Like many fathers with young children, experienced rower Andras Bakos is concerned about what sort of shape the environment will be in by the time his son grows up. That's why in 2011, he began planning a trans-Atlantic rowing expedition to raise awareness of environmental issues. The boat that he had custom-built for the trip is now ready to go, and it looks like it could just as well be used for rowing to Mars.
Bakos started by teaming up with LOMOcean Design – the same firm that previously created the TURANOR PlanetSolar solar-powered yacht, and the Earthrace alternative fuel-powered boat. He tells us that his goal was to "design a unique ocean rowing boat that is safe, fast and reconsider all elements of traditional trans-Atlantic rowing from scratch."
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Several months later, with a design in hand, he began looking for a builder. He decided on Flaar, a company based in his native Hungary, that's known for its vacuum-formed carbon epoxy sandwich-structured boats. Construction began at the end of 2012, and the finished trimaran – named the Samson – is now waiting to make the New York City-to-Paris crossing.
The vessel measures 13.4 x 2.9 meters (43.9 x 9.5 ft) and has a dry weight of 650 kg (1,433 lb) – by the time it departs with its full compliment of supplies, that weight will likely go up to an estimated 1.2 tons (1 tonne). It has no motor or sails, relying entirely on two rowing stations for propulsion. Plans call for Bakos and New Zealand-based expedition partner Erik Harrewijn to take turns rowing in two-hour shifts, 24 hours a day.
Among Samson's design features are a wave-piercing nose, and the ability to right itself if it capsizes. Additionally, an alarm system will notify one rower if the other one falls overboard.
Other electronic systems planned for the expedition include an Automatic Identification System to warn other watercraft of its presence; a navigation system with autopilot; full LED interior and exterior lighting; a water purification system (which can also be operated manually); a FleetBroadband antenna and modem for internet; and, a series of mounted webcams that will provide footage for daily video reports. Everything will be powered by two Efoy fuel cells.
The 3,800-mile (6,116-km) crossing is expected to take 60 to 80 days, and is scheduled to begin next May. In the meantime, Andras and Erik are doing a lot of training, and are refining the setup of the rowing stations for maximum efficiency and safety. They're also looking for people to help fund the venture, on Indiegogo. Pledge amounts start at US$5.
"I had decided to row across the Atlantic ocean in a way that nobody else did it before," Andras told us. "Certainly it is a personal challenge as well (if it would not be, better to not even start) but the main cause is to draw the attention of the widest public possible for the critical need of the environmental preservation, as Earth is the only place where our children can live."
More information on his expedition is available in the pitch video below.
For another example of a one-of-a-kind boat designed for a human-powered ocean crossing, check out our article on the WiTHiN. It was a pedal-powered sort of "super sea kayak," that Canada's Greg Kolodziejzyk had built for a planned British Columbia-to-Hawaii expedition.