Book review: the Oarsome adventures of a fat boy rower by Kevin Biggar

Kevin Biggar Before I review I need to tell you how I came upon this book. I went to the annual Rotary book sale, popular here due to the high price of books in the shops. I like factual books, biography, adventure, that sort of thing. I picked this one out because it said rowing, and it seemed to be written by an ‘ordinary guy’ who decided to randomly row the Atlantic. I kind of can relate to that, having come from fat and unfit to out of the blue deciding to run a half marathon, ending up on team GB. It sounded like a good book. 

‘How I went from couch potato to Atlantic rowing race winner’ is an intriguing statement on its own, so I wanted to read on.

Kevin tells the story of his background, describing himself as a thirty something fat boy who still lives at home. He reads a book ‘The naked rower’ by Rob Hammill that makes him decide that a grand challenge like rowing the atlantic would be the best way to get his life back on track. The thing is, he has never rowed before, and hasn’t a cent to his name.

I can already relate. It was as a result of reading Jane Tomlinson’s book ‘You can’t take it with you’ that I decided to get fit and give triathlon a go. I hadn’t ridden a bike since I was a kid and couldn’t swim freestyle at all.

This is a down to earth story that, even through the account of a 42 day rowing race, still manages to have a mail biting ending. He has many odds to beat, and tackles each one in a pig headed ‘of course I can’ type of way.

Biggar shows through his own actions, that nothing at all stands in the way of a goal, if you have the right mind set. He has a hilarious way of telling the stories, enabling every reader to relate to them.

I did find it really funny when he starts describing the nightmares he had with rowing seats when he first started rowing. I can relate to that also!

By the time the clock shows 15 minutes I am desperately trying to redesign the whole seat system in my head. It sucks. I can’t believe rowers out up with it.


It’s a truly incredible read, and I would highly recommend it. What a random discovery!

After I read the book, I looked up his web site, I hadn’t even realised who he was! He now presents a TV series where they re-enact famous old adventurers routes and stories in New Zealand, in period costume of the age. It’s called First Crossings.

His last line of the book was

‘You know mate, we don’t want to stop after doing just one thing.’

‘What are you thinking?’

‘Walking to the South Pole’

‘Yeah, sounds good. let’s do it!’


That’s the next book that I want to read. Because, yes, he did do it!

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