Adventurer attempts to conquer waves and winds in ‘roaring 40s’ as clock ticks on New Zealand to Australia motorless challenge

Grant Rawlinson rowed from Singapore to Australia, cycled from the Eastern Seaboard and is now rowing across the Tasman home to New Zealand

Grant Rawlinson faces huge waves and high winds as he rows across the Tasman. Photos: Alistair Harding

Adventurer Grant Rawlinson has decided to enter the notorious ‘roaring 40s’, one of the roughest patches of ocean in the world, as he attempts to row from New Zealand to Australia.

“The biggest decision was where to launch and when,” Rawlinson said, who will leave shore in the Australian spring. “There is no season for doing this and not enough people have rowed the Tasman, so there is no reliable statics on when is best to go.”

The ‘roaring 40s’ refers to the 40 degrees latitude in line with the southern tip of Australia famed for it’s massive waves and relentless wind.

Winds in the ‘roaring 40s’ are more consistent in the right direction, but rough sea conditions are the main problem.

Singaporean Rawlinson has already attempted the crossing once – he rowed from his home in Singapore to Australia, then cycled towards Sydney and launched his boat towards New Zealand further north than this time.

But he soon became caught in a storm and had to sit in his cabin for days on end as his boat was slowly blown of course.

“Strategically I’m changing my mindset. I found it difficult being stuck in the cabin for 70 or 80 hours at a time,” he said. “I’m practising mindfulness to deal with the isolation this time.”

Grant Rawlinson cycling across Australia.

The wind is more consistent from west to east further south in the ‘roaring 40s’ so he is unlikely to be blown in the wrong direction, but it can be incredibly rough – Olly Hicks rowed from Australia to New Zealand and said he eventually became blase about hurricanes.

“The wind is consistent, but the biggest factor is the sea state,” said Rawlinson, originally from New Zealand. “And it’s colder.”

It is a contrast to his first leg from Singapore, where the most punishing factor was the constant heat and the danger of shipping traffic. But it was calm and flat so he could row the entire time.

“There is a massive amount I took from the first leg in terms of routine,” he said.

The heat rowing from Singapore was punishing, but the sea was calm. The sea state in the Tasman is rarely flat.

Given he has had to extend the expedition to allow for a second Tasman crossing attempt the clock is against him.

“Getting across is never a given,” Rawlinson said. “But now the budget is stretched, there is pressure on me and my family. It feels like it’s time to get it done. But mother nature has the final say.”

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