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Hampton’s Greatest Sporting Moments: Chris Martin rows across the Atlantic

Over the next term, HSC will be attempting to discover the identity of Hampton’s Greatest Sporting Moment, with your help. This feature looks back on Chris Martin’s feat in 2005: crossing the Atlantic Ocean. This will compete against three other moments in Group Four. Vote in our Twitter poll on Friday to decide your favourite moments – the winner will progress to the quarter-final stage!

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It seems axiomatic, but the Atlantic Ocean is a force of nature. With an area of 106.5 km2, it is a beast that few would mess with. Yet for Chris Martin OH (1999), the size of one of the world’s most dangerous seas would prove no obstacle, rowing across the ocean, from East to West, in only 68 days.

A traditional Olympic sport, rowing is a common outdoor pursuit for many adolescents – on a lake, that is, not across the sea. And on a lake is how Martin’s career in the sport began.

Martin was a resounding success as a junior rower – he first raced for Great Britain aged only 16 and would go on to compete in six consecutive World Championships, returning with a medal from each.

But despite his initial success, Martin was dropped from the GB team, and turned his hand to a new challenge: ocean rowing. In 2005, he became only the 31st person to race across the Atlantic, along the 4,700km East to West route, as part of the Woodvale Atlantic Rowing Race. He conducted observations on the Atlantic current along the way, finishing the race in just 68 days.

After a gruelling endeavour of that kind, Martin could not be blamed for hanging up his oars and resorting to a more relaxed career. But the Old Hamptonian would do nothing of the sort – he turned his attention to his next test: the Pacific.

Three years after rowing across the Atlantic, Martin’s preparation was done, and he left Japan with partner Mick Dawson in the hope of breaking a World Record. 190 days, a food re-supply and a de-tour later, Martin and Dawson were rowing under the Golden Gate Bridge.

They became the first people to ever row across the North Pacific, and were awarded a Guinness World Record for their travails, also becoming the feature of a Discovery Channel documentary.

Hampton’s rowing success is well-documented, with numerous Olympic medallists, but Martin’s feats of human endurance and ingenuity is an inspiration to all those who visit the Boat Club to this day.

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