NZ winemaker to row 3,000 miles solo across the Atlantic

A New Zealand winemaker has set off on a solo rowing effort across the Atlantic Ocean, that will see him travel 3,000 miles over three months to raise funds for mental health charities.

Isaac Giesen, a 26 year old winemaker of Gisen Wines, is taking part in the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge – an extreme rowing race held once every two years.

This year, 20 boats are taking part, but only five of them are solo rowers, with the flotilla setting off from La Gomera in the Canary Islands on 12 December, bound for the Caribbean island of Antigua.

The journey is expected to take Giesen, a trained winemaker with a degree in viticulture and winemaking, around three months to complete, and if successful he will become the first Kiwi to complete a solo row across the Atlantic.

Carsten Heron Olsen, CEO of race organiser Atlantic Campaigns, said: “This year the race is bigger than ever with more teams and rowers competing than ever before. It really is a race unlike any other and demands discipline, training and extensive preparation, but the rowers are rewarded for their hard work with the adventure of a lifetime.

“It’s an incredibly challenging and enriching life experience for our rowers- year in year out we are astounded by the team’s achievements and feel privileged to be a part of their journey.”

Over the course of the challenge, participants are expected to burn 8,000 calories a day, losing 20% of their body weight over the duration of the race

Each team will raise money for their own chosen charity. Giesen is raising money for mental health awareness charities. It’s a cause close to his heart, having lost lost his aunt and two close friends to suicide. He has already raised NZ$43,000 of his $1m goal.

Follow his journey via the website, or to make a donation visit

Giesen’s vessel, the Bonnie Lass. Credit: Instagram/thebluerower

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