French adventurer, 75, dies during solo Atlantic row

Published January 23, 2022
Jean-Jacques Savin, a former paratrooper, 74, poses on his rowboat at a shipyard in Lege-Cap-Ferret, southwestern France, May 28, 2021. — AFP/File
Jean-Jacques Savin, a former paratrooper, 74, poses on his rowboat at a shipyard in Lege-Cap-Ferret, southwestern France, May 28, 2021. — AFP/File

BORDEAUX: A 75-year-old Frenchman attempting to row across the Atlantic “to laugh at old age” was found dead in his cabin at sea on Saturday, his support team said.

Portugal’s coastguard found Jean-Jacques Savin’s overturned boat off the Portuguese archipelago of the Azores on Friday.

They were able to send a diver down on Saturday to search it, his team added.

The former paratrooper’s body “was found lifeless inside the cabin”, they said.

The avid triathlete set off from mainland Portugal’s southern tip on January 1, but there had been no contact with him since overnight Thursday to Friday when he activated two distress beacons.

It was just his latest adventure after crossing the Atlantic alone in a custom-built barrel in 2019, a 127-day trip followed by thousands on Facebook.

Savin was hoping again to reach the Caribbean, this time in a rowing boat eight metres long and 1.70 metres wide, with a rowing station at its centre.

His team earlier on Saturday said they were “very worried”.

“We haven’t heard from him since 00:34 yesterday (Friday) morning,” they said, adding that he had activated “two distress beacons, telling us he was ‘in great difficulty’.” His daughter in a Facebook post said a search operation “was immediately set in motion in coordination with the French, Portuguese and US sea rescue services”.

He was last heard of north of Madeira, Portuguese islands off the northwest coast of Africa, on his way to Ponta Delgada in the Azores.

Shortly after leaving on January 1, unfavourable wind conditions had forced the adventurer to extend his trip by 900 kilometres (550 miles).

Published in Dawn, January 23rd, 2022

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