Colin O’Brady and his team of five other rowers are preparing to start the latest adventure for the man who has climbed Everest, and the rest of the Seven Summits in record time no less, skied to both the North and South Pole, and became the first person to cross Antarctica solo and unsupported. For his follow-up to that major, which got underway last fall, O’Brady will now attempt to travel by rowboat from the southernmost tip of South America to the Antarctic Peninsula.
Dubbed The Impossible Row, the plan is for O’Brady and this teammates — Fiann Paul of Iceland, Cameron Bellamy of South Africa, Jamie Douglas-Hamilton of Scotland, and American Andrew Towne — to depart from Cape Horn aboard their rowboat, the Ohana. They’ll then spend the next three weeks or so, rowing across the Drake Passage with a goal of reaching the Antarctic Peninsula. To achieve that, they’ll man the oars 24 hours a day, seven days a week, taking 90-minute shifts, in order to maintain their progress.
The Drake Passage is considered one of the most difficult and challenging sections of ocean found anywhere on the planet. The 600 mile (965 km) corridor connects the Atlantic, Pacific, and Southern Oceans, and is well known for its tempestuous weather. Strong winds, big waves, and very rough seas are common in the area, even for large ships passing through the region. A small rowboat could potentially be tossed around quite easily, making this a dangerous undertaking.
According to O’Brady’s posts on social media, the Ohana was loaded up with supplies and gear yesterday in preparation for departure. Today, the boat itself was then loaded onto a support ship that will follow the rowers as they head south. They’ll now travel to Cape Horn, where the rowboat will be lowered into the water to begin the journey, which will likely take place later today or first thing tomorrow.
Despite the hyperbolic name, this row has been done before. American Ned Gillette led a team that consisted of three other adventurers on a Drake Passage crossing by rowboat back in 1988. That team took 14 days to complete the crossing, but used a small sail to aid their progress. O’Brady’s “Impossible Row” will be done completely under human power, which gives it a slight distinction.
I expect we should start getting updates on the Ohana‘s progress over the next day or two. We’ll be keeping an eye on the team in the weeks ahead as they undertake this difficult challenge.
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