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The rower Louis Margot wants to circumnavigate the world using muscle power

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The rower Louis Margot wants to circumnavigate the world using muscle power

The 32-year-old from Vaud wants to circumnavigate the world in record time using muscle power. With the Atlantic he has overcome the first hurdle. What does so much loneliness do to a person?

After almost three months alone on the Atlantic, Louis Margot’s first ocean crossing has been completed.

Don Carmello / Human Impulse

Louis Margot hasn’t met anyone for 40 days. There is only water around him. The waves undulated, from horizon to horizon. Margot, 32 years old, has monotonous days behind and ahead of her. He crosses the Atlantic alone in a rowing boat. Suddenly the radio crackles. A sailor reports.

The skipper of a yacht is worried when he sees the small rowing boat with Margot from Vaud in it. The sailor offers help, but Margot refuses. He just has one big wish. Before that, he lived for weeks on lukewarm desalinated sea water and freeze-dried meals. “I had spaghetti carbonara for two weeks, then bolognese for two weeks, then chicken with rice for two weeks,” says Margot. He’s sick of this food.

Margot asks the sailor over the radio for a cold beer, a fresh meal and fruit. “It tasted wonderful,” he says. Then the two boats drift apart. Margot rows further, ever further west, to the Caribbean island of Martinique.

Margot once took part in the boat race for Cambridge

Margot once made it into the Swiss national rowing team as a youngster and even became junior world champion. As a student he took part in the legendary Boat Race on the Thames with the University of Cambridge. After graduating with a degree in engineering, Margot cycled from his hometown of Morges to Istanbul. After that you should be done with adventures.

Margot took a job in the solar industry and earned a lot of money. But at some point the feeling crept in that the path of life for the next 40 years was already mapped out. “I longed to do something big,” he says. Thoughts were circling, Margot was planning to cross the Atlantic in a rowing boat; But when he was planning he felt that one ocean wouldn’t be enough. Margot wants to circumnavigate the world with muscle power, by rowing boat and bicycle. He wants to do it in less than 3 years; the world record is 5 years and 11 days.

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The family and those around them are skeptical when Margot tells them about his plan. «My parents believed that circumnavigating the earth would remain just a dream, a fantasy. They were afraid for me,” he says. It was only when the ocean-going rowing boat arrived in Morges that Margot’s entourage realized that he was serious. «If I had listened to others, I wouldn’t be on the road. But I felt an impulse and gave in to it,” he says. His project is therefore called “Human Impulse”.

With meditation against seasickness

Last September he started in Morges and cycled to Portugal. There came the Atlantic and with that the first problems arose. Top rowers like Margot usually train on calm waters. On the Atlantic, however, he immediately becomes seasick.

“It was like being on a roller coaster, I felt terrible. And then there was the loneliness. That was a shock,” he says. He reads online that fear and stress increase seasickness. So he tries to get rid of these sensations. He meditates while listening to calming music. The seasickness disappears.

The Atlantic remains turbulent. Margot continues rowing. Suddenly he underestimates a wave. She throws the boat to the side and almost capsizes it. Margot lies in the water, the boat is full, the ocean threatens to swallow him. “That was the worst moment of my life,” he says.

The Atlantic teaches him his first lesson

He holds on to the rowing boat and the hull settles again. The adrenaline rushes through the body. Margot crawls into his small cabin and stays there for two days, unable to row any further. “I was in survival mode, my head was empty,” says Margot. The Atlantic taught him his first lesson – it could have been his last.

Margot learns quickly and constantly gains new insights. For example: “If you experience situations like high waves for the first time, it scares you out of your mind. “It’s not so bad the second time,” he says. Thanks to this attitude, he reached the Canary Islands after just under a month. There he recovers and repairs the boat. Then he sets sail again.

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Louis Margot in the harbor of the Caribbean island of Martinique.

Don Carmello / Human Impulse

The days become monotonous. Margot gets up early and rows from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. Then the burning sun forces him to take a break. He then rows until sunset and sometimes late into the night. In between, he takes care of the water supply, repairs damage to the boat and prepares meals. Despite the hard work, Margot can’t even reach 5 kilometers per hour in his rowing boat. It’s almost 5,000 kilometers to Martinique: “I threatened to go crazy when I thought about the distance,” says Margot.

Free yourself from time – live according to the position of the sun

He also finds a solution to this problem. Margot covers the speedometer and distance display in his boat, concentrating only on rowing and the course. He has detached himself from time. “I lived according to the position of the sun,” he says. When it gets dark, he reads, calls his family or watches films. Only the Starlink satellite network connects him to the real world.

After 76 days of non-stop rowing, Margot returned to the real world last week. It enters the port of Le Marin on the south coast of Martinique. His parents accompany him on a sailing boat for the last few miles. Margot has solid ground under her feet again – but is still unsteady on her feet. He sways, he feels dizzy, his body has gotten used to the sea. Margot longs for his mother’s lasagna, cold drinks and sleep. He says: «It’s surreal. “I have to first realize that I am back in society and that the loneliness is behind me.”

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He will now spend a few weeks in Martinique. Margot needs to recover and repair the boat. He will then cross the Caribbean Sea. He doesn’t yet know where he will go ashore. That depends on the weather conditions. At home in western Switzerland, a meteorologist helps him plan the route. Family and friends help with logistics and finding sponsors. Financing for the last two parts of the trip around the world has not yet been secured: the crossing of the Pacific and the bicycle journey from Southeast Asia home to Morges.

The next destinations are Costa Rica or Colombia. From there Margot will cycle to either California or Peru. Then follows the Pacific, the Pacific, almost 15,000 kilometers of loneliness and hardship. Margot says: “I’m trying not to think about that yet.”

Back in civilization: Louis Margot says he first has to get used to society again.

Don Carmello / Human Impulse

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