In November of this year, two young Indiana college students, Sarah Kessans and Emily Kohl, will attempt to row across the Atlantic Ocean in a 2,900 nautical mile rowing race from the Canary Islands to the West Indies. The race is one of the most extreme physical sports challenges in the world; more people have climbed Mount Everest than have rowed across an ocean.
If they can achieve their goal, Kessans and Kohl will be the youngest American women to do so. The boat they will use, The American Fire, has no motor or sail of any kind, and is solely powered by the two rowers, who trade off rowing in 2 hour shifts. The vessel must contain everything they need for a possible 75 day trip, including meals, a reverse osmosis water machine to provide drinking water, and radio and navigation equipment.
The Woodvale Atlantic Rowing Race in 2005 will be the fourth such event, and will be comprised of 41 rowing teams of two. The race begins in La Gomera, Canary Islands, and follows prevailing winds and currents across the Atlantic to Antigua, West Indies. Two support yachts follow the fleet for emergency assistance. Rowers face extraordinary physical and mental challenges on their 60 day journey, encountering storms, sharks and physical exhaustion.
Lifelong athletes, twenty-something Kessans and Kohl are both award-winning veteran rowers on Purdue Universities’ rowing team. They are hoping to raise the funding for their entry into the event by garnering donations and corporate sponsorship from their website. The total cost of their entry in the race is around $200,000.
UPDATE: Kessans and Kohl were unable to complete their challenge when their boat was capsized by a large wave. They were rescued at sea. Video of their rescue here: