M/Y Yalla Captain to Row Atlantic Solo for Ocean Conservation

26 April 2021By Lauren Beck
Capt. Mark Delstanche

Written by

Lauren Beck

Editor Lauren Beck has been with Dockwalk since 2006. At 13, she left South Africa aboard a 34-foot sailing boat with her family and ended up in St. Maarten for six years. Before college, she worked as crew for a year, and then cut her journalistic teeth at Better Homes and Gardens and Ladies’ Home Journal online. She loves traveling, reading, tennis, and rooting for the Boston Red Sox. Email her at

Capt. Mark Delstanche of 73-meter CRN M/Y Yalla has been training for more than a year for his upcoming solo and unsupported ocean row from New York to London. Delstanche’s goal is to complete the row in 100 days and he’s planning to carry provisions for 150 days.

The row was supposed to start on May 1 but has now been pushed back a few weeks, partly due to COVID restrictions. “National travel restrictions in the UK meant that I wasn’t able to get to the boat for sea trials quite as much as I hoped to and the international travel restrictions have added at least three weeks to the time away from my family,” he says. Delays also added a large cost to the overall adventure, which is largely self-funded, Delstanche explains.

“My biggest concerns are that of equipment failure and injury, but I’ve stocked up with duct tape, which should take care of all eventualities!”

The Suez Canal closure also affected his plans as his boat was caught up in the backlog. Delstanche originally planned to get to New York and to the boat by May 1 for final preparation with a goal of departing by the end of the second week of May. “With departure being pushed back, it puts my finish potentially in to worse weather by the time I hit the UK (as well as testing the patience of my boss, who has been incredibly understanding so far!),” Delstanche says. “My biggest concerns are that of equipment failure and injury, but I’ve stocked up with duct tape, which should take care of all eventualities!”

“Given that I’ve been wanting to row the Atlantic for the past 10 years and preparing for the trip for the past two [years] a two-week delay isn’t too much to put up with,” he says. His boat was due to arrive in New York on May 14 and get through customs by May 17 or 18, he notes, but as of May 7, it's been delayed another 10 days. His aim is to have all the last-minute provisioning by that time and be ready to start off within 24 hours of the boat’s arrival. “Thereafter, I’ll be praying to the weather gods for stable offshore winds for four days to get me clear of the continental shelf,” he says. 

One of the reasons Delstanche wanted to do the row was to raise awareness for ocean plastic pollution. “In the twenty years that I have been in the yachting industry, I’ve seen a huge increase in the amount of plastics in the water, turning previously pristine seas into places that guests refuse to even get in the water,” he told us at the time. “This has a knock-on effect with what we do, what we’re eating, and the environment we live in, and as such, I feel that we as seafarers and human beings living on this increasingly fragile planet have a duty to do something about it.” Delstanche will be supporting the Plastic Ocean Project by raising funds for the project and collecting samples for later analysis.

“I’m obviously very excited about getting underway and on with the challenge,” he says. “I’ve no doubt that I’ll get a few butterflies once my weather routers give me the green light to depart, but right now, I feel that I’ve done everything that I can to prepare for the adventure, so I’m fairly relaxed.”

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