Graduate plans extreme 'getaway' with solo Indian Ocean row

by Reuters
Thursday, 24 December 2015 11:37 GMT

By Paul Carrel

BERLIN, Dec 24 (Reuters) - One graduate with a craving to get away from it all in 2016 intends to row solo across the Indian Ocean, quitting the Berlin start-up scene to seek freedom and listen to some audio books in peace.

Francesco Tomba, 26, is undeterred by his lack of significant rowing experience. He has already completed a lone six-month swim around an Indonesian island, a cycling expedition in the Himalayas and a winter living under a rock in the French Alps.

"There's no other getaway like this," he said of the row he plans to start from Australia in mid-2016, probably in July.

"These days I don't have any time to read and I'm really looking forward to having hours and hours of 'reading time'," he said in his Berlin flat. "I'm going to audio book the hell out of it."

Others have rowed solo across the Indian Ocean before: Swede Anders Svedlund's 1971 crossing is the first on record.

However, Tomba aims to be the first to row alone from Australia to mainland Africa, arriving in Tanzania - unlike previous rowers who arrived in Madagascar or Mauritius.

Tomba, a British-Italian mathematics graduate, expects the journey to take around four months in a 7-metre (23 ft) boat that he is having purpose-built.

To prepare for the crossing, he is joining a six-man crew rowing across the Atlantic in January. Otherwise, his training is based on an intense one-hour daily 'cardio' workout of push-ups, sit-ups and other exercises using his own body weight.

"There's a draw towards doing something where you have to deal with situations in the moment," he said. "You have to make decisions as quickly as possible, otherwise - well, there is no 'otherwise'. You just have to."

Tomba expects choppy conditions during his row across the Indian Ocean, the third largest after the Pacific and the Atlantic. He will have a satellite connection to stay in touch with friends and family, and an onshore route planner.

Is he afraid? "Of course. That is part of the draw. There is no way you can conquer the elements, you just have to deal with it."

Tomba says he is "the laziest person on earth" but adds: "This stuff is all about tricking yourself into doing it. You book your flight before you've come to terms with it. Then you have to do something about it." (Editing by Ruth Pitchford)

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.