What were you doing 6 weeks ago?

Six weeks ago the Atlantic Rowing Race crews rowed out of the harbour – two boats have now finished and the race for 3rd place is getting tighter and tighter as the solo boat of Gav Hennigan is getting reeled in by the American Oarsmen trio.

A week ago Gav was ahead of the Americans by around 80 miles – that lead is now under 14 miles with 477 to go – it will be a tough call to stay ahead. Imagine the facts of that – 42 days at sea, 2,062 miles rowed and you are just 14 miles apart and less than 500 to go – that will be brutal and exciting for the next 10 days or so!

Comparatively speaking only a few miles further back the race is also on between the Brits on board Fresh Dental Challenge and the Saffers of Facing It who lead them by just 30 miles with 546 to go.

Next up is the British trio of A-Adventures and the lads on board must be looking over their shoulders with the four British girls on board Atlantic Endeavour only 63 miles behind and 607 to the finish – anything is possible.

There is a step out to the female solo of Elaine Hopley with under a 1,000 miles remaining – that is still one. thousand. miles. who is 260 miles ahead of American pair 32 Degrees North.

Then we are into the back marker solos who amazingly keep battling away and are being hammered by the weather showing boat speed of just 0.5knots for Rossiters and 0.8 knots for Rowers Ark who remarkably have just 2.9 miles between them for distance to finish.

It will be incredible if they go get in as at that rate of progress they are still looking at being out there for another 70 days….compared to Elaine Hopley’s and Gav Hennigan’s solo efforts it makes you think they must have had some serious issues as that pace is not much more than drifting. Food must become an issue at the very least…

 

 

Finish line in sight….almost!

I think we all know that moment when we have taken on a physical task, a training session or a race when we feel like it will never end, it always happens in the last three quarters, that point where doubt creeps in. We have gone through the excitement of getting to halfway and then the realisation arrives that all that means is we have the same amount to do all again!

We have gone through the excitement of getting to halfway and then the realisation arrives that all that means is we have the same amount to do all again – and then we start to have that internal battle between stopping and keeping going.

It takes a bit of time and the fear/courage battle to get through that and then it can be like the sun comes out – all of a sudden the finish line has miraculously come into sight (literally or figurately) and we realise that there is enough petrol in the tank to make it – in fact, there can be enough petrol in the tank, mentally and physically, to raise our game once more and smash it into the finish.

That is happening out on the ocean right now; after 34 days at sea any records might have passed them by but the lads onboard Latitude 35 must all but be able to smell Antigua as it is only 134 miles away. It is still worth reflecting on that number – any race of 134 miles is a long, long way – but having rowed over 2,400 already that seems nothing.

Add in to that the weather gods have started to smile and the boat is smashing along at an incredible 4.1 knots so a day and a half and they could be in – a couple more sunrises to go.

Ocean rowing like ‘normal’ life is all about contrasts and the contrast here is still the lads at the back of the fleet who have also passed a milestone – in the last few days they rowed through the 2,000 miles to go point…..so 1,806 miles behind the lead boat.

I think numbers like that bring home the sheer enormity of what rowing the ocean means – Daryl Farmer has so far rowed just over 600 miles in 34 days, with 1,941 miles remaining he could be out there until the end of April……that is a big, seemingly now impossible, challenge. He needs the weather gods to get a massive smile on their faces and yet the weather forecast does not look great.

Row4James have secured 2nd place and are now 200 miles behind the leaders after their neck and neck tussle early on; a further 600 miles back is a ‘pack’ of 6 boats albeit spread over 200 miles and all of these will soon be under the 1,000 miles to go. A thousand miles to go!

300 miles further back again is the solo boat of Elaine Hopley, plugging away and keeping ahead of a men’s pair and two of the men’s solos. Awesome.

So keep watching as these ordinary people complete their extra-ordinary challenge….

Oh, and if you ever think that ocean rowing is something for you then get in touch to come and have a go on our boat on a river or lake or take part in a Thames Row or Coast to Coast.

If that lights a fire I can introduce you to Charlie at Rannoch Adventure who can support you getting out onto the ocean for a trial or even the ‘main event’ the lads pictured above, Tom and James, are seen having an experience session on Rutland Water – 18 months later they rowed the Atlantic – that could be you!

Use the contact form below..

 

28 days at sea!

A picture of us at sea – a few days before we were swimming instead of rowing!

The Atlantic Rowing Race fleet has been at sea for 28 days – the same time our challenge was rowing for. The lead boat has continued to be Latitude 35 after their early tussle with Row4James they have stretched out a lead of 117 miles, ahave rowed just over 2,000 miles and have just 547 miles remaining until they row into the harbour in Antigua in a week or so’s time.

To put that in perspective they are around the same distance to the finish as we had on our fateful day after the same amount of time at sea – we had however started from Tarfaya in mainland Africa, something like 415km/258miles further east!

Adding further perspective to the ocean rowing challenge are the boats at the other end of the field – the solo  Daryl Farmer has now covered, wait for it….461 miles so has an enormous 2,092 miles still to go; 99 miles ahead of him is another solo of Dmytro Rezvoy who has just under the 2,000 to go. It is worth pointing out that from 5 January up until yesterday it appears that Daryl had been blown backwards some 20 miles….imagine what that must feel like…! (Check this out using the slider at the bottom of the Race Tracker on the Talisker site – click here) At their current rate of progress, therefore, both men are looking at well over another 100 days at sea. That seems insurmountable if nothing else due to the rations they will have on board their boats.

Next up are 32 Degrees North, a pair with 1735 days to go and the female solo rower, Elaine Hopley with 1656 to go – both have a monumental challenge ahead with potentially at least another 50+ days at sea.

There is then a pack of crews, albeit spread over 200 miles with the all girls crew Atlantic Endeavour with 1421 miles to go and the remarkable boat of this years race, Soulo Gav in overall third place with 1218 miles to go – and that is a solo boat rowed by endurance athlete Gavan Hennigan. Check out Gavan’s website to see more of his remarkable story – including his comeback from drugs and alcohol addiction, genuinely extra-ordinary.

Below are the positions today – this is a screen shot – another week to go and the first crew could well be popping the champagne – keep watching….!

 

Atlantic Rowing Race update – 22 days at sea…

The lead boat, Latitude 35 will enter the last 1,000 miles today – just 60 miles behind them are the Row4James crew who still have every chance of catching them – but that chance dwindles with ever hour that goes by. At present speed Latitude 35 are still two weeks from home. 

However, at the other end of the spectrum is the solo boat Rowers Ark with Daryl Farmer who still has 2,081 miles ahead of him – potentially another 80 – 90 days at sea which has to make finishing a marginal option with rations on board etc. The fastest solo boat is more than 600 miles ahead of him and has less than 1500 miles to go.

This report below was published by Duty Officer Lee Fudge for the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Rowing Race Day 22, 4th of January:

As the crews approach the start of their 4th week at sea, most have been struggling through almost a week of light, confused winds. This weather has had a different effect on the rowers depending on boat design, crew size and geographical location with the boats at the front of the race experiencing more helpful conditions and those at the back being frustrated by low wind speed and unwanted wind direction. On top of that, all of the boats have been experiencing waves from the north resulting in difficult rowing conditions with the sea on the boats’ beam. These light winds have also been the reason for most of the fleet having been enveloped in the surreal haze brought about when the Saharan sand carried in the Calima winds was dropped over most of the boats. This has meant that many boats were unable to get a full charge from their solar panels to top up their batteries, which has prolonged power problems across almost all of the fleet.

The continuing power issues mean that many boats are having to steer by hand, which is slowing them down. Additionally, they are concerned about making water – the biggest drain on power of any system on the boat. Most crews are manging power very carefully and considering what systems to sacrifice to best manage battery charge while some are considering hand-pumping their water with the back-up watermaker. As well as this, there are problems with autohelms and GPS systems forcing rowers to work with their back-up systems and some satellite phones have started to malfunction. Fortunately for the crews, back-up and redundant systems and equipment are a mandatory requirement so every boat is managing.

They are starting to see the winds become more easterly and increase in strength and the Calima sand haze has now been left behind but pressure systems approaching boats in the north may see them challenged by strong headwinds while boats that have avoided this are having to maintain a delicate navigation plan to avoid being pushed too far south. With higher winds forecast, recent fixes to rudder and steering systems will be tested and proactive solutions to potential problems are being worked on by crews, Atlantic Campaigns, Support Vessels and suppliers and boat builders in the UK and US.

We will see where they all are in another few days once they have been at sea for 4 weeks, 28 days at sea…

Dead heat with the leaders – solos struggling

An image taken from the Race Tracker above – showing Latitude 35 with a very slight edge, if any, over Team Row4James

Click here to go to the Talisker Race Tracker – zoom in on the boats and use the ‘time slider’ at the bottom of the ocean chart which will move the boats back and forth from the start – you will see some have had spells of going backwards already. There is a long, long way to go….

Seasickness and the reality of what lies ahead will now be properly hitting the crews, particularly the people who have not been out there before and the wind and seas lift in the ocean swells and they have had their first night at sea.

Currently the waves will be coming at the boats from almost beam on from their left hand side – as they sit in the rowing seats – with the swell showing around 1m – 2metres; the wind, ideally, is almost directly behind them and both Latitude 35 and Row4James are showing boat speeds of 3.4 knots – world record pace! Compare that to a couple of the solos who are showing less than one knot and you can do the maths on how long they will be out there for on their 3,000 mile journey.

The weather in the coming week looks ideal – so speed will almost certainly pick up for the leaders as they get away from the Canaries and out into the deep ocean – where winds are forecast to pick up from the current 10 – 15 knots to 20+ knots – that will be scary fast coming down the big swells which are forecast to increase to 3 – 4 metres!

Without doubt they are record breaking conditions – and the current lead crews have the personnel on board to take full advantage of that.

There is a long, long way to go….keep watching!

Sean and Andy in last year’s race – it’s a big ocean

 

Atlantic Rowing Race 2016 – 30 day barrier to be broken at last…?

Image result for atlantic rowing race images big wave

As I write this there are less than 20 hours until the start of this year’s Atlantic Rowing Race – now an annual event rather than every two years.

It is a little different from our trip in that the crews start together from La Gomera in the Canary Islands, roughly 400 kilometres west of where we started from in Tarfaya, mainland Africa. There are 12 teams scheduled to depart with four solos, two pairs, three trios and 3 fours, one of which is the all female crew and they will have at sea with them a safety/support yacht should anyone need assistance – another difference to our trip! The yacht is not there to lend outside assistance and is purely there for emergencies although it may well swing by to say hello to crews as and when.

Looking at the boats in the fleet, the clear favourite to win must be Latitude 35 with Jason Caldwell, Angus Collins and Alex Simpson on board, seasoned ocean rowers plus top flight rower Matthew Brown.

Without doubt they have to be contenders to become the first boat in history to row the Atlantic in under 30 days.

The women’s record could well come under threat too with the Atlantic Endeavour Team and you can see more on their website by clicking here

You can follow the progress of all the crews on the website by clicking here – pick one, adopt it, support them, be part of rowing the ocean!

You can also download the racetracker on your phone, look out for the Yellowbrick app and download the Talisker Whiskey Atlantic Rowing Race 2016.

 

 
 

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