French rower costs U.S. taxpayers big-time

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A Frenchman trying to row from Cape Cod, Mass., to his home country failed for the third time in his quest — and cost U.S. taxpayers about $80,000 in the process.

Charlie Girard had to be rescued last week about 150 miles off Cape Cod, according to a report in the Boston Globe. Plagued by poor visibility and deteriorating conditions, he called it quits 10 days into his attempt, and a Coast Guard jet and helicopter rescued him from his 21-foot custom rowing boat.

Girard will not be billed for the $80,000 expense, which includes six hours of total air time for the jet and helicopter, and the cost of support crews. Petty Officer Etta Smith, a Coast Guard spokeswoman in Boston, said policy is to use taxpayer money to pay for rescues, according to the newspaper.

Girard has offered to give the boat to a fellow rower — provided he can find it and tow it ashore. That rower, an American, says he’ll use the vessel for his third attempt from Africa to New York.

Click here for a report in the Cape Cod Times.