Black Caps inspire long distance rower

ANGELA CUMING
Last updated 05:00 24/01/2013
Paul Gerritsen
RECORD ROW: Cambridge's Paul Gerritsen on the boat he describes as a 'floating torture chamber'.

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Sometimes it takes being in a boat 800 kilometres off the west coast of Africa for someone to reveal they are a true Black Caps supporter.

"Really, New Zealand won the cricket? That's the best news I have heard all week," former world champion rower Paul Gerritsen said when the Waikato Times told him the score.

Gerritsen, born and bred in Cambridge, will today enter day nine of a world record attempt to row across the Atlantic Ocean. A team of seven - Gerritsen and six Britons - are attempting to set the world record for rowing the 4828 kilometres from the Canary Islands to Barbados.

The record is 32 days. They left the Canary Islands on January 10 and will need to reach Barbados by February 9 to set the world record.

The crew are rowing Titan, an 11-metre boat made of lightweight carbons, titanium, nylon and aluminium.

It has been an eventful first week for Gerritsen and his team-mates as they got accustomed to life at sea, but speaking from the boat yesterday, Gerritsen said his journey had "improved a hundred-fold" in recent days.

All seven crewmen row in shifts, 24 hours a day, the shortest shift being one hour when the sun is at its hottest.

They average 70 nautical miles (130km) a day.

"At the end of day eight, when the sun was going down, we were rowing into the sunset and going down five and six-metre swells, that was pretty amazing," Gerritsen said.

"Things started to get a little better from there. Sometimes you look around and all you can see is the ocean. There is nothing else, maybe a few fish, and that's all. It's quite a comforting feeling in a way.

"It is a desolate feeling, but you never feel lonely."

Gerritsen, who was a last-minute addition to the crew after Andrew McCowan, of Matangi, came down with stomach sickness, says he misses his Waikato home but will plough on.

"I say if the Black Caps can with a cricket match then I can keep going," he said.

And what does he look forward to most when he makes landfall?

"Standing up, I can't wait to stand up."

Follow the crew's progress at the Facebook page "Andrew's W R Gallagher Atlantic Row" or titanrow.com

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- Waikato Times

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