Grant Rawlinson off on Tasman Row

Kiwi adventure Grant Rawlinson is back for another go at rowing the Tasman to complete his epic trip from Singapore to NZ, but this time with the help of  Luke Richmond

Luke Richmond on his four-person Atlantic Crossing

Below is an interview with Grant prior to his August attempt and at the bottom  his update on round 3 with Luke


The 44 year old Kiwi had  travelled 11,300km to date,  rowing the first 4200km from Singapore to Darwin with partner Charlie Smith.  Then Grant cycled alone across Australia to Coff’s Harbour.  He tried to row the Tasman solo in the same boat last year, and turned back due to adverse winds, coming back into shore 24 days and 2000km of a massive loop later.

Grant & Luke left Eden Australia last week and have been pushed South on par with Tasmania.
Follow map

August interview with Grant

Why the expedition from Singapore
The inspiration is rowing from home to home, a human powered journey from my current home Singapore to my original home NZ using no engines or sails and as little support as practically possible

Why the Tasman solo?
The more I thought about it the more I wanted to take on the final leg solo. The Tasman is as much about gauging the wind, preparation and ultimately luck to get across as having physical grunt. You will never fight the winds on the Tasman no matter how many people you have onboard. I also enjoy being out there and relaying completely on myself.

Where are you heading for?
Aiming for New Plymouth a strait line distance of 2200km but could end up in Milford sound depends on the wind

What’s your strategy to get across?
Now I am dropping much further south to Eden to try and catch the stronger winds in the southern ocean closer to 40 degrees. No one has made it successfully to NZ by this route – only 2 people have genuinely tried it. The colder and rougher water sends most people north. I am banking on bigger and rougher seas but a faster crossing down south. As long as I can hang on for the ride.

(note – Eden is a fishing port located at south eastern tip of mainland Australia. It has a sheltered harbour and an immigration/customs clearance point and is as far south as I can access on the mainland.)

How does the Singapore to Aussie compare to the Tasman leg?
Completely different. The first leg to Australia was extremely hot, extremely tiring and extremely busy with shipping traffic. The Tasman is cold, windy with hardly any vessels except for the first 20 miles of shipping lanes close to the Australian coast.

Why this time of the year is best
Yes spring time and el nino for a more consistent westerly wind flow

How will you keep in the zone to make good progress for the crossing?
All my progress relates to the wind. The most important thing in my life put there is the wind. I can’t row against it. Its going to be a massive test taking on the southern route and I want to be the first person to cross without any support from Australia to New Zealand.

Tell us about your craft and history?
Its a beautiful state of the art ocean rowing boat, equally setup for one or two persons. Self righting, carbon fibre, all the safety features of an ocean going yacht. Made by Rannoch in the UK.

How do you protect your body against to elements & salt?
I have a goretex expedition dry suit. I am anticipating a very cold and wet crossing. I will wear this even to sleep in if its really cold and rough. I also have sharkskin under garments which are fantastic.

What food will you use?
All freeze dried – back country cuisine. I eat very well onboard, coffee and milk (tins) – its no hardship in the food dept

what electronics do you take?
Music and podcasts and a kindle application on my iphone. And four satellite comms devices.

Do you have a rewards program for progress or treats on the boat?
No program – I do enjoy standing up and swearing my head off at the sea at the end of a good day to let her know that she never got the better of me that day.

What level of training was required?
Lets not talk about training – lets talk about preparation. The level of preparation is immense. I would bore you to death talking about it so I wont. Lets just say if you are not spending years – and I mean years preparing and physical training is just 10% of that then you should probably not be out there.

Who do you admire?
Colin Quincey was a wonderful supporter of my expedition and we developed a unique relationship over the last two years. I was especially looking forward to seeing him on the beach when I landed in NZ but when he passed away so quickly last month it made me very sad. I have personally dedicated my crossing to him and his magnificent effort in 1977.

The cost to run an expedition like this?
It cost has my family, myself and my wonderful sponsors and support team close to NZD$400,000

Grant report prior to leaving last week.
Within the next few days I will depart Australia once again in my third attempt to finish off the Rowing from Home to Home expedition, a journey from Singapore to New Zealand completely by human power. I have currently travelled for 164 days covering 11,700km since leaving Singapore on the 3rd January 2017.

I have made 2 solo attempts to finish the expedition with the final stage of crossing the Tasman Sea from Australia to New Zealand. The first a 24 day 2,200km effort last year which ended when I was washed back into the coast of Australia further away from New Zealand than where I departed! The second attempt was in August and October this year which I aborted on day four due to some critical equipment breaking onboard and I was subsequently picked up by helicopter.

I have made a number of changes to the plan for round 3. Strengthening the boat in key areas, changing the para anchor set-up, waiting for slightly warmer temperatures and also bringing a second ‘engine’ in the form of Luke Richmond onboard as a team mate. I have known Luke for sometime, and with his previous adventure track record and experience level, the fact that like me he is a ‘back country boy’, and coupled with his ability to join at very short notice, I am very privileged to have him onboard – let’s see if he feels the same way at the end of the journey! You can read more about Luke here.

I thought long and hard about this decision, and even though I very much still want to make the crossing solo, I believe having a second rower in my boat will increase the probability of success by around 20%. And at this stage of the expedition, with the bigger goal in sight of completing the first human-powered journey from Singapore to New Zealand, and a team who have been extremely supportive and patient to date, I want to give everyone the best chance of finishing the expedition on the third attempt. And as a good friend told me recently – “Only donkey’s don’t change their minds”.

Currently we are focussing on preparations, planning and risk protocols. Our departure will be very shortly, it will be as low-key as possible, and we will start updating more once out on the water.

If you are interested to follow the progress – then updates will be posted through this website, in the form of written blogs and voice posts from the Satellite phone. The blogs will also be shared on the expedition facebook page here. You can also see our position in real-time, updated on a 10 minute basis from the MAP link above.
In the meantime – please enjoy the artistic talent of Sarah Steenland who captured the second attempt’s failure and the plan for round 3 in such a beautiful, clever and humorous way!
Over and out,

Related Articles

Back to top button