Sunday, August 31, 2008

Seattle Times: Seattle rower 10 days from world record

Reprinted from the Seattle Times Blog:
In December we told you about Erden Eruc, the Seattle man who set off last July on a solo trip to Australia -- in a rowboat.

Nearly 10 months and a big course change later, Eruc is still in the middle of the Pacific, waiting for a resupply that should recharge his extended trip not long after he puts his name in the record books.

On May 10, 305 days into a trip as unpredictable as the typhoon season he's hoping to avoid, the perennial adventurer will have spent more continuous days at sea than any previous solo ocean rower.

First -- the course change. Around mid-February, stubborn weather patterns made the land down under seem unnervingly remote. This online tracker shows where Eruc is headed now -- the Philippines.

"I guess we can say that nature changed course," said Ellen Hecht, a board member with Around-n-Over, the non-profit organization supporting Eruc's quest to circumnavigate the globe by human power, of which the rowboat trip is a part.

Eruc's still battling feisty currents that want to push him more northward than he wants to be. But the key to this trip, Hecht said, is flexibility. "He's going with the flow, so to speak."

Next -- the resupply. In an effort organized by Around-n-Over volunteers, Kenneth Crutchlow of the Ocean Rowing Society International is set to deliver 400 pounds of supplies to Eruc mid-trip.

The resupply, which will include more food, a seaworthy rowing seat and a new beacon is "critical to reduce the complications back to only what nature mounts against me," Eruc wrote in one of many online dispatches he posts via PDA and satellite phone from his seat on the ocean.

If he makes it -- and he intends to -- Eruc will become the first Washingtonian and the first person in history to row solo across the North Pacific, east to west.

But thanks to technology, he's not really alone.

"He calls from the sea," Hecht said, "and it's like you're talking to your next-door neighbor."

To read Eruc's dispatches from the sea and learn more about Around-n-Over and the journey the Seattle adventurer is sharing with students around the world, visit the group's Web site.

P.S. -- Eruc has been nominated for Ocean Rower of the Year by the Ocean Rowing Society International.

Update: This post has changed to clarify Eruc's precise achievements in the rowing community.

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