Rainer Ballwanz is the strategist among us as a successful businessman. Born in Lower Saxony in 1959, he now lives with his family in Frankfurt. A city he loves and owes a lot to. It is not for nothing that his company is based here. In his private life, however, the happy father of a family is more inclined towards adventure.
Adrenalin is in his blood, and so it is not surprising that his love of racing has brought him from active years in the GT3 and GT4 class to flying. His great passion, however, is the exhausting of his physical and mental limits, as you can see most clearly from his travel profile. Otherness would be an appropriate keyword here, because who voluntarily crosses the Antarctic? Whether it is the high north of Norway or the infamous waters around Tierra del Fuego, Rainer is always on the lookout for new adventures.
Now, after the Himalayas and Kilimanjaro, an extreme of a completely different kind is added. Crossing the Atlantic in a three-man rowing boat is probably the most extraordinary challenge he has ever faced.
Because if there is no alternative but to go in one direction, you are forced to deal with yourself and what is feasible.
Or, to put it in his words,” …an insane decision, which must have to do with the miscommunication of some synapses…”
Rainer is undoubtedly the rock in the surf for us, whose experience and knowledge will contribute a great deal to the success of the journey.
What can we say? It is his fault that the three of us are sitting in the proverbial same boat. York Hovest, born 1978 in Wesel, is a professional investigative photographer and author whose books have been published under the National Geographic seal since 2014. He has published illustrated books on topics that may no longer be the focus of attention today, but which are still considered focal points. He cleverly combines ecological problems, social oppression and the power of economic interests to create impressive illustrated books that, despite their beautiful motifs, sometimes tell terrifying stories.
Since the summer of 2017, York has been working on the subject of oceans to show people the dramatic state of our oceans. But also the wonders, diversity and beauty that will be lost to us all if we do not learn to protect the oceans. For him, this Atlantic crossing is a kind of tribute that he pays to the sea. Out of respect and out of love. For what we humans have already done to our oceans, he regularly experiences on his expeditions and passes this knowledge on in his many lectures. Now it is time to feel what the sea means to him as a human being and what dangers it will hold in store for him.
But also what fantastic moments. And that’s exactly why York has his camera with him. “When I see a whale, I jump overboard and go diving. That’s what I look forward to the most”. We are already curious who he will meet under the water surface…
Andreas Stollreiter is already used to his travels with York, but if he had known what to expect, he would have shown York a bird in the first instance. But as is the case with him, he can’t resist York for long when it comes to going on another great journey. Andi’s thirst for adventure is simply too great for that. Born in Regensburg, he has lived in Munich for 18 years now and works in his own physiotherapy practice when he is not pilgrimaging around Mt. Kailash with York or roaming through the jungles of South America.
Which also makes him an indispensable part of the team. Because only through his knowledge of body and mind, he will be the one who will be able to balance out many difficult moments during the crossing with exercises and concentration training. Because when a hobby becomes a profession, you can be sure that there is real passion behind it. It is precisely this commitment that will ultimately give us the mental strength to keep our heads free.
If you asked Andi why he got involved in this unpredictable adventure, the answer would sound something like this: “…I don’t know! It is a feeling that I follow.”
It is precisely this feeling that sent him along the most extraordinary paths with York in previous years, and whose impressions, as he says, still have an effect today.
Matching York`s film project “The Heroes of the Seas” or in the English title „Heroes of the Sea“
the name of the boat is chosen, which should bring us safely across the Atlantic.
Heroes of the Sea
Those who know the project will know that we do not want to identify ourselves with this title. Rather, the name stands for all the people out there who make a difference with their unbroken hope of bringing about a rethink in society. It’s not just the heroes from York`s project. Each one of us can become a hero by deciding to do something for our environment.
This adventure is our appeal to people to finally find the courage to change something for themselves. Because even the smallest contribution counts. Together we will make it!
That’s why we row! The Atlantic will not only be a physical challenge, but above all a mental one! The will to create something, to trust that it will work! For us 3 it is 60 days at sea, but for mankind it is about the whole future! And so we plunge now into the preparations. Because it is not only about physical fitness!