Body of missing French solo Atlantic rower found

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THE CITIZEN: The body of a 75-year-old Frenchman who was trying to row across the Atlantic has been found inside the cabin of his boat, his support team told AFP Saturday.

Portugal’s coastguard found Jean-Jacques Savin’s overturned boat off the Portuguese archipelago of the Azores on Friday, and on Saturday they were able to send a diver down to search it, his team added.

Savin drops off the map

Former paratrooper and avid triathlete Savin set off from mainland Portugal’s southern tip on January 1, but there had been no contact with him since overnight Thursday to Friday when he activated two distress beacons.

Former paratrooper and avid triathlete Savin set off from mainland Portugal’s southern tip on January 1, hoping to reach the Caribbean.

It was just his latest adventure after crossing the Atlantic alone in a custom-built barrel in 2019, a 127-day trip followed by thousands on Facebook.

“We’re very worried,” a team of France-based volunteers following his odyssey told AFP in a statement.

“We haven’t heard from him since 00:34 yesterday (Friday) morning,” when he released “two distress beacons, telling us he was ‘in great difficulty’.”

His daughter in a Facebook post said a search operation “was immediately set in motion in coordination with the French, Portuguese and US sea rescue services”.

He was last heard of north of the Madeira islands off the northwest coast of Africa, and heading towards Ponta Delgada in the Portuguese archipelago of the Azores.

Shortly after leaving on January 1, unfavourable wind conditions forced the adventurer to extend his trip by 900 kilometres (550 miles).

On Wednesday, he had reported “strong swell and… wind” on Facebook, adding he had been forced to switch from using an electric water desalinator to a backup one operated by hand.

“It’s costing me physical energy,” he wrote. But “be assured, I am not in danger”.

Savin, who said rowing across the Atlantic was a way to “laugh at old age”, celebrated his 75th birthday on Friday last week on board his two-cabin canoe.

Body of missing French solo Atlantic rower found
Jean-Jacques Savin, a former paratrooper, 74, tests his rowboat on May 28, 2021 at a shipyard in Lege-Cap-Ferret, southwestern France on May 28, 2021. (Photo by Philippe Lopez / AFP)

The vessel, which is eight metres long and 1.70 metres wide, has a rowing station at its centre.

He left with it packed with 300 kilos (660 pounds) of equipment, including freeze-dried food, a spear gun to fish and a heater, as well as the two desalinators.

To celebrate his birthday, he had also brought along his mandolin, foie gras and champagne.

“I am off on holiday to the open sea,” he had said before leaving.

“I will row eight hours a day and when the wind blows too hard, I’ll close myself in,” he said.

He was looking forward to an extra safety measure that he did not have during his last barrel crossing: a tracker to make him visible to the radars of passing cargo ships.

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3 COMMENTS

  1. Notes From Native Son Of The Rock!

    Truly Sad News! “Alone, alone, all, all alone, Alone on a wide wide sea!” – Samuel Taylor Coleridge, The Rime Of The Ancient Mariner!

    Condolences to his Family and Friends!

    “O happy living things! no tongue Their beauty might declare: A spring of love gushed from my heart, And I blessed them unaware: Sure my kind saint took pity on me, And I blessed them unaware.” – Samuel Tylor Coleridge!

  2. Certainly a sad tale of the sea.
    Condolences to his family, friends and all who love the marine lifestyle.

  3. No stir in the air,no stir in the Sea.The ship was still as she could be.Her sails from heaven received no motion.Her keel was steady in the ocean.Sailor on good sailor to the great beyond and be with your Maker.RIP.

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