The biggest excitement of this year's Ward Evans Atlantic Rowing
Challenge occurred a week before the transatlantic race began.
Rob Hamill, the New Zealander who co-crewed the victorious
23-foot craft in the race's previous running, in 1997, broke a
knuckle while interceding in a dockside marital spat between two
tourists. His replacement, countryman Matt Goodman (left),
joined Steve Westlake, also a Kiwi, to win the
Tenerife-to-Barbados oarathon in 42 days, more than three days
ahead of any of the 35 other boats. We snagged Westlake just
after he emerged from the drink.
SI: Over those 42 days, how many choruses of Row, Row, Row Your
Boat did you sing?
Westlake: None, actually. We did sing Bad Boys a few hundred
times. We had quite a few hours to kill.
SI: Was there ever a stretch during which you and another boat
were bow-to-bow on the open seas?
Westlake: We lost sight of all competitors at the end of the
first day. A couple of Australians led until about the halfway
mark, but we passed them without ever seeing them.
SI: Most of the way, all you wore was 30-plus sunblock. Were you
naked because you had no clothing sponsors?
Westlake: It was more the heat. If a female had rowed past, we
might have put shirts on.
SI: Was rowing nude for six weeks hard on the bottom?
Westlake: At times it was excruciating, like tearing a
hamstring. We sat on soft possum skin, but even that would get
SI: You rowed in two-hour shifts. How did you sleep?
Westlake: Quite well. We got up to 10 hours of sleep a day,
though never consecutively.
SI: After so long at sea, did you see mirages?
Westlake: We saw no submarines or sea serpents. One of our
competitors did say he heard a police siren, looked back and saw
a paddy wagon in hot pursuit.
SI: See any sea varmints?
Westlake: A 6 1/2-foot tuna almost jumped into our boat, but
mostly our encounters were with flying fish. Virtually every
morning we'd toss them out of the boat. Once some curious whales
came rather close. We chased them off by singing Day-O.
COLOR PHOTO: WARD EVANS ATLANTIC ROWING CHALLENGE