The Polar Row, a world first
and the most record-breaking manpower expedition in history
Beginning in July 2017, a crew of international rowers carried the coveted Explorer's Club flag on a pioneering initially two-stage, later extended to three-stage Arctic expedition. The first stage of the expedition departed Tromsø (Norway) for Longyearbyen (Svalbard), and was officially recognised as the first ever South to North row in the Arctic, and reached the northernmost latitude achieved by a rowing crew (record which stood for 27 years) and among many records broke existing Arctic Ocean speed record by 3,5 times!!! It was the biggest record demolition in the history of Ocean Rowing and set Arctic Ocean speed record higher than the current Pacific Ocean speed record, very unexpected occurrence in the Ocean Rowing world. Captain Fiann Paul became the first person to row 4 Oceans and the first person to hold speed records on 4 Oceans.
Next majority of the crew members were replaced in Longyearbyen. Initial plan to head directly to Iceland was extended by adding additional stage: row North all the way to the Ice Shelf. Having reached the Ice Shelf, team Polar Row II broke the Northernmost Latitude record again, the exploratory Polar Row then continued to Iceland. Due to various difficulties crew finished Journey in Jan Mayen. Despite not reaching Iceland, the distance covered by the expedition remained nearly same as initially planned two-stage expedition by adding the additional stage of rowing to the Ice Shelf, and the amount of records claimed remained same, which include many of the titles of World's Firsts. Fiann Paul and Carlo Facchino became the first People to row the Arctic Ocean both directions. It was the most record breaking Ocean Row and Fiann Paul became the most record breaking Ocean Rower.
The crew had no sails and no motor to aid them in their quest, and was buffeted by strong and unpredictable Arctic winds (in stark contrast to completely wind dependent lower latitudes' ocean rowing routes). Fiann Paul and Carlo Facchino were dedicated to continue the Journey to Iceland. Fiann arranged a replacement crew and a private airplane but the airplane didn't receive the landing permit from the Norwegian Military Authorities.
In addition to setting an unparalleled series of Official Guinness Records (listed below), the crew has two further objectives. The second is philanthropic in nature, as the crew aims to build a school in the Himalaya region. This will be the second such school successfully funded by the Fiann Paul Foundation.
The final aim of the expedition is to make a contribution to research. In association with the University of Cambridge, crew member Dr. Danny Longman will document the physiological responses to the extreme stresses that the crew will experience during this uniquely challenging expedition.
VEGVÍSIR - WAYFINDER
Icelandic magical stave, Vegvísir will lead the Polar Row crew to Svalbard, the land of Polar Bears and next to the Northern shore of Iceland, where Vegvísir was first found.
According to the archaic Icelandic manuscripts, "if this sign is carried, one will never lose one's way in storms or bad weather, even when the way is not known".
According to the iconography of Inuit Pacific Northwest Coast Tribes polar bear is a totemic guardian of strength.
Before embarking on his first polar expedition Fridtjof Nansen needed to be told many important things. The one he had the biggest difficulty in accepting was that he was not a polar bear.