Philadelphia man aims to break ocean-rowing world record
February 6, 2012By Kevin McCorry
Think driving across the Delaware at rush hour is tough? Try paddling across the Atlantic in the middle of winter — in a rowboat.
That’s just what recent Philadelphia transplant Toby Wallace plans to do.
He and seven others are trying to be the fastest team to ever row unsupported across the Atlantic Ocean.
They’ll be carrying all of their own equipment and supplies — including solar-powered generators to desalinate seawater.
As far as food, they’ll be bringing enough for each man to eat 6,000 calories per day.
Yet, since they each expect to burn 8,000 per day rowing, Wallace anticipates that he’ll lose about 20 percent of his body mass by the time they land on the opposite shore.
Despite this hardship, he says that the physical demands of the journey won’t actually be the toughest.
“Most difficult I think is the mental challenge -- being on a boat in very close proximity with seven other guys … and just having to do that day after day after day with basically no change in conditions and nothing to look at, just ocean and sky around you,” Wallace said.
So how do they deal with that monotonous isolation? Wallace says they’ll do lots of singing, and will even give each other long-winded lectures in their individual areas of expertise.
For Wallace, that will mean working against the choppy Atlantic while pontificating about asset investment management. Originally from the U.K., Wallace most recently moved to Philly from Sydney. His company, Aberdeen investment, with U.S. headquarters at 17th and Market, is sponsoring his trip.
Set to embark Wednesday from the Canary Islands off the coast of North Africa, Wallace’s team hopes to arrive in Barbados — about 3,000 miles away — in under 30 days.
The current world record for that course, set last year, is 31.5 days.
However long it takes them to cross, Wallace has three plans: hug his wife, eat a feast, and fall asleep — for a long, long time.