ROW­ING THE PA­CIFIC

Mandate - - Contents -

Over 45 days this sum­mer, 38-year- old tech en­tre­pre­neur Sami Ink­i­nen and his wife, Mered­ith Lor­ing, 34, rowed 2,700 miles from Mon­terey, Cal­i­for­nia, to Honolulu. When they landed on Waikiki Beach in Au­gust, they be­came the fastest pair to ac­com­plish the feat.

Per­haps more im­pres­sive: Ink­i­nen and Lor­ing hadn’t rowed at all be­fore Jan­uary and trained for the voy­age on the same Con­cept2 row­ing ma­chines you see crammed into the cor­ner of your gym. Their row­boat wasn’t much larger ei­ther—even though it was out­fit­ted with a small de­sali­na­tor, satel­lite com­mu­ni­ca­tions and a few so­lar pan­els.

“Had we gone out in it for five or six days be­fore­hand, I don’t feel we would ever have made the at­tempt,” says Ink­i­nen. “It’s re­ally un­com­fort­able.”

How­ever un­com­fort­able the boat, both were aer­o­bi­cally pre­pared for what was the equiv­a­lent of run­ning two marathons a day. Ink­i­nen is among the top in his age bracket at the Iron­man; Lor­ing raced the Ever­est Marathon a few weeks prior to the row. The big­gest chal­lenge was sim­ply ad­just­ing to the soli­tude. “Once you’re out there, you’re re­ally out there,” says Ink­i­nen.

The cou­ple trav­elled through storms, un­der star­lit skies, and over white- capped waves the size of houses. “I learned to ap­pre­ci­ate one sound in par­tic­u­lar,” says Ink­i­nen, “that of a larger-than-nor­mal wave, which is al­most like white noise.”

Most days, the cou­ple rowed to­gether for 12-hour stretches, then six hours solo each. The monotony was rarely bro­ken up. But while at sea, Ink­i­nen, who co-founded the real- es­tate web­site Tru­lia, did get word that it had been sold for $3.5 bil­lion, netting him mil­lions. Shortly af­ter touch­ing shore, the cou­ple cel­e­brated their fourth wed­ding an­niver­sary. “We thought that if we could get through this, it would be a great foun­da­tion for what’s next,” says Ink­i­nen. So what is next? Not row­ing around the world, he says. “There’s a lot more to see on land.”

The cou­ple rowed up to 18 hours per day while testing the open ocean—and their mar­riage.

BY SPE­CIAL AR­RANGE­MENT

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