Wednesday, September 22, 2010

In 2001, John Ziegler was a member of the only two-man team representing the United States in a 3300-statute-mile Trans-Atlantic Rowing race from Tenerife, Canary Islands to Barbados.

Ocean rowing, as a sport, has been around only since the inaugural Atlantic Challenge race in 1997. Before then crossings were strictly Guinness Book of World Record affairs. In fact, fewer people have rowed across the Atlantic than have climbed Mount Everest. Race rules pit two-person teams against each other, rowing unassisted with no food drops or navigational aid. The challenge is an enormous undertaking even before the start. Each team has to gain their own sponsorship, see to the building and outfitting of their boat (which arrives as a plywood kit) and leave their jobs and families for a couple of grueling months at sea. Rowers have to contend with sleep deprivation, seasickness, isolation, boredom and cramped living conditions. Most of the competitors row naked to avoid painful chafing. Even with a steep entry fee and no prize money, Tom and John’s race drew thirty-six teams from fifteen nations including New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, China, and eight European countries.

John showed a film about the race and discussed what it takes to prepare for and participate in this mental and physical challenge.

John built his first boat in 1981, and several others since. He has participated in hundreds of races and competitions in all types of human-powered boats.

When not racing or working with his brother in the wholesale food business, he creates trophies, awards, and boat models, including half hull kits, using a laser.

For more background information on John Ziegler, go to

Copyright © 2014 Navesink Maritime Heritage Association

Navesink Maritime Heritage Association is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to preserving knowledge and appreciation of Monmouth County's maritime heritage through programs that teach wooden boat building and boat handling skills; through preserving the history of Monmouth County's wooden boat builders and other maritime history; and through the experiental on-the-water programs of River Rangers for middle school children and Sea Scout Ship Navesink for co-ed youth age 14-21.

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