The local Texas Navy group in Galveston hosted a welcoming ceremony on Thursday, March 2, honoring three area residents who recently completed a rowing race across the Atlantic Ocean. The event was held at Fisherman’s Wharf Restaurant on Harborside Drive in Galveston.
The American Oarsmen, Mike Matson, David Alviar and Brian Krauskopf, set out from La Gomera in the Canary Islands on December 14 and arrived at English Harbor, Antigua,in the early morning hours of February 2.
The Oarsmen completed the 2016-17 Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge, a rowing race across the Atlantic. Twelve boats competed this year, with one, two, three and four member crews.\
The Texas Navy Association helped sponsor the Oarsmen’s effort, that was used to raise funds for charitable causes. Matson, Alviar and Krauskopf were appointed by Governor Greg Abbott as Admirals in the Texas Navy and they carried a Texas Navy Association flag aboard their specially-designed rowing scull, named Anne.
The welcoming event began with a meet-and-greet with Oarsman Captain Mike, followed by dinner and a power point presentation of the race.
The Texas Navy Association is a private, 501(c)(3) organization, dedicated to preserving and promoting the historical legacy of the naval forces of the Republic of Texas, 1835-45.
Anne: The Captain's Log
After 49 days, 14 hours, 4 minutes and 20 seconds, the American Oarsmen completed a 2,789 mile rowing adventure across the Atlantic in a specially designed 22 ft. row boat named Anne.
Along the way they:
- Earned 2 Guinness World Records for being the fastest and the first three-man crew to ever row the Atlantic Ocean
- Finished fourth in the race overall and first among three-man crews
- Became the first Texans to ever row an ocean
- Became the first Admirals in the Texas Navy on the High Seas since 1846
- Survived storms with 20 ft. waves , sleep deprivation, sunburn and extreme fatigue
- Witnessed countless dolphins, Minke whales larger than their boat and a 700 lb. leatherback sea turtle
- Experiences a close encounter with large ship
- Almost lost control of the vessel during shift change, with a large wave tipping the row boat 90 degrees and resulting is loss of important gear overboard including their toilet
- Raised awareness to help construct Houston's first rowing boathouse on the banks of Buffalo Bayou for the Rice University Rowing Club
- Honored the memory of a fallen Houston heroine: Firefighter Anne McCormick Sullivan of the Houston Fire Department
Tidbits that Captain Mike Matson shared during his slide presentation:
Their $3000 food supply was held up in customs, so they had to purchase excess food from the other oarsman just before the race began.
Mike, who has a tendency to get seasick, was seasick the first five days of the trip and consumed only 300 calories of food during that time.
The crew rowed 24 hours a day, switching off every two hours.
One member of his team didn’t know how to swim.
That Mike had to “MacGiver” many broken parts including wheels, rudders, etc.
The row boat cost $140,000 and was equipped with redundant radios, a water desalinization plant, solar generators and five different GPS devices, etc.
Their electronic navigation system was fried before they began the race.
The row boat averaged 3-4 knots per hour.
Mike said he had fun flying down the 20 ft. waves in their vessel reaching speeds of 16 knots during a heavy squall.
Mike lost a large amount of muscle mass during the trip and 31 lbs. Before the race he could dead lift 500 lbs. and after the race only 300 lbs.
Mike secretly craved an extra large beef fajita while eating their daily rations of 5000 calories.
When Mike was young, he attended Texas A&M University Sea Camp in Galveston.
When asked, if he would enter the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge again, he said not in that part of the Ocean again, but would not rule out another boat race.
Mike penned a sentence to sum up the exciting and dangerous journey, “It’s finally over”.
Next, Mike is contemplating swimming the 12 mile English Channel.
Mike Matson and Anne McCormick Sullivan served the Stafford Fire Department as volunteer firefighters, prior to Anne taking a career position with the Houston Fire Department. While proudly serving as a firefighter out of Station 68 in Southwest Houston, Anne tragically served her last shift attempting to extinguish the Southwest Inn fire on May 31, 2013. The fire began in an Indian restaurant and quickly spread to an adjoining hotel ultimately claiming the biggest casualty loss for the Houston Fire Department since inception. The Anne McCormick Sullivan Foundation was started in her memory as a non-profit scholarship organization for women pursuing education and training in the firefighting service.
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