If former Olympic gold medalist Adam Kreek was looking for a little excitement in his life, he’s undoubtedly found it.
Kreek and three other extremists are making their final plans to row across the Atlantic Ocean in late December. A member of the Canadian men’s eight rowing crew that finished first at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Kreek and his new crewmates from OAR Northwest will be rowing from Dakar, Senegal to Miami, Fla., a voyage that could take anywhere from 60 to 100 days. The journey has been dubbed the Canadian Wildlife Federation Africa to the Americas Expedition and will cover 6,700-kilometres of ocean, a world record for rowers. It coincides with 2013 having been declared the International Year of Water Co-operation by the United Nations.
“It’s a big crazy goal I found intriguing after the 2008 Olympics,” said Kreek, who will hold a news conference Thursday in Victoria, B.C., to further outline trip preparations. “When you go to the Olympics, you’re part of a system that’s built up around you. What appealed to me about rowing across the Atlantic was, ‘Here’s a great physical challenge and we have to build an organization.’ It’s really been an enjoyable process.”
Kreek will be joined on the ocean crossing by Markus Pukonen of Tofino, B.C., and Jordan Hanssen and Pat Fleming of Seattle. Hanssen rowed with a crew across the Northern Atlantic from New York to England in 2006. He and Kreek met after the Beijing Olympics at rowing race in Sausalito, Ca. Months after their initial talk about the 2006 row, Hanssen called Kreek and said he was keen to do another Atlantic crossing and wanted Kreek to come along.
Kreek was initially reluctant. He said Hanssen took that as a good sign.
“There are two types of people,” explained Kreek. “Those who like to adventure but are balanced about it; and then there are those who are bat-crap crazy. We’ve been planning this for three years and we’re not just rowing across the ocean; we want to communicate a positive message.”
The crew members will take turns rowing 24 hours. They also take shifts “studying the state of our planet’s oceans as well as the state of their personal health with help from the University of Victoria, the University of Washington and a number of other institutions,” according to their mission statement.
The crew will use an 8.8-metre long rowboat with an aft cabin, where the rowers will sleep and record information. The crew will have GPS tracking, a satellite phone, a wind turbine and solar panels for operating communication equipment along with a desalination unit to convert salt water into fresh water for drinking.
Aside from the scientific aspects of this challenge, Kreek is also hoping to inspire young people by promoting “outdoor adventuring.” The crew will be posting videos and updates on websites as the journey unfolds.
Kreek won 27 medals competing internationally for Canada in 13 years of rowing and also earned a degree in geotechnical engineering and hydrology from Stanford University.