American rowers make history

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AUG. 22 — Four men from Seattle won the Shepherd Ocean Fours Rowing Race  and have become the first Americans to row across the North Atlantic from mainland New York to mainland England.

Team OAR Northwest , made up of Jordan Hanssen, 23, Dylan LeValley, 22, Greg Spooner, 26 and Brad Vickers, 22, crossed the finish at Bishop’s Rock Lighthouse in the Isles of Scilly on Friday morning about 250 miles ahead of their nearest competitors, news reports say. The men rowed their custom 29-foot rowing boat, called the James Robert Hanssen, about 3,200 miles over almost 69 days.

“This has been an amazing experience for us, and we are all very emotional at this moment,” Greg Spooner says in a news report. British race organizers Woodvale Events informed the rowers’ families that the men looked strong at the finish. “They also said they looked thin, hairy and smelled really bad,” Spooner’s father, Dave, says in a report.

The four graduates of the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, Wash., set off from Ambrose Light June 10 with three other teams of four. OAR Northwest was the only American entrant in the first Sheperds Ocean Fours race.

In 2005 a team of four Dutch rowers, called Vopak Victory, crossed the Atlantic along the same route in 60 days, 16 hours, 19 minutes. The men had been attempting to beat the record set in 1896 by George Harboe and Gabriel Samuelson, Norwegian fishermen who rowed an 18-foot skiff from New York to the Isles of Scilly in 55 days.

— Jason Fell