Four-Man Seattle Team Will Try to Row Across Atlantic

ByABC News via logo

June 9, 2006 — -- Row, row, row your boat gently across the North Atlantic ... at least that's what four rowers from Seattle hope to do.

Starting June 10, the team of rowers, called Ocean Adventure Racing Northwest, will race three British teams in a 3,100 nautical mile journey from the Statue of Liberty in New York to Falmouth, England, in a rowboat.

The rowers are ready for the challenge.

"It's about 29 feet of boat for as much guy, but we've spent enough time in this boat, rowing it on the Pacific Ocean and in and around the northern Puget Sound that we've got comfortable with it," said Greg Spooner. "Plus, we've all lived together for the last year, so it's been a nice way to get comfortable with each other and make sure it will all work out."

Ocean Adventure Racing Northwest is composed of Spooner, 26; Jordan Hanssen, 23; Dylan LeValley, 23; and Brad Vickers, 23. They all attended Washington's University of Puget Sound together.

Spending 40 to 70 days together in a small boat -- the estimated time of the trip -- may pose more challenges than sharing an apartment. When not rowing in three-hour blocks, Spooner, Hanssen, LeValley and Vickers will take turns sleeping in three-hour shifts in a little cabin at one end of the boat. The rest of the boat is open.

"When we're rowing, we're always susceptible to the elements, so we'll have jackets and hats onboard," Spooner said. "But that's really about all you can do."

Only 23 people rowing solo -- or as part of two- or four-person teams -- have successfully completed the west-to-east journey across the Atlantic. None have been American, according to the Ocean Rowing Society in London.

The members of Ocean Adventure Racing Northwest want to finish the race for both national pride and personal reasons. They want to raise money for and awareness of the American Lung Association. The boat is named the James Robert Hanssen, in honor of Jordan Hanssen's father, who died of asthma when Jordan was 3.

There will be a chase boat following all four boats in case of emergency. But the Seattle team hopes it won't have to use its services.

"If we accept any help from any other boat, we'll be disqualified from the race," Spooner said.

You can monitor Ocean Adventure Racing Northwest's progress on its Web site

"We're going to send pictures back to our Web site, we'll have a blog going every day, and there's map, too," Spooner said. "So you can see exactly where we are the whole way across from New York to Falmouth, England."

ABC News' Robin Roberts and Bill Weir contributed to this report.