturned in the North Atlantic, 600 kilometres east of Newfoundland.

Andreas Rommel, whose great-uncle Erwin Rommel was known as the Desert Fox because of his tactics in North Africa during the Second World War, was attempting a solo cross-Atlantic voyage when heavy seas damaged his rowboat.

Rommel left Cape Cod, Mass., on July 16 in an attempt to be the first German to accomplish the feat. He was bound for England when rough seas flipped his partially covered rowboat.

The bulk carrier Federal Elbe rescued him from the five-metre waves, and was taking him to its destination at Becancour, Que.

Search and Rescue officials said Rommel was not harmed in the incident.

Earlier, Rommel had sent dispatches to the Ocean Rowing Society about his brush with the remnants of hurricane Alex.

His self-righting boat flipped over twice before returning to an upright position on that day.

"It felt like something was smashing the boat with a sledgehammer," he wrote on the society's website. "It was pitch black and I was inside. All of a sudden, my boat capsized... I felt like a hamster in a cage-wheel."

The mishap took a toll on his equipment, filling the deck compartments and small sleeping quarters with water.

"It took me two hours to get all the water out," he wrote. "Now I won't have warm food anymore. I feel like I'm turning into Robinson Crusoe in the middle of the ocean."

Rommel wrote that he was rowing 17 hours a day after recovering from that adventure.

At least three other rowers have attempted the crossing in similar craft this year, monitored by the Ocean Rowing Society.

A French man, Jean Lukes, also had to be rescued when he fell ill about 130 kilometres south of Halifax on July 11.

Written by CBC News Online staff

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