NY Times- It was not an auspicious start for Bryce Carlson, who was setting out from Canada to row across the North Atlantic by himself.
About three days later, his boat capsized for the first of what would be about a dozen times.
Those five-minute increments would eventually stretch into 38 days, 6 hours and 49 minutes, setting a new speed record for a west-to-east solo and unsupported crossing of the North Atlantic, according to the Ocean Rowing Society International. Mr. Carlson also became the first American to complete that feat.
He personally took on about $85,000 in loans and credit card debt to underwrite costs of the trip, including the custom construction of his 20-foot boat, Lucille, named after his father’s mother. An additional $45,000 came from sponsors and online fund-raising.
The debt was a source of stress, he said, adding: “I’m a teacher. I don’t have $85,000 sitting in a bank account.”
He started his journey weighing about 170 pounds and estimated he lost about 15. Rather than boasting forearms worthy of Popeye, he said at the end of his trip he was more sinewy than muscular from the high-intensity endurance of rowing.
Eating became an uncomfortable chore. To take in the 4,000 to 5,000 daily calories he needed, he would frequently have to eat when he was not hungry. In addition, he developed an exercise-induced bout of acid reflux, which made eating even more troublesome.
He said the preparations leading to his trip had taken a significant emotional toll and strain on his relationships. He said he was looking forward to spending more time as a dedicated coach and teacher and partner to his girlfriend.
Another day, another meaningless rowing achievement from an overzealous, bored high school teacher. Do these people not understand the concept of summer vacation? That’s the entire point of being a teacher (unless you’re Miss Pinkard from the most recent season of Last Chance U, who might be the most inspired educative figure in America). It seems that every year, someone cobbles together a futuristic spacecraft row boat, loads the vessel with rice cakes and magic jars that will convert your pee back to water, and sets off for the journey of a lifetime. And due to the frequency with which these jaunts are completed, I have absolutely no frame of reference for how difficult this really is.
Let me tell you why Bryce Carlson isn’t inspirational: he took on $85,000 of debt, abandoned his girlfriend for over a month, and lost 15 pounds of healthy muscle to become a stretched-out rack of sun baked turkey jerky. You think his girlfriend wants to snuggle with him once he returns? You think she wants to feel his Vietnam P.O.W. hands running gently down her back like the talons from a bird of prey? This is not a warm, kind-hearted man; this is a relentless, self-serving individual who will never be satisfied under the constraints of mortality. Most people who row will hop on the erg and bang out a 5k before work. Most people who run marathons are satisfied with the challenge of 26 miles. Not Bryce Carlson, endurance athlete extraordinaire and debt-riddled egomaniac.
On paper, the feat is impressive. The boat capsized a bunch. He had to tap his compass a couple times to get it going again. Maybe he drank a little salt water. He faced tons of adversity and warded off countless attacks from bloodthirsty sea turtles whose beak-like mouths snapped at his fungi-infused toenails from the communist coves of Canada to Britain. And yet he persevered.
At least he’ll have some stories for his students this fall!