The Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge 2011: The World´s Toughest Rowing Race, began on December 4, 2011. Seventeen heavily-sponsored teams from around the world have been participating over the last few months to complete this epic task. More people have been into space than have rowed the Atlantic, and it is rightly considered as one of the toughest challenges on the planet. It is a superb race, sponsored by an equally superb whisky company. Talisker whisky has often graced our tumbler, partnered with one of our exclusive whiskey stones. But we’d like to talk about something else. We’d like to talk about a man named Aleksander Doba. He was not a participant in this highly-publicized corporate event. Aleksander Doba is a kayaker, not a rower. Aleksander Doba did cross the Atlantic though, and he did it alone. He is 64 years old.
On February 1, 2012, sapped of strength but nonetheless jubilant, Doba paddled ashore in northeast Brazil; completing a transatlantic kayaking expedition that lasted almost 99 days and spanned 3,320 miles. It’s believed to have been the longest solo-kayaking voyage ever, in terms of time spent at sea. He spent his first few hours after completing the journey being checked by doctors and sleeping. The day after landing the Polish senior citizen, thickly bearded and disheveled, but appearing remarkably fit, told a small gathering in the remote fishing community of Acaraú, that after a little more rest he’d like to climb back in and paddle to the United States.
Doba began his odyssey in Dakar, West Africa, on October 26, 2011. His vessel was a customized 23-foot sea kayak, which is only 39 inches wide. It was his home for 98 days and 20 hours. It has a small forward compartment in which he napped when conditions allowed. His desalination unit stopped functioning on January 11th, making it difficult to obtain drinking water; from that point on he relied largely on gathering rainwater. His meager freeze-dried food supply was supplemented occasionally with fresh fish. At times he had to maneuver over waves measuring 20-plus feet.
Doba, an expert whitewater kayaker, carried a satellite phone and Tweeted sporadically. One of his early Tweets: “Since the beginning I see a lot of sharks. Often they surface, but sometimes they stay a few meters underwater. I can only splash, no swimming!”
We raise a glass to Aleksander Doba, the physical challenge would have broken men half his age. And our glass, it’s filled with Talisker, poured over one of our unique whiskey stones. Just so you know.