OK, I recycle. I drive an electric car, too — a BMW i3. I have solar panels on the roof of my home as well. But, I know I could do more; I was reminded recently of this when interviewing the history-making rower, ocean conservationist in the form of a 19-year-old Princeton undergraduate, Oliver Crane. With the mindset and training of a young Olympian, the honor and pleasure was all mine.
As the youngest member of what I like to call the “Remarkable Crane Dynasty of Overachievers,” Oliver decided he wanted to bring purpose to his gap year by doing something for our oceans. He set out to prove he could do this task by taking on the challenge of crossing the Atlantic Ocean in its entirety; launching off the coast of the Canary Islands’ northern African shores. The training was harsh and the adventure sometimes overwhelming, but the main takeaway of the experience was the devastating pollution in our oceans, which shocked and raised even more concerns about conservation for Crane.
After training for the upcoming journey and learning that this is not the kind of rowing done on lakes or rivers, Crane launched on Dec. 14, 2017, from the Canary Islands and arrived at Antigua on Jan. 28, 2018. The crossing took 44 days, 16 hours and nine minutes. In completing the row, Crane became the youngest person ever to solo-row the Atlantic. What was it like?
“Living on a boat that is ripping through 30 to 40 foot waves is not something you ever forget,” Crane said. Spending Christmas and New Year’s alone on a boat was also a first.
Something in the Crane family, probably their DNA, has these kiddos choosing some of life’s toughest challenges when it comes to what others have done in traditional gap years, like community service with Habitat for Humanity or one of the many other pay-it-forward activities.
Crane’s oldest brother, Cason, completed his
gap year by becoming the first openly gay man to scale the Seven Summits. The task was achieved when Cason reached the peak of Mount McKinley. His second oldest brother, David, spent his gap year biking across Africa to raise money and awareness for the nature conversation project, Conservation International. The older sister, Bella, hiked the Pacific Crest trail from Mexico to Canada, raising money and bringing attention to the plight of Syrian refugees.
The Crane Family’s story will continue, and I got the greenlight to share this exclusive: a forthcoming book by the four siblings is in the works. I imagine a movie isn’t too far down the road either.