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Even Rowers Have Multihull Mania

In the world of offshore rowing, two (or more) hulls may prove to be faster than one.

January 6, 2011
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Well, if the America’s Cup has gone multihull, there’s no reason the rest of the boating world can’t do the same. For decades, ocean rowers have slogged their way across the seas in monohulls of one sort or another. (I know, I don’t get it either, but there’s no accounting for taste, or masochism, apparently.) And they have suffered, died, and set records doing it.

Now comes Big Blue, an east-to-west Atlantic record attempt in a pretty wacky-looking catamaran that will be crewed by 16 maniacs, I mean adventurers, from all walks of life. Big Blue sets off this weekend from Morocco, and the crew aims to row its way across the trade-wind belt to Barbados in less than 35 days and 6 hours.

www.rocexpedition.com

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Roc Expedition, which specializes in building fast ocean-rowing vessels, is organizing the Big Blue attempt. Another Roc design—Triton, a 40-foot trimaran for 6 crew—is also on standby for Team Hallin, which is about to set off from the Canaries for Barbados in another record attempt. The time they have to beat is 33 days, 7 hours, and 30 minutes, but they’re hoping to crack the 30-day barrier. (Note to Ocean Rowers: please, please, standardize your E-W Atlantic record course. All these different departure points get confusing.)

www.teamtriton.co.uk

But the Big Kahuna, of course, is Big Blue, a 40-foot cat that can accommodate four rowers in each hull. The boat looks like one of my son’s Lego projects, but we’re about to find out if it’s fast, too.

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www.rocexpedition.com

Notably, the skipper is 50-year-old Angela Madsen, from Long Beach, Calif., a paraplegic who, in December 2007, rowed across the Atlantic with a French amputee in 67 days (neither spoke the other’s language, so that must have been a good ocean-rowing sitcom). In 2009, she rowed across the Indian Ocean with a crew, and then for good measure circumnavigated Great Britain with a crew of four women in a record-setting 51 days. Oh yeah, did I mention she is a grandmother?

You can follow both of these oared multihull record attempts (track Hallin here, and follow Big Blue’s blog here). It’s going to be a mesmerizing month on the Atlantic. But I doubt Russell, Larry, and the AC design teams are paying much attention.

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The Team Hallin guys look pretty fit and serious:

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The Big Blue team looks, well, interesting:

PROMO roc expedition from Kelly Saxberg on Vimeo.

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