ROWING THE PACIFIC
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