American First -- Cross-Atlantic Rowing Win

ByHelaine Tabacoff

Aug. 22, 2006 — -- After braving 67 grueling days at sea, the rowboat James Robert Hanssen arrived this morning in Falmouth, England, giving Americans the win in the 2006 Shepherd Ocean Fours Rowing race.

Jordan Hanssen, Greg Spooner, Brad Vickers and Dylan LeValley will be in the record books as the first Americans to cross the North Atlantic in a rowboat -- and the first rowers ever to row from mainland United States to mainland United Kingdom.

Team James Robert Hanssen reached the finish line at 14:44 Greenwich Mean Time on Aug. 18, with an official time of 68.97 days.

The team was one of four that attempted to row across the Atlantic in the race that began June 10 in New York Harbor.

Three other teams competed in this 3,100 nautical miles race, all of whom were from England.

The four American rowers, all in their 20s, met at the University of Puget Sound where they were members of the crew team.

While there, they won four consecutive Northwest Conference Rowing Championship titles, so they were no strangers to the open waters.

Last year, the team trained and practiced how to live on the small 29-foot boat.

Their hard work certainly paid off. While two of them rowed for three hours, the other two slept in the tiny space reserved at the front of the boat, and kept a look out and then switched.

This process was repeated every three hours so the other rowers could take a short sleep break.

They had to pack enough food and supplies to last up to three months, and a support vessel followed all of the teams in case of emergencies.

Their boat was so small that they had to be careful of large barges and other ocean liners that might miss them. Luckily they arrived on dry land safe and sound.

This trip wasn't as easy as they might have hoped.

They suffered a few setbacks along the way, as the Atlantic Ocean is not a forgiving place.

Early on, they encountered a tropical storm that forced a slight delay and found that the last 100 miles were the most difficult of their entire journey.

Strong ocean winds forced them to drift backward, and high waves produced harsher conditions than they expected, creating a slight delay for their arrival.

One of their biggest challenges was figuring out how to get their boat back to the Northwest on their minuscule budget.

Luckily two cargo shipping companies, Lynden, Inc., which is based out of Seattle, and Cargolux, based out of Luxembourg, have offered to fly the boat back to Seattle free of charge.

The American team was rowing for more than just pride or patriotism.

They rowed on behalf of the American Lung Association of Washington because team captain Jordan had lost his father when he was 3 years old to an asthma attack.

They want to raise awareness and funds for asthma and other lung-related diseases.

Their hard work and determination paid off. They raised funds from corporate sponsorship, local donations, and their own money.

For the last two months, they received onboard text messages from fans, friends and family who sent notes and words of encouragement.

People also posted personalized messages to the crew on their Web site for a $100 donation, and are still able to do so, as well as purchase T-shirts with their logo.

The information is available on their Web site. They worked incredibly hard to raise money and awareness for asthma and other lung-related illnesses.

Congratulations to Jordan Hanssen, Greg Spooner, Brad Vickers and Dylan LeValley.

They have made America proud!

For more information, check out their Web site and the American Lung Association of Washington at

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