Do you think you could row a boat across an Ocean? There is a Frenchman that is addicted to it, no matter the danger of typhoons, giant waves and sheer exhaustion. His name is Emmanuel COINDRE, and even though he holds innumerable records he doesn’t even call what he does a feat. He modestly calls them attempts.
At sea, Coindre typically rows 16 to 18 hours a day to try to cover around 100 kilometres, though weather and the seas can play havoc with that target. His sole concession to the advances of the modern world is to equip himself with a satellite-based Global Positioning System for navigation. He rows non-stop for three hours (try it!) and then rests for a quarter-hour, snatches a quick bite and only sleeps in catnaps around the clock – day and night.
And with the meticulous training of a world class athlete he has managed through sheer passion and discipline to cross all three great oceans. As if that were not enough he had just completed his eighth Ocean crossing. He left Dakar in Senegal on April 17, 2019 at 6 am to try alone and without assistance an east-west course of nearly 2,500 nautical miles which would take him to Guyana. Imagine 57 days of loneliness in the middle of the northern hemisphere, penalized by tricky weather, unable to take the most direct route due to adverse winds, rowing through thunderstorms in, fortunately, his unsinkable eight-meter wood/epoxy canoe.
Imagine the winds and gusts coming down with violence, powerful waves hitting and breaking on the deck. To Emmanuel however all the moments are magical no matter that the sea is brutal, angry and tricky. And this June he succeeded again against the odds with this East West North Atlantic crossing from Senegal to Guyana.
Who would know more than this remarkable sailor about the importance of protecting our marine environment – goal so important to him that he dedicated this Transaltlantic North crossing for the benefit of the Inspire Foundation, which works to create awareness of preservation of the oceans and emphasizes collaboration which it puts to good effect also in providing humanitarian support.
If he were applying for a job and had to précis his incredible experience as a mariner (mostly as a rower) in a resume it would look something like this:
610 days rowing solo without assistance non stop, 45 capsizes, 52,984 km, 28,606 nautical miles covered, Atlantic Ocean (6 crossings), Pacific Ocean (1 crossing), Indian Ocean (1 crossing). And it’s all recorded for posterity in the Oxford Encyclopedia of Maritime History where he is listed as the holder of multiple records and world premieres (16 titles) in ocean rowing alone, without assistance and without stopover.
The sea, is Emmanuel’s universe, the source of his inspiration and energy. He is completely attached to this relationship with the elements and the marine landscape where fantasy and the almost religion come together. It’s a place of trial and initiation for him that makes incredible demands on his body and soul. The pleasure is also intoxicating, its power, its beauty and its mysteries. He is reported as encapsulating his feelings about what he does, along these lines: “sailing is a question of harmony; give the best and when you give your all, then the realities of happiness are there.”