French adventurer, 75, missing after attempting to row Atlantic

A 75-year-old Frenchman attempting to row across the Atlantic ‘to laugh at old age’ is missing, feared dead.

Portuguese coast guards found Jean-Jacques Savin’s overturned boat off the archipelago of the Azores on Friday.

The body of the French adventurer trying to row across the Atlantic has not been recovered, the Portuguese navy said on Sunday, aiming to clear up confusion after Savin’s support team said his body had been found.

‘The search ended at the end of the day yesterday (Saturday) without it being possible to find the victim,’ said a statement from the navy, according to France 24 (

‘One of the merchant ships collected a waterproof bag that contained the navigator’s identification documents.’

The navy also said that ‘a warning’ remained in effect for ships sailing in the area to be aware of the possibility of sighting the castaway.’

Questioned by AFP, a navy spokesman said that during the rescue operation, the team had had “strong reasons to believe that a body could be inside” the cabin of Savin’s vessel, the Audacieux.

The triathlete set off from the southern tip of mainland Portugal on 1 January. He’d previously crossed the Atlantic alone in a custom-built barrel in 2019, a 127-day trip.

Savin was hoping to reach the Caribbean in a rowing boat eight metres long and 1.7 metres wide, with a rowing station at its centre, according the The Guardian.

Shortly after leaving on 1 January, unfavourable wind conditions had forced Savin to extend his trip by 900km (550 miles).

On Wednesday, he reported “strong swell and … wind” on Facebook, saying he had been forced to switch from using an electric water desalinator to a backup one operated by hand.

“It’s costing me physical energy,” he wrote. But “be assured I am not in danger”.

Main image courtesy of Portuguese Navy.

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