CHATHAM — Though it’s not something he
readily speaks about, Andreas Rommel has risk-taking in his blood. The
grand-nephew of the famed General Erwin Rommel, the Desert Fox, is the
latest person to embark on a transatlantic row from Chatham this year.
If he is successful, 34-year-old Andreas Rommel will become the first
German to complete the feat. He is the fourth person, and likely the
last, to leave Chatham this season. Of the three other rowers, two
remain at sea (see sidebar).
According to ocean rowing experts, Rommel is departing dangerously late
in the season. While there is favorable weather off the coast of the
U.S. now, conditions will be much worse when he arrives off the coast of
Europe in two or three months, Ocean Rowing Society Executive Director
Kenneth Crutchlow said.
“It’s apropos that his biggest sponsor is an online poker house,”
Crutchlow said. “This man is a gambler.” Rommel’s boat bears the name of
several financial backers, including “Partypoker.com.”
Though he planned to depart last Monday, he was obliged to wait until
Wednesday for the delivery of two satellite tracking beacons from the
Ocean Rowing Society. On Thursday, a leaky hatch and various other
problems kept Rommel from departing his slip at Outermost Harbor. On
Friday, shortly after a replacement satellite phone arrived by overnight
delivery, Rommel was towed out by a Chatham harbor patrol boat and began
As of Monday, Rommel’s state-of-the-art ocean rowboat Lady Georgia was
located 61 miles east of Chatham; 3,013 miles lay between it and Lands
End, U.K., Rommel’s intended destination.
Though this is Rommel’s first attempt at ocean rowing, and his boat has
never undergone sea trials, the transatlantic passage is just the first
of a series of rows designed to take the adventurer across the Indian
ocean starting in May 2005, and across the North Pacific Ocean from
Japan to San Francisco in 2006.