Ollie Hicks, Allelujah
With three sets of oars, two months’ worth of provisions and one seriously tricked-out rowboat, a 23-year-old British adventurer is behind schedule in his solo crossing of the Atlantic Ocean.
Ollie Hicks pushed off from a marina dock about 20 miles south of Manhattan May 27th in a 24-foot open rowboat, hoping to become the youngest rower ever to make the 3,000-mile trip alone. His destination: Falmouth, England, an estimated 400,000 strokes away.
Hicks’ red boat is no fishermen’s dinghy. Equipped with a satellite telephone and a computer, it is a self-righting vessel with watertight cabins at the bow and the stern.
And he has packed its cargo holds with creature comforts, including a desalinator that makes seawater drinkable, an iPod music player, a small gas stove, a cache of dehydrated food and a six-pack of Yuengling beer. And of course, he figures he’ll have a chance to fish, so he brought along a pole.
Hicks, a wiry, soft-spoken veteran of endurance tests, hopes to making the crossing — which has been done by others — in less than 62 days. He plans to row for 14 hours a day across open seas, strapped into a seat, using 91/2-foot carbon fiber oars. He has previously competed in a desert marathon, an 800-mile bicycle race and a 500-mile kayak run down the Yukon River.
Among the hazards he’ll face within the boat: blisters, hand cramps, strained muscles, saltwater boils. Then there’s the cold, the wind, the potential for 50-foot waves. And the isolation.
Hicks is not a veteran sailor. He spent much of his six-month training regimen sailing to learn navigational skills. His charted route will help him take advantage of prevailing winds and ocean currents, he said.
You can keep tabs on his location via a Web site, www.virginrow.com.
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