Four trans-Atlantic rowers have been rescued 400 miles north of Puerto Rico after a massive wave capsized their research vessel early Saturday morning. The four men were attempting to become the first to row from Africa to North America and at the time of the incident were 850 miles from their finish line in Miami.
The expedition was organized by OAR Northwest and the Canadian Wildlife Federation. Seattle’s Patrick Fleming, Jordan Hanssen, former Canadian Olympic rower Adam Kreek and Markus Pukonenand left the Senegal coast in January. They hoped to use the journey as an educational and scientific mission.
“We have a plan in place in case this happened,” said OAR Northwest’s Greg Spooner, “The plan was successful in that we’re getting the guys back. It’s too bad we have to end now.”
After the wave tipped the boat over, the rowers deployed a life raft and triggered tracking beacons in their life jackets. Spooner said a U.S. Coast Guard C-130 flew from Puerto Rico and spotted the quartet. A passing cargo ship then plucked the men from the water, leaving the stricken rowboat behind.
Spooner said he was flying to Puerto Rico to retrieve the rowers. They are expected to be back in the Northwest by the end of the week.