September 21, 1980. Frenchman Gérard d’Aboville arrives in Brittany after rowing solo 5,200 kilometres across the Atlantic Ocean. The voyage in his boat, the 5.6-metre ‘Captain Cook’, took him 71 days and 23 hours. Arriving in Brest he declared “If there’s one thing I’m sure of, I’ll never put myself through that again!”
Yet, 11 years later, he was back rowing across another ocean, this time the Pacific. On July 11, 1991 he set off from Choshi in Japan and reached Portland on the west coast of the United States 134 days later. This made him the first man ever to row solo across two oceans. He wrote a diary of his Pacific feat, ‘Seul’ (Alone) which was published in 1993.
Also on September 21: The French monarchy is formally abolished and France declared a republic (1792); publication of ‘The Hobbit’ by J.R.R. Tolkien (1937); Malta gains independence from the UK (1964); The Soviet Union recognises the independence of Armenia (1991).
Born on September 21: H.G. Wells (1886), Gustav Holst (1874), Larry Hagman (1931), Leonard Cohen (1934), Stephen King (1947), Bill Murray (1950), Kevin Rudd, Ethan Coen (1957), Liam Gallagher (1972)
Back in the day: end of the long, lonely row across the ocean