The Atlantic was the first ocean to be crossed by oar-power. Two Norwegian clam diggers, Frank Samuelsen and George Harbo set off on an open wooden boat from New York on June 6, 1896 and arrived in France 55 days later.

It was seventy years before another attempt was launched by two British men, Chay Blyth and John Ridgway in 1966. The pair departed from Newfoundland and endured 50 ft waves, hurricanes and sharks before reaching Ireland 92 days later.

Three years later, John Fairfax became the first person to row solo across an ocean, departing from the Canary Islands and reaching Florida 180 days later. The first twelve ocean rows were completed with limited, if any, modern technology. Ocean rowing has grown in popularity and has been noted as “the New Everest”. Ocean rowing first became mainstream when Sir Chay Blyth launched the “World’s Toughest Rowing Race”, a race from the Canary Islands to the West Indies. This race was first held in 1997 and has since been held roughly every two years.

Despite the rise in popularity created from the races, ocean rowing remains one of the most extreme sports on the planet; especially for solo crossings: more people have been into space and more people climb Everest each year than have successfully rowed solo across an ocean.

For more information on ocean rowing, please visit the Ocean Rowing Society.