The oldest person in the world to row alone across the Atlantic

Jean-Guy Sauriol with his wife Lucie Cossette and son Jean-Christophe.
Jean-Guy Sauriol with his wife Lucie Cossette and son Jean-Christophe.

Jean-Guy Sauriol moved into the Kilgour Estates about a year ago with the aim of doing something no one else in the world had done.

On Feb. 6 he did it: He became the oldest person to cross the Atlantic Ocean as a solo rower.

He started the trip on Nov. 23 in the Canary Islands with 4,828 kilometres ahead of him to Barbados, hoping to get there in 75 days. He made it in 74 days and three hours, a little after 3 p.m.

He had turned 60 on Dec. 31. That made Sauriol, born in Montreal, the oldest of two other Canadian solo rowers, and the fastest. 

Why would he have wanted to take on such a daunting trip?

Blame that on a rowing machine he bought in 2010 while he lived in Lawrence Park. It gave him the idea.

He was obviously in great physical shape. Two years earlier he had completed the Ironman competition in Hawaii (after starting swimming lessons at the advanced age of 35).

He got himself psyched up reading 15 books on conquering the Atlantic and all last year practiced on Lake Ontario, which wasn’t quite the same.

On the real trip, with a 6.4-metre-long boat named Maple, that he jokes was “unsinkable like the Titanic,” but was self-righting, he capsized twice.

The Maple had internet access, a satellite phone, a three-month food supply and a gadget that could wake him up when another boat was within 25 nautical miles. No liquor.

He did four three-hour rowing sessions each day, all for three charities: the Breakfast Club of Canada, the Actuarial Foundation of Canada (he had been an actuary) and the Children’s Breakfast Club of East Northumberland Secondary School. He raised over $10,000.

On his birthday French Canadian newscasters called to sing Bonne Fête to him.