Lukas Haitzmann – Alone across the Atlantic
Alone across the Atlantic: Lukas Haitzmann wants to do more than just exist.
“Do more with your life than just exist,” Lukas Haitzmann calls out to his audience when he is on stage. In 2019, the then 18-year-old crossed the Atlantic alone in a rowing boat. Lukas Haitzmann made it straight into the Guinness Book of Records and became the “world record holder as the youngest person to row alone and unassisted across an ocean.” And this at an age when most people are just finishing school.
Is he crazy? No, but extreme!
Rowing across the Atlantic alone is a huge challenge and an extremely demanding physical and mental feat. It usually takes months of intensive preparation, both physically and mentally, to complete such a journey. Those who want to embark on such an adventure have to cope with extreme weather conditions, unpredictable ocean currents, isolation and confronting themselves as a lone warrior.
Rowing across the Atlantic: 40 percent of people who attempt it never make it to the other side.
Rowing across the Atlantic is a lonely journey, with no contact with the outside world for weeks or even months. The daily challenges range from navigating the open sea to coping with exhaustion and loneliness. The physical strain of rowing for hours on end, day after day, is enormous and it takes incredible determination to keep going against all odds.
The extreme adventurers who undertake such expeditions report a profound personal transformation and a heightened awareness of their own limits and capabilities. It is undoubtedly an amazing feat that requires tremendous endurance, usually preparation and determination.
Alone, in the middle of the open ocean.
What is it that makes such a young person, alone and with just five months of preparation time, cross 4,900 kilometers across the Atlantic in a seven-meter rowing boat? To put this into perspective: the normal preparation time is four years.
For almost two months, Lukas Haitzmann heard nothing but the sea, his own rowing strokes, his own breath and his own voice. Because there was nothing else, no counterpart except the mighty nature, which gave him waves up to twelve meters high and unforeseen currents, in short, which made him feel how small man is compared to the powerful whims of nature. Lukas Haitzmann stuck it out, pushing himself to the point of total physical and mental exhaustion.
In the beginning, he was accompanied by Spotify, says Lukas Haitzmann, who can give his lectures in German, English and Italian. But for the last 30 days, it stopped working, no signal. And it became “very quiet around me and very loud in my head”.
The boy and the sea.
Lukas Haitzmann reports feelings of happiness that he never experienced on land. He swam with dolphins, which he spotted on December 24 of all days, and went swimming with them. With neoprene, of course. He reports little sleep of around four hours a night and hallucinations due to sleep deprivation. He tells of currents that once made him row for 36 hours at a time and says that he had to eat 10,000 calories a day and that his meals were the same every day. Astronaut food, for 59 days.
So why would someone embark on such a daring journey that could have cost him his life?
Lukas Haitzmann had had a rough patch for two years beforehand. He felt like he couldn’t do anything, was dyslexic and, as he says, “not the perfect child”. He felt like a loser, he lacked recognition and the spiral continued downwards: he became lazier and lazier and did worse and worse at university and school and found an anchor in sport. Here he was able to achieve success and realized: I can do something – and get recognition for it.
Over time, his sporting activities became more and more extreme, he cycled from Austria to Italy and Croatia and back and says: “I like it when the challenge lasts a long time, I don’t want it to be over quickly, I get a kick out of having to pick myself up anew every day.”
When he told his parents about his plan to cross the Atlantic alone in a rowing boat, they were completely against it. He did it anyway, after all, he was 18 and looking back he says: “When I see myself in the photos, such a young lad, with no previous experience, it was a bit naive.”
Lukas Haitzmann: “You have no idea until you’ve even tried it.”
When asked what helped him the most, he replies: “In English there is this expression “jump in the deep end” (of the swimming pool). What helped me was that I didn’t have much time to change my mind. I didn’t think about it too much, I just went for it.”
In his talks, Lukas Haitzmann encourages people to realize their dreams and tackle their goals, with everything that entails. He calls on people not just to exist, but to do.
Lukas Haitzmann: rousing keynotes about adventure, perseverance, courage and self-confidence.
He talks about the power of self-belief and how to build self-confidence to overcome challenges. He shares his experiences on motivating and leading young talents or explains how to recognize and seize opportunities in personal and professional life based on his experiences. Lukas Haitzmann shares his knowledge about effective decision making in unpredictable situations and adapting to challenging goals and uncertainty, as well as courage and risks, perseverance and determination.
Do more than just exist.
At the age of 20, Lukas Haitzmann is an impressive keynote speaker, as he talks about his adventures with youthful ease and joy.
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