Four rowers plan to circle Vancouver Island — for starters

Four extreme rowers are preparing for a nonstop circumnavigation of Vancouver Island in this 29-foot boat. Jordan Hanssen (left to right), Adam Kreek, Greg Spooner and Richard Tarbill get ready for flip tests in Puget Sound.
Alan Berner | MCT
Four extreme rowers are preparing for a nonstop circumnavigation of Vancouver Island in this 29-foot boat. Jordan Hanssen (left to right), Adam Kreek, Greg Spooner and Richard Tarbill get ready for flip tests in Puget Sound.
Posted Oct. 21, 2011, at 4:45 p.m.

They’re young, fit, determined — and maybe a little crazy.

They’re four guys in a boat, a 29-foot, oar-powered vessel they plan to row around Vancouver Island nonstop for 14 days next April.

To do so would break the current 15-day record for the 700-mile circumnavigation of the island.

But that’s only a prelude to an Africa-to-South America row in late 2012.

“We’re four guys in a giant bathtub,” said Adam Kreek, of Victoria, British Columbia, who has a gold medal in rowing from the Beijing Summer Olympics.

Greg Spooner of Bellingham, Wash., is a physical therapist who, with teammate and travel writer Jordan Hanssen of Seattle, set a record rowing from New York to England five years ago.

Richard Tarbill of Seattle is a Boeing flight-test engineer who rowed for the University of Washington.

On these trips, their daily routine is row, eat, sleep, row, eat … “That’s pretty much it,” said Spooner.

Two men at a time row, while the others hunker down in the stern.

To fight boredom they sing, play word games, joke and do a live video feed of their challenge.

There’s eclectic music on the speakers, from rock to classical to sea shanties.

Their dehydrated food is enlivened with water from a solar-powered desalinator.

This trip will have a few simple “luxury” items: a bucket with a toilet seat, a mandolin played by Kreek, a couple of books, fishing gear and a satellite phone to talk to family back home.

“We’re like a band,” Spooner said. “When they make great music they stick together.”

Read more about it at oarnorthwest.com.

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