Swansea student starts bid to set solo rowing record
IT SURELY ranks among the more outrageous and solitary gap year projects. But for teenager Lukas Haitzmann, who plans to study engineering at Swansea University from next September, competing as a solo adventurer in the 3,000-mile Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge represents just the latest in a series of increasingly difficult pursuits.
The 18-year-old will look to become the youngest person in history to row solo across the ocean after departing from La Gomera in the Canary Islands to English Harbour in Antigua yesterday.
Mr Haitzmann said he decided to take on extreme sporting challenges after realising he was spending hours sat on his computer playing video games such as Minecraft and Call Of Duty.
He said: “I want children my age and younger to just get out there and do something because I was that kid who sat inside on a computer all day and was just wasting time.
“I came to a point where I realised I wasted so much time and missed so many opportunities, so I made a personal promise that any time something like this crossed my table I would give it a go.
“I’m dyslexic and I felt I was using that as an excuse for not achieving, sometimes I just wasn’t even trying, I was just sitting at home thinking: ‘I’m dyslexic, I’m not going to get good grades, blah blah blah,’ but I have found it more of a gift because I think a bit differently.”
Mr Haitzmann, from Windsor, only decided to sign up for the race five months ago having completed the London Marathon, but said his parents remain slightly unconvinced by the decision, particularly because of his tender years.
“It’s a bit of a hard topic to discuss with your parents,” he said.
“The first person to jump on board was my mum.
“When I told her I was doing it the thing that ran through her head was if she didn’t support me I would end up in the middle of nowhere, so she thought she ought to help to make sure I get there safely.
“My dad, understandably, wasn’t very happy with it. I think that’s the case with many ocean rowers, but we are getting there.
“It’s a once in a lifetime chance so I wouldn’t let anything get in the way of that. He’s going to be proud in the end but he’s worried. As long as you’re sensible on the ocean and do things properly, I’ll be all right.”
In 2017, 19-year-old Oliver Crane became the youngest person in history to row solo across the Atlantic.
Mr Haitzmann will beat that record if he completes the crossing before his birthday in April.