Pulling together – Experience courses to make your ‘crew’ go faster

The art of rowing is about pulling together – your crew is your crew, whether you get on with them or like them all, you are in the same boat, literally. However, despite any personal or professional differences everyone will benefit if they continually look for individual improvement in their own performance plus support their team-mates to help them do the same.

This had even more of an impact over the time it takes to row an ocean – or work in your job, study for school exams or simply live your life – small steps repeated over a long time deliver big results.

Marginal Gains

Ocean rowing is long term for a sport – the World Record which we were so close to is 33 days – most boats get across in closer to 50 days. Marginal gains count for so much yet are so often overlooked – shift changes, oar set up, gearing, boat set up, individual diets – the list is long and these all deliver extra speed for no extra effort. So why not do them? For the 1 million strokes required to cross an ocean every extra centimetre gained for free adds up to hours and days off the crossing time.

Imagine that in your own life; what things can you do a little better or start doing that are almost no effort yet make your personal, business or academic life a little bit better – every day?

‘Performance’ will go up, more potential will be realised and it will make your own boat go a little bit faster, become a little bit more satisfying every ‘stroke’ you take.

Pulling together

Atlantic Experience will show you that aboard our ocean rowing boat – pulling together makes the difference:

Spring Courses

Our Experience courses start in the spring – please get in touch to register your interest for groups of up to 32 people be it as a challenging reward for good performance and/or a team building and leadership day to help make your boat go faster.

Who are these courses for? See below:

– corporate

– individuals

– teams

– ocean rowing teams

– schools

– adventurers

– would be adventurers

– anyone who thinks ‘Ooh, that’s not for me, I couldn’t do that.’

Email:  ian@atlantic-experience.co.uk


‘I really enjoyed my Atlantic Experience day, from turning up on a cold morning (-2oc I believe). Getting the final few bits ready on the boat, the journey up to Rutland with new team mates, meeting additional team mates up at Rutland. It was all a bit outside of my comfort zone too!

The peaceful moment Lisa Too floated off the trailer, she was back where she belonged! She looked graceful and elegant! Seeing Ian’s face and how happy he looked was fantastic – we could all see how much this meant to him!

Out on the water we really discovered how important team work was, how to react to others and how to get the best out of the boat – of course the answer is team work! Bearing in mind we had only known each other for a few hours we really pulled together well – with a bit of encouragement from Ian!

Overall a fantastic day, I learned a lot and I really look forward to more adventures with Atlantic Experience.’


Celebrating extra-ordinary – Dyson Perrins Awards evening

It was a great visit to Dyson Perrins Church of England Academy to run sessions with the students and also be honoured to speak at the school Awards Evening.

I was privileged to present the first Atlantic Experience Certificate – Ordinary people, Extra-ordinary things, to a student selected by the school and whose name is now on board our ocean rowing boat.

At the end of the evening there was a ‘team photograph’ for all the ‘Awardees’ and it is fair to say that I am highly enthusiastic about celebrating these ‘ordinary’ people being recognised for their extra-ordinary achievements!




I learned so much from Martin Cross, below left, who is also an Olympic Champion – and they know how to celebrate success – something I now fully encourage in schools for kids getting their ‘medals’ as the photo above shows…..in comparison to Martin and his crew getting their Gold medals below. Good work! Martin-Cross-and-crew-001 (1)








Martin is recognised on board our ocean boat – as is Tanith from the school as she has also without doubt achieved extra-ordinary things. Anyone coming on board for a paddle will not need to know who the people are – just that like all ‘ordinary’ people, they have done something extra-ordinary and will keep doing so in the future.



Maiden ‘voyage’ of our ocean boat

In the last 12 months we have worked with over 3,000 people in schools, businesses and networking groups with our keynote talks and/or workshops.

Core belief:

Our core belief is that there are only ‘ordinary’ people on the planet and it is ordinary people that do extra-ordinary things – this could be recovering from serious illness, getting back into work from unemployment or starting your own business. It could be in personal lives, relationships – or it could be winning Gold medals at the Olympics or rowing across oceans.

Ocean rowing boat:

An extension of our keynote talks and workshops will now be on the practical side as we have finally got our ocean rowing boat in the water! After 12 months or more of rebuild work from her original purpose of rowing across the Atlantic Ocean with double Olympic Champion James Cracknell and TV presenter Ben Fogle.

Remember, it might look idyllic on Rutland Water but this boat was designed to cross 3,000 miles of the Atlantic Ocean and that is exactly what she did in 49 days 19 hours and 8 minutes from December 2005 into 2006. All that time aboard a 7 metre boat largely rowing 2 hours on and 2 hours off, try and imagine that……..or better still come and Experience it!

Practical courses:

We will be launching our corporate and education ‘Atlantic Experience’ practical courses in the Spring with additional options on bushcraft, survival, orienteering and other activities.

These will be tailored according to need:


Leadership and team development sessions and/or reward sessions for sales teams, management teams, staff etc.


For schools we will offer these as challenging outdoor activities for students and also for activities to run with disengaged students plus also for staff.


For other training and coaching partners we will offer bespoke packages to help build CVs with unique Experiences that translate directly into the workplace with transferable skills.


For would be adventurers who want to get out of their comfort zone and try something unique – without the potentially massive cost in money and time of going on an expedition.

Please email us to register your interest: ian@atlantic-experience.co.uk

Insights into the sessions include from Daniel Lewis, owner of LWS Group:

‘For you, watching your boat float gracefully off of the trailer into the water, after months of work, preparation and tears (of joy and despair) must have been immensely rewarding. After having been involved at the ‘refurbishment stage’, even though in such a small way, even I felt proud for you. 

For me the whole day was ‘epic’ as my daughter would say. An early start to prep the boat and trailer. The drive to Rutland with other crew lads discussing our rowing experience (or lack of) and the shared anticipation of the day ahead. Meeting some Kiwi fella (Grant Rawlinson – Legend) who was to be our final crew lad and wondering how he managed to climb Everest with those short legs !! Putting the boat into the water and suddenly thinking ‘goodness, will five of us fit on there’ !! Then thinking ‘Crikey, how would four of us cope on there for 40 days across the Atlantic’ !!!!! Taking my first pull of the oar (I hope that’s technically the right terminology) was a feeling of pure elation, being immediately in the Zone, with my team mate / crew lad working together to make Lisa Too glide through the water. I just wanted to carry on, out of the harbour and onwards !!’

Even though I had only just met my three crew mates, the experience brought us closer together and as soon as we arrived at Rutland we were working as a team in an environment completely new to all of us. I thoroughly recommend the ‘Atlantic Experience’ and can’t wait to get back on the water !!’

A second insight from Everest conquering crew member, Grant Rawlinson follows:

‘It was a great day and thank you again for the privilege and for all you and the teams hard work getting the boat ready and delivered while I just turned up!

Seeing your passion for the rebuild is so inspiring in itself. After hearing the high’s and low’s of your ocean rowing experiences, many of which would have put most people off, it is very obvious how much the sport is entwined with who you are. It gives you direction, heartache and unrivalled happiness, all elements of a rich and memorable life.

I wish you all the success with Lisa Too, may she continue to carry you far from the safety of shore, both in body and in mind, on endless adventure, inspiring all who row with her that we have more in us than we ever dreamed, and then return us safely to our loved ones.’

A third insight here too:

I really enjoyed Sunday, From turning up on a cold morning (-2c I believe). Getting the final few bits ready on the boat, the journey up to Rutland with new team mates, meeting additional team mates up at Rutland.

The peaceful moment Lisa Too floated off the trailer, she was back where she belonged! She looked graceful and elegant! Seeing Ian’s face and how happy he looked was fantastic – we could all see how much this meant to him!

Out on the water we really discovered how important team work was, how to react to others and how to get the best out of the boat – of course the answer is team work! Bearing in mind we had only known each other for a few hours we really pulled together well – with a bit of encouragement from Ian. 

Overall a fantastic day and I really look forward to more adventures with Atlantic Experience

We have some test runs to do and a little bit of fine fettling and then we will commence our first courses for businesses, schools, individuals, adventurers and would be ocean rowers – it will be an Experience!

Below, the boat from 10 years ago as she set out across the Atlantic:









These are from when we first ever laid eyes on her – it was going to be a mission:

She then went through this stage:

….and all this ended up at this point……re-named in honour of Ian Rowe’s wife:


A big thank you to sponsors and supporters, LWS Group, Swift Racing, AES Construction and KPI People for their help and support getting us onto the water.

Lastly a big thank you to Lucy and Anglian Water for sorting out access to Rutland Water at the 11th hour – great to start working with them and a big relief to get out.


John O’Gaunt School

jog logo

A day of activities, talks and Awards at John O’Gaunt School.

A quick tour of the school with the Headteacher was very, very insightful – the challenges the school has handled and is handling, their ethos and vision. Very impressive……


Our Values are to be:

  • Passionate about learning
  • Proud of our achievements
  • Ambitious for our students
  • Supportive of our differences
  • Caring for ourselves and each other
  • Determined to be the best we can be

First off was getting involved in the house rowing competition – the school had specifically hired in half a dozen rowing machines to support the rowing themed visit of Atlantic Experience – what an honour!

Each house was going to have a day to get as many house members involved and row as far as they can to with a winner to be announced at the end of the week. It was fantastic to see how the students got so engaged, all age groups and other houses supporting the ones on the rowers.

concept-ii-model-d-rowerThe school would desperately like to get three ergos for their own – any help from the rowing community would be massive.

Typical of this sort of thing – there were some stand out candidates for getting in a boat – largely due to the length of their limbs and not least their enthusiasm and commitment. I think there is a lot to be said for other activities helping young people discover that pivotal moment that can change their course and apply themselves more to their school careers.

The school are very aware of this and it ranges from birds to outdoor classroom, activity areas and now, potentially, rowing machines. I was tempted onto one as well – not publishing my score but chalked up a breathless few metres.

The next session was a keynote talk to students who were selected as high performers and looking at ways to keep motivation and keep going at a task. Some great insights from the kids and not least very nice for us to get great feedback on the talk – and even be asked for some autographs!!

The Headboy and Headgirl sat in on the session and immediately identified that it would be great to run a similar thing with kids at the other end of the performance spectrum – the theme of there being only ordinary people in the world, and it is ordinary people that do extraordinary things really struck home.

Last on the agenda was the evening Awards Ceremony with an opening speech from the Headteacher about the value of education today being so powerful for their future lives – a real insight too from a teacher who talked about how influential teachers can be on young people. Here she was, turning a school round, leading from the front – yet still haunted by being rubbish at maths….as her teacher told her she was at school. Words have such power.


‘Writ’ large on the side of the boat that won last year’s Atlantic pairs event…..it’s a choice

In the Awards speech I talked about attitude, how we have a choice; using the boat analogy, we can get caught up in worrying so much about how our boat is not as good as someone else’s that we forget that it is the crew that makes the boat go faster, not the boat itself.

Equally, if everyone does just a little bit – parents, staff, students, support staff – just what can all those people pulling together achieve?

At the end of the day, my belief is that what makes a champion is what is in their heart – not just the medal round their neck or the award in their hand – and John O’Gaunt school has plenty of heart.

Good work.

Nice to get a name check on Twitter that evening from the Head teacher too…..

Thanks @ianrowe65 for an inspiring day at JOG; choose your attitude, be part of the team, all gold medalists. Brilliant stuff.



Dyson Perrins School

A brilliant day at Dyson Perrins school in Malvern. A small secondary school with around 650 students – but what a great place to go and be part of the team!

We did two sessions with students – the Atlantic Experience keynote talk to two year groups with a theme of being relentless and staying on target and not being distracted/held back by what other people say.

The students were outstanding – great interaction and contribution from them and with some really insightful questions from how we kept going on our darkest moments at sea to what sort of sun tan lotion did we use!

The latter raised some laughter – but it is a great question around control the controllables – no sun tan lotion can lead to sun burn and sunstroke which can lead to not rowing and failure.

We also did some rowing sessions with the students – team competitions, voluntary sessions and part of the normal school day too. Noticeable that lots more girls attended the voluntary session than boys – any thoughts on that?

Great fun and another demonstration of how rowing is such a good sport – even on Concept ergs rather than the water. What other sport can you simply set a time so that everyone starts and finishes at the same moment and yet you still get a ranking based on how far you have rowed – no trailing in last at cross country and getting turned off sport here!


My inspiration, far left Martin Cross, Olympic Champion – ordinary man, extra-ordinary things. 

The day ended with the school Awards ceremony – a real privilege to speak at that with our core belief of ordinary people, extra-ordinary things. Some of the students did take the chance to demonstrate their ‘Olympic salute’ whereas most did the normal somewhat self conscious ‘shuffle’ onto stage, quick thank you and then get off asap. How can we help support young people celebrate their own success like the champions they are?

1 Certificate - extra ordinary achievement award

We gave out our first Atlantic Experience ‘Ordinary people, extra-ordinary things’ award to Tanith – a young lady who has had to handle extremely challenging illness which has been life changing. She was an inspiration – bearing in mind simply coming up onto the stage was an achievement in itself – humbling to meet her, inspiring to talk with her and a proud moment to give her a certificate and add her name to our ocean rowing boat.

Special thanks go to Bev at the school, Head teacher Stuart, Babs in PE and Lyn the IT expert for their help and support on the day – a real family feeling at the school, welcoming, inclusive, determined. Reflected in the overwhelmingly positive comments by students, staff, support staff and parents that I heard all day.

Good work!

Fast Track to employment with SSG

Great session today delivering the Atlantic Experience to a group of unemployed people as part of their Fast Track course back into employment with SSG.

Great participants and great coaches at SSG too with some remarkable ‘capsize’ stories coming out – from how people lost their jobs to handling bereavement and critical illness.

Humbling to be part of and inspirational to see how ‘ordinary’ people handle extra-ordinary things.

Good work.

Thomas Tallis – Atlantic Experience with added Olympic gold!

I couldn’t keep an Atlantic Experience day at a school in Greenwich last week working with their Year 11 cohort plus a targeted group.

I was both fortunate and privileged to be able to call upon former Olympic rowing champion, teacher, coach and ‘sourceror’ Martin Cross to step in for the day.

Feedback from the session is below:

The morning with Martin went very well on Thursday and we have had lots of excellent feedback.

His talk was on point and well received and he worked brilliantly with some of our most disaffected students.

I was really happy with what he did for us.

Good work!


First Certificates now been issued


First round of school kids to get their names on Atlantic Experience certificates for completing their Atlantic Experience ‘leaving the harbour’ workshop.

Theme was about getting out of our comfort zone and out to where the magic happens – which for some of them was about getting away from ‘disengaged’ behaviour, within their comfort zone, and moving towards getting more from school…for themselves.

Such great potential, maybe now they can see a new way to realise more of it.

The certificates are individually numbered and have an original sliver of wood from the boat from when she crossed the Atlantic; each recipient of a Certificate will also have their name added to the newly rebuilt ocean rowing boat.

Boat names ab

Each recipient will therefore have a part of the history of the boat and will also be a part of whatever future history she will write. The Certificates are to remind them that they have taken part in an Atlantic Experience workshop to help keep alive what they have taken from it.

Corporate names coming soon – why don’t you come on board!

Certificate sponsors website

Thomas Tallis – creative entrepreneur and musician…


Thomas Tallis

Learn something new every day……I’ve learned this from Thomas Tallis School where the Atlantic Experience is off to at the end of the month.

This fella was a pioneer of the ‘music industry’…..back in the 1500s:

‘Thomas Tallis, composer. He was a true original who made music for the kings and queens of the 16th Century, and who lived in Greenwich.

Two of his most famous pieces are Spem In Allium and If Ye Love Me which are still regularly played today. In 1910, the composer Vaughan Williams created a very famous piece based on a Tallis melody entitled Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis.

As well as making music that has lasted half a millennium, Tallis was also an entrepreneur and innovator. In 1575 he and 21 year old composer William Byrd were granted a patent to print and publish music. This was the first time such a patent had been granted.

Having exclusive rights to print music wasn’t his only creative advantage: he and Byrd were so popular with the monarchy that they were given a monopoly on making what’s called polyphonic music – music that includes two or more independent melodic voices. This was the equivalent of something like The Beatles being given the one and only licence to make make pop music.

Fortunately, they used this privilege to make music that is still popular today. In 2012, Spem In Allium, which was composed for Elizabeth I and which features a massive 40 singers, was back at Number One in the UK classical charts.

Thomas Tallis was a pragmatic musician; this was a time when the Kings and Queens switched between Catholic and Protestant faiths, with dangerous consequences for court members caught on the wrong side. Tallis, however, avoided the religious controversy and made music for everyone.

When Henry VIII broke with Catholicism in 1534 Tallis changed his style. Instead of using obvious musical flourishes, he focused instead on rhythm and the relationship between words and music. He continued his creative experiments until he died in November 1585.

In short, he was a true creative.’

Hazeley Academy – 9 out of 10!


9 out of 10 for Hazeley Academy – what a great school to work in, highly motivated staff, students and parents; we ask what score out of 10 people would give the school – students, parents and staff.

Hazeley was getting scores of 8 & 9 from everyone with at least one 9.5 – really impressive all round and a vision of developing ‘happy, smiling, young people’.

What would you score your old school?

Perhaps this vision reflects their goal achievement at GCSE of getting the best GCSE results in the city of Milton Keynes?

Great work.

vision graphic