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Solo Transatlantic Rower Ridley Arrives on Antigua

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Trans-Atlantic solo expedition rower Paul Ridley successfully completed a charity fund-raising ocean crossing from the Canary Islands to Antigua on March 29. Ridley’s three-month solo effort ended successfully with support from his friends, family and the Antigua & Barbuda Search & Rescue (ABSAR) organization using technology developed by Rhode Island ocean science and technology company, Applied Science Associates (ASA).

Ridley completed his historic expedition for the cause of cancer research, as he rowed for 10-12 hours per day with little help coming from anything more than favorable ocean currents and wind direction. “When the wind, waves, and currents did not cooperate, the journey called Row for Hope became more challenging and uncertain,” stated a Ridley family member. 

Jonathan Cornelius of ABSAR (www.absar.org) volunteered his time and expertise as well as advanced technology provided to ABSAR, ASA’s SARMAP and EDS: Environmental Data Server developed in collaboration with the United States Coast Guard. A combination of search and rescue technology and real-time and ocean data forecasting system, ASA’s software combined with Cornelius’ expertise, was used to look at possible drift scenarios for those anxiously awaiting Paul’s landing in Antigua when the crossing took longer than planned.

“Jonathan was wonderful, providing the perfect mixture of calm presence, knowledge of local waters, and up-to-the-minute computerized wind and current data,” stated Ridley’s father on the Row for Hope blog.

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In the 19-foot custom built boat provided by a world-class Rhode Island boat building company, Aquidneck Custom, Ridley’s ocean expedition began in December 2008. His planned route was directly from Africa to Antigua, crossing the whole of the Atlantic Ocean. While rowing more than 3,000 nautical miles, Ridley, in contact with a land-based support team via satellite phone, was entirely alone on the open ocean for 87 days with no chase boat or means of resupply.

“Using ASA’s SARMAP and EDS ocean current module, I was able to plot his position and show Paul’s team a drift prediction,” said Cornelius. “I recommended that Paul turn his boat as much north as possible in order to take advantage of the current stream he was bordering. I further advised him to put out his sea anchor when not rowing in order to let the currents to pull him north and keep him from being blown southwest. Over the next several days Paul was able to make good progress to Antigua utilizing our advice and the information provided from the SARMAP program. He told me later that this information was crucial in allowing him to make it into Antigua.”

Rowing into English Harbour, Antigua, news media and supporters greeted Ridley and celebrated his accomplishment. Ridley’s Row for Hope raised over 500,000 dollars for cancer research. www.rowforhope.com.
Report submitted by Lee Dooley (ldooley@asascience.com), Applied Science Associates, www.asascience.com.

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