Cremona sets sight across the Atlantic

Monday, December 27, 2010, 18:45

Thomas Cremona is aiming to become the first Maltese person to row across the Atlantic Ocean on the Sarah G, when he sets off with a 6-man team to row from Morocco to Barbados, a distance of over 5,000km (to set a world record). The Atlantic Ocean Row Team will be attempting to break the mid-Atlantic rowing speed record on the Sara G, a six-man sculling boat. The record currently stands at 33 days, 7 hours and 30 minutes, established in January 2008, held by La Mondiale, a boat built in the early 1990s, which consisted of a 14-man boat, skippered by Leven Brown. The first Ocean to be deliberately rowed was the Atlantic by Frank Samuelson and George Harbo, two Americans born in Norway, in June 1896. This sport of ocean rowing, is as much a psychological as it is a physical challenge. Rowers often have to endure long periods at sea with help often many days away.

Thomas Cremona with KMS Deputy Chairman, Bertie MuscatThe Atlantic Ocean Row Team 2011, will be departing in early January, as long as the weather permits, from Southern Morocco to start their adventure. The crew will consist of a 6-man team, which will be lead by skipper and boat owner, Matt Craughwell , 32 years old from the UK, the most experienced crew member having skippered Sara G through her first crossing of the Atlantic and who participated in the failed La Mondiale crossing. Attempts by La Mondiale to improve this record proved unsuccessful and in 2009, she was subsequently lost at sea. Matt, will also be in charge of logistics but will also be rowing. Thomas went on to reveal that all the members of the team have been in contact with each other regularly, although they have actually never met. He reassured that each member has the same goal: rowing across the Atlantic in the shortest possible time.

Thomas went on to explain that the Sara G (a six-man sculling boat) is 11.1m long with a 1.8m beam. She was built in 2007, with three sculling positions on the deck thus catering for a crew of 6 – 3 rowing while 3 rest. The boat displaces c. 1,750kg fully loaded (with a crew of 6 aboard her). The forward cabin sleeps 2 (1 at any one time apart from storm conditions) and the rear cabin will sleep 4 (2 at any one time apart from storm conditions). The hull is made of Duflex – a composite material with balsa core sandwiched between fibreglass sheeting. The entire boat is then wrapped in fibreglass for additional rigidity. ‘Sara G’ is provisioned to be fully self contained and unsupported for a 60 day voyage. The boat will utilise its own water desalination machine plus 300 litres of fresh water ballast stored in 4 litre containers. The desalinator relies on electrics but also has a manual pumping capacity in the event of power failure. Power is generated by 6 solar panels, charging two 40ampH gel batteries for redundancy. Safety is paramount. A complete inventory of modern safety equipment (Liferaft, Sat Phone, EPIRBs, Flares, Lifejackets etc.) will be in place on each expedition. On 30 December, 2007, the Sara G smashed the 67-day record for crossing the Tasman Sea from New Zealand to Australia, coming in at 32 days with 10 days under sea anchor. Though we may be under-powered we believe that with advances in technology, tactical skill and the will to break the record… statisically there is a 50% chance of us making it across successfully; we will endeavour to ensure that it will be broken.

In case of a storm, Thomas revealed that they will need to assemble the sea anchor, in order to reduce the speed at which the current is pushing them in the opposite direction and strap in the oars, for although we are carrying spares they do break. The last attempt to cross the Atlantic took 57 days with 5 of them under sea anchor. The six members will be divided into two teams who will be competing unofficially with each other to beat one another with best rowing times. As a team we will be rowing 2 hours on 2 hours off, 3 men resting 3 men rowing. This means in total a team member will expect to get a total of 6 hours of interrupted sleep. It is important that the boat does not stop and that the team keeps a look-out for the possibility of any approaching ships. Food intake will be based on expedition food packs consisting mainly of high energy ration packs having 5000 – 6000 calories a day, where one merely has to add water to them.

Thomas’s principal goals in participating are: to become the first Maltese to have rowed across the Atlantic; to attempt to break La Mondiale’s record of 33 days 7 hours and 30 minutes, to raise awareness to cancer patients and survivors that there is ‘life beyond cancer’. As a cancer survivor himself, he went on to say that “cancer can be part of your history but should not control your future” and finally as part of his challenge to raise money for Puttinu Cares. Thomas concluded that the major challenges he will have to overcome is understanding how my body will be able to cope after so many hours in such stressful circumstances and understanding further the power of my mind and how it will react to being in such a stressful scenario.

Bertie Muscat, Deputy Chairman for Kunsill Malti għall-iSport praised Thomas Cremona for his efforts and stated he is a role model which many can look up to. He went on to say, how important it was that one looks forward and not back, saying how Thomas does just this – as he did not look at what could stop him but what drove him forward.

As part of his preparations, Thomas also took on the World Record Challenge to row for 24 hours on the Concept 2 ‘Longest Continual Row’ in the ‘Individual Men 20-29 Heavyweight’ category which he set on 11th-12th December rowing for 24 hours. Thomas thanked his principal corporate sponsors Bettson, Riverdream, MacMed, KPMG, Satariano, and Josies who are helping to cover the costs of the trip. He went on to thank various other persons, including the media, Kunsill Malti għall-iSport, as well as his family and friends who are fully supporting him in his cause. Anyone who wishes to donate and support Thomas can do so by donating money to Puttinu Cares by sending a text message to 50617380 to give €2.33, 50618939 for €6.99 and 50619225 for €11.65 or can phone 50049543 to give €7.00, 50049545 for €11.00 and 50049540 for €23.00.

Once the challenge begins, the team’s progress can be followed online by visiting http://system.marinetrack.com/eventviewer/?event=worldocean and or http://worldoceanrowing.com/track-the-crew/. Thomas will also be updating his person blog www.oceanrowmalta.com.





3 Comments

  1. Richard Chetcuti says:

    Good Luck Thomas All Malta is with you. God Bless You

    [Reply]

  2. Richard Chetcuti says:

    Hi Thomas how are you? I know you since i used to teach you at St.Benild’s and you were keen on sports.
    Thomas Malta is behind you . You are a freindly guy and you will do it. In March we see you back. Thomas God bless you. You are doing such a beautiful thing which i was with you. As i said Malta is supporting you as well your nice parents. For sure u are going to start 2011 in a beautiful way but in March for sure we see u back happy that u done a great job. The President of Malta Prime Minister and Leader of the opposition are with you.
    Matthew Good Luck. God is with you.

    [Reply]

  3. Oswald Spiteri says:

    Wishing Thomas all the Best of Luck and GOD SPEED. We will be following your progress.

    [Reply]

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