Meet the Men of the World Record-Breaking Polar Row Expedition

After 12 days of constant rowing, first man-powered vessel reaches the polar ice cap.

Imagine rowing 90 minutes on and 90 minutes off for 12 days straight through waves as high as 20 feet during freezing temperatures and bone-chilling winds, all while sitting in an open-air, 29-foot boat with no sails or motor.

But that’s what one team of intrepid explorers did as part of the ‘Polar Row,’ to be the first man-powered vessel to reach the polar ice-cap. They broke 11 world records along the way.

A five-man team began the rowing journey on July 20 in Tromsø, Norway, and rowed 520 nautical miles in nine days. Then, a few days later, a team of six men departed for Iceland, explains Men’s Journal

Men’s Journal interviewed six of the nine rowing members of the most “record-breaking man-powered team in history.” The team was international, and included a two-time Olympic Gold medalist, an expert sailor, an ultra-endurance athlete, and an adventure cyclist, among others.

The boat had cabin space where the men would eat and sleep. But “cabin space” is something of a misnomer, it was more like a small space where you couldn’t “sit up, lie flat, or find a dry spot anywhere.”

The men slept “shoulder to shoulder with our legs on top of bags and our heads carefully rested on the last inch of the mattress.” On top of that, they had to synchronize their movements whenever they wanted to get into sleeping position.

On a more poignant note, the men told Men’s Journal that a couple of seagulls followed them on throughout their voyage,  almost as if they were checking in on the team. The crew also saw plenty of whales and a pair of walruses.

And one lesson they learned from it all? “Extreme environments, such as the Arctic Ocean, generate a lot of gratitude.”

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