World of Sport

Hungarian man becomes first to canoe the Atlantic

World of Sport

Gabor Rakonczay

A Hungarian man has become the first person to canoe single-handed across the Atlantic.

Gabor Rakonczay took 76 days to paddle from Portugal to Antigua, and spent 50 of those days completely cut off from the world after his radio and satellite phone packed up when he capsized in early February.

The 30-year-old undertook his journey without the aid of satellite tracking equipment that would have relayed his position,  meaning that his wife back home in Hungary had no idea if he was even alive until he hit land in the Caribbean and, presumably, looked for a payphone that would accept forints.

Rakonczay began his epic journey four days before Christmas, and stopped only once en-route as he docked his 7.5m vessel in the Canary Islands for fresh supplies.

During the 50 days that he was out of touch with the world, the plucky canoeist feared that his family would believe him dead.

As it happened, his wife Viktoria - with whom he rowed the Atlantic in 2008 - was totally convinced that he was beset by nothing more than a few technical problems.

"I was nicely surprised by those at home," Rakonczay said. "Everyone was certain that if I run into any difficulties, I'd be able to solve them!"

Beautiful weather, 50 days without your wife nagging you... what's not to like?

The paddler tried lighting flares whenever he saw ships nearby, but nobody spotted him thus keeping his family in the dark.

"Some slowed and even changed direction as they likely picked me up on their radars," Rakonczay said.

"But I was often surrounded by waves 4 metres high and the canoe is less than one meter high, so it's most likely that they simply weren't able to see me...

"It was a great relief to reach port because it meant completing the journey and because my family could finally know for sure that I was OK."

The Atlantic has been crossed in a kayak several times, but Rakonczay is the first to do it in a canoe - the distinction apparently being that canoeists use a paddle with a single blade.

More photos and details are on Gabor's website:

Gabor's canoe puts to shame the battered old things you probably once had a go on at Scouts

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