Carpe Diem

Viktória and Gábor Rakonczay are two amazing people. These two young Hungarians rowed across the Atlantic, after raising funds, designing and building the boat themselves, and setting it in the water without ever having rowed in their lives. They survived a four-day storm so treacherous that a professional rescue team in a huge, specially equipped boat refused to go out and rescue them. They rowed in two-hour shifts, desalinated ocean water to drink, navigated the currents and waited out a windy stretch that blew them back 30 kilometers.

That’s not why they’re so amazing. It’s their ability to share what they learned on this journey, which most of us would call grueling and crazy, but which they found enlightening. They didn’t even train for the trip, physically. They knew that all would be decided “up here,” Gábor said, tapping his head during a presentation last night.

“We were asked to talk about conflict management,” said Viktória. “But we can’t, really, because we knew we couldn’t afford to have conflicts out there.”

That is the key. The common goal, that of reaching the other side, was no longer just a goal but a necessity, when they were not hours, or days, but weeks away from land. “Our egos fell away and we made decisions together. We had agreed before we began that Gábor would have the last word if a conflict arose, but we never had to put that into use,” Viktória said.

The Rakonczays speak with humor and smiles, with a touch of shyness that comes from both their youth and their nature. They’re inspiring without even realizing it, and have that can-do attitude that’s all too rare in Hungary. They’re happy to be able to relive the experience and share their insights by telling their story. I think you’d like to hear it.

Find out more about the Rakonczays at, The site is in Hungarian, but you can email Viktória in English for more information about their motivational presentations, at This link is not sponsored.


About adriknows

One day, people looking for tips on life in Budapest started coming to me. Friends, then friends of friends, and so on. People were telling newcomers and longtime Budapesters alike, “Adri knows!” Now it’s time to share what I’ve picked up over more than a decade of fun-and-frequently-frazzled family life in the big BP.
This entry was posted in Beyond Budapest, Wellness-Fitness-Happiness and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Carpe Diem

  1. Andrea says:

    it is so great to hear about inspirational Hungarians like this couple, thank you for bringing their story to my attention. As you say a can-do attitude in Hungarians is a rare quality.

    • adriknows says:

      Hi Andrea, I do have some unfortunate news about this couple. Gabor started an attempt at crossing the Atlantic alone, in a canoe, in December. Contact with him was lost on February 7th, and a sailboat that set off to try to find him has had no luck. His wife, Viki, has appeared on Hungarian television and radio, saying that she is certain that his satellite phone is merely out of order and remains hopeful that he is still making progress across the Atlantic. He is scheduled to arrive in Antigua around April 10th. We are hoping for the best. Adri

  2. Andrea says:

    Hi Adri,
    I’m sorry to hear that, I really hope that Gabor will be able to make contact soon!
    That’s another 3 weeks of anxious wait for Viki though…

  3. Pingback: Hungarian Canoeist Gábor Rakonczay Arrives Safely | adriknows

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