Greg tells the story of OAR Northwest. From a nonprofit started in the basement of his house in Seattle, to a rowboat racing the high seas of the North Atlantic, battling house-sized waves and starvation on their way to an unlikely victory. Years later, adventure and opportunity called again and led him to transform OAR Northwest’s focus from racing to education through an adventure that would take his crew from West Africa, across the Atlantic, through the Bermuda Triangle to Miami. With less than a thousand miles left, disaster would strike and all that was left was survival.
Greg Spooner is a Doctor of Physical Therapy, and co-founder of OAR Northwest, a nonprofit adventure rowing and education organization based in Seattle, Washington. Greg is a veteran of the 2006 Shepherd Ocean Fours Rowing Race across the North Atlantic ocean (1st place, Guinness Record), as well as multiple independent ocean, coastal, and inland rowing expeditions as a rower and onboard medic. He helmed "mission control" as the land-based expedition manager for the 2013 Africa to the Americas Expedition.
In 2014 OAR Northwest and its "Rowboat Classroom" launched Adventure: Mississippi River, an annual fall semester education expedition, rowing the Mississippi River from source-to-sea, delivering STEM-focused standards-aligned curriculum and live inspirational visits to schools along the river.
The oceans comprise the majority of the planet. They are the major means by which humanity has spread across the globe. They remain the means by which global trade happens. They provide more than half of the world’s food. They are the source of much of our oxygen, and they are the major engine driving the world’s climate. And, since the end of the last Ice Age, they have covered significant areas of the land we, as humans, have inhabited. Maritime heritage and the exploration of humanity's past, and how we have been influenced by the oceans, how we respond, and how now, in the 21st century, the oceans and its species respond to us - not always to their benefit - are the focus of how we can use our understanding of our collective past to inform a better future for the oceans and by extension, the planet.
Currently Director of Maritime Heritage in the Office of National Marine Sanctuaries for the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration, Dr. Delgado oversees heritage programs and active research in the nation’s waters, as well as outreach and education on America’s underwater and marine heritage. Among his duties is administering NOAA’s Congressionally and court-directed oversight of RMS Titanic. Previously, he served a four-year term as President and CEO of the Institute of Nautical Archaeology, the world’s leading scientific and educational organization dedicated to the understanding of humanity’s seafaring history through the excavation and scientific study of shipwrecks. Before that, he was the Executive Director of the Vancouver Maritime Museum in British Columbia, Canada for fifteen years, and before that the maritime historian for the U.S. National Park Service. He is the author of more than 30 books, the most recent being Misadventures of a Civil War Submarine (Texas A&M University Press).
Erden will discuss stories and experiences from his circumnavigation by human power. He will be putting in context his theory about "setting audacious goals to invite records and to tease out greatness."
In memory of Göran Kropp, Erden decided to reach the highest summit on different continents except Antarctica. He would do so by human power as had Göran in his 1996 bicycle trip to climb Everest. In 2003, Erden summited Mt. McKinley after bicycling to Alaska towing his climbing gear like Göran and walking the length of the Kahiltna Glacier. During his circumnavigation by human power, he summited Kosciuszko in 2010 and Kilimanjaro in 2011. Aconcagua, Elbrus and Everest remain on Erden’s list of priorities over the coming years.
Erden recently completed the first solo circumnavigation by human power which took 5 years and 11 days. What started as a simple idea in 1997, tracing his finger across a world map hanging on the wall while working in a software development lab, would become his quiet obsession. An unfortunate accident which claimed the life of Göran Kropp while rock climbing together in eastern Washington in September of 2002, finally put him in motion. "Life is short, get on with it" was the message.
US citizen and long-time Seattle resident, Erden Eruç is the founder of the Seattle based 501(c)(3) nonprofit Around-n-Over with a mission to educate and inspire children. Human powered journeys are the source of their dispatches from the field. To date, Around-n-Over has raised and applied over $100k toward educational projects.
Erden is the leading ocean rower in the world today. He is the recipient of the 2013 Citation of Merit from the prestigious Explorers Club, one of the 2013 Adventurers of the Year – "Nine individuals changing the face of global adventure" by the Outside Magazine, and one of the 50 Most Adventurous Men by Men’s Journal. He is already listed in the 2009, 2012 and 2014 Guinness books of World Records. Among his records are: