Human Journey

Rowing the Pacific With Wine and Cheese

National Geographic Emerging Explorer Gregg Treinish and his team at Adventurers and Scientists for Conservation bring us stories from around the world about adventuring with purpose. Here, we get a glimpse into life on an ocean rowboat as two French cousins row from California to Hawaii, contributing to ocean conservation while they’re at it, through ASC’s Microplastics Project.

By Emily Stifler Wolfe

Imagine rowing from California to Hawaii. That’s 2,900 miles. Now imagine how you’d feel on day 55. Tired? Seasick?

That was the day French cousins Clement Heliot
, 25, and Christophe Papillon, 27, collected samples for the ASC Microplastics Project during the 75 total days they spent in the Pacific this summer in the inaugural Great Pacific Race.

In this video clip, Christophe rows as if he’s one with the boat, his body shifting with waves that make you seasick just watching. Clemente, who completes the sampling, speaks slowly to the camera as he explains the process. Their life at sea moves at the metered pace of their oar strokes.

The open ocean is a wild, lonely and beautiful place. (Photo courtesy CC4 Pacific)

The cousins spent two years renovating their vessel, La Cigogne, (“The Stork”) before the race and named it for the street where their grandmother lived. The only all-plywood boat in the field, it was the oldest and the heaviest.

Rowing through hurricanes Iselle and Julio, they encountered winds up to 60 knots and 30-foot swells. At one point, they spent five days on a parachute anchor waiting for the weather to pass, according to the GPR blog.

Proper Frenchmen, Christophe and Clemente’s rations included cheese, cured saussion sausage, and 20 liters of wine—enough for a daily glass until day 74, the day before they landed on Waikiki.

À la vôtre!

Learn more about this and other ASC projects on our website, the Field Notes blog, and by following us on FacebookTwitterInstagram and Google+. Find more about Christophe and Clement’s ocean row at

Read More by Gregg Treinish and His Correspondents

Gregg Treinish founded Adventure Scientists in 2011 with a strong passion for both scientific discovery and exploration. National Geographic named Gregg Adventurer of the Year in 2008 when he and a friend completed a 7,800-mile trek along the spine of the Andes Mountain Range. He was included on the Christian Science Monitor's 30 under 30 list in 2012, and the following year became a National Geographic Emerging Explorer for his work with Adventure Scientists. In 2013, he was named a Backpacker Magazine "hero", in 2015, a Draper Richards Kaplan Entrepreneur and one of Men's Journal's "50 Most Adventurous Men." In 2017, he was named an Ashoka Fellow. Gregg holds a biology degree from Montana State University and a sociology degree from CU-Boulder. He thru-hiked the Appalachian Trail in 2004.

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