Stéphane Joly-Meunier, pictured, will attempt to row solo across the Atlantic in the 2018 Talisker Whiskey Atlantic Challenge
Photo: Stéphane Joly-Meunier
Lux lawyer plans in training for 4,700 kilometre row across Atlantic ocean
A young Luxembourg lawyer will be steering his life in a different direction in December 2018, when he attempts to row solo across the Atlantic ocean.
For Stéphane Joly-Meunier, 35, competing in the gruelling Talisker Whiskey Atlantic Challenge is a dream he has held onto since he watched a documentary about the crossing as a child.
“I studied, became a lawyer and worked a lot. Now that I’m a bit more settled, I thought maybe it was a good time to pursue it.”
The challenge itself is inspired by Sir Chay Blyth’s 1966 journey across the Atlantic with John Ridgeway. Battling hurricanes, near starvation and 50-foot waves, the incredible pair successfully crossed the ocean in 92 days.
Thanks to modern technology and engineering, the French national expects the challenge to take him around 60 days. He expects to row up to 12 hours per day, in two-hour shifts (broken up by two-hour breaks to sleep, eat and do maintenance), to cover the 4,700 kilometres from La Gomera, in the Canary Islands, to Antigua, in the Caribbean.
“I like sailing. I don’t have a boat but I love the sea, sailing, water sports in general. So, I’m pretty much into all that goes along with water,” Joly-Meunier told Delano, adding that when he lived in Paris he would often head to the coast at weekends to do windsurfing.
Joly-Meunier, pictured, is already in training for the challenge, rowing up to four times a week Photo: Stéphane Joly-Meunier
While he has never rowed competitively, the lawyer explained that the technique for ocean rowing was very different compared to rowing on flat water.
“Because it’s a long row, you cannot row the same as if you were rowing 2,000 metres in a race. The technique is a little bit different; you need to be able to relax as much as you can in order to be able to row between 10 and 12 hours per day. You have to be very smooth and powerful,” he said.
Joly-Meunier is already in training for the challenge, rowing up to four times a week at the Luxembourg International Rowing Club in Remich. “This is just for the rowing part. For the strength training, I try to do at least one hour per day,” he explained.
He will also undergo navigation skills and technical training in France, beginning in the autumn, in order to prepare for every eventuality in the challenge.
“You need to work a lot on the preparation and be really ready to face pretty much anything. The harder you train, the better it will go,” he said.
And while preparing physically and mentally he, and a small team, are also working on finding sponsors to raise the €95,000 needed to cover registration, boat purchase, insurance and logistics, among other things.
“We would like to not just stop at this amount but to raise more because we’re representing a charity: the Luxembourg branch of “Toutes à l’école”, supporting the education of young girls in developing countries,” Joly-Meunier said.
In addition to being able to fulfil a long-held dream, the lawyer says as the first participant in the race from the grand duchy, he hopes to serve as something of a country ambassador. And, in a nod to the country’s roude léiwe (red lion) emblem, he has dubbed his challenge “Row (roar) like a Lion”.