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… 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 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.


Ever thought of sailing on a tall ship….out where the magic happens!


What a privilege to speak at the Jubilee Sailing Trust (JST) celebrations for the 30th anniversary of the maiden voyage of Lord Nelson – one of two tall ships run by the Trust and specifically designed for use by less able bodied people.

There were approximately 300 guests at The Grand Harbour Hotel and it was great to have my ocean boat, Lisa Too, on display immediately outside the main entrance to The Mayflower Suite where the dinner was held.

She prompted a lot of interest even amongst so many seasoned sailors, with a good number of transatlantic sailors in amongst the attendees too; the general view seemed to be one of ‘you must be mad rowing that, what is wrong with sails?!’ I agree, now!

The work of the charity is amazing and they are currently looking at other fund-raising opportunities to support them – and that is where we come in with Atlantic Experience and our ThamesRow. Next year we are planning to run a ThamesRow for JST which could include less able bodied crew, sponsors coming on board, a garden party along the way and even people following along the Thames path on foot or bike. There may even be a small flotilla of boats that join us along the way to help raise money and not least raise awareness for the great work of the charity.

On the night it was fantastic to meet so may passionate and driven people, all there pulling together to make something extra-ordinary happen. They ranged from the lady who worked in the engine room of Lord Nelson (yes, she does have to have an engine as well as sails), to the founder of the Charity, Jacquetta Cator; from volunteer Chrissie to ‘ordinary’ Pete, born with no legs and arms to the elbow – yet a three times paralympic Gold medal winner. What a great bloke, telling us amusing and inspirational stories from being shaved down by the girls in the team to streamline his body to the Korean journalist asking how exactly did he use his ears to swim with….!

It was a real pleasure and an honour to speak for the Trust, the them being taking on big challenges and delivering them one small step at a time and that the most important thing is that whilst we need the equipment to make things happen from Pete’s wheelchair, to Lord Nelson – it is the people that deliver it, ordinary people doing extra-ordinary things. Great work!

Click here to see more on the Jubilee Sailing Trust, including how you can go on board for a day sail or a multi day voyage….


Transferable skills – lessons from the Atlantic in ‘normal life’.

Looking forward to speaking at the Silverstone University Technical College this evening for Part 2 of The Atlantic Experience for the Silverstone Business Forum. Each part is standalone and audience members will take a lot away with them whether they have seen Part 1 or not. Part 2 looks at how we handle setbacks and can use failure as a foundation for future success.

At the end of the day if we are not willing to get out of our comfort zone and do something different to what we have always done then how can we grow. This can perhaps be seen more in older members of the population – people who in their own minds have become ‘expert’ at what they do or believe they are good enough and use the excuse of ‘I am too old to change’ so as to avoid that change.

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What are you looking for in a speaker – inspiration or motivation?

DSCF1850Some great insights  into hiring a ‘motivational’ speaker by Steve Gilliland – although from my perspective I’m more comfortable with the word ‘inspirational’ speaker – at the end of the day our challenge was about failure and not success – the key was turning that failure into a success. It is not always about ‘The Win’.

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Fear, excitement, change – be prepared, it’s coming for you!


I am speaking at the Cambridge launch of the HubSpot User Group – HubSpot is an inbound marketing and sales software that helps companies attract visitors, convert leads, and close customers – so it will be something that I will be using in due course! I was asked to write a blog for them ahead of the event in November with a theme around change and how quickly things can divert from expectation and the plan we had carefully formulated…..this is it below:

We join Ian’s story as they leave the African coast behind…

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Big ocean, big challenge – the Atlantic Odyssey where it all began

Our ocean challenge was billed as ‘The Atlantic Odyssey’. We were 6 men brought together after an intensive 9 months of sea trials; some people dropped out, others could pay their way but looked unlikely to be able to row their way – there was a conflict between who had the funds to join the crew and who had the ability, physical and mental.

In the end, the crew, or so we thought – was selected on physical and mental merit – the one big gap in our testing being that we never tested the physical capability of all of the team; physical fitness comes from a simple willingness to train and train again. To train when we don’t feel like it, to train because we have our team-mates to support, to back ourselves and not least to have our eyes on the prize.

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Silverstone UTC: extra-ordinary

carMy core belief is there are only ordinary people in the world and it’s ordinary people that do the ‘extra-ordinary’. That is what the word means and we can lose sight of that when we just say extraordinary, pronouncing it ‘extrordinary’. Today though I went to an ‘extra-ordinary’ place! Check out the website for the UTC based at the globally known Silverstone race circuit – the home of Formula 1 and a hive of activity in cutting edge engineering both in motorsport and the wider area. Also a hub for the events and entertainment industry – quite an incredible place with an absolutely buzzing atmosphere.

In the middle of it all is the unexpected – a school. It is genuinely ‘extra-ordinary’ – I had chance to speak to one or two of the students ahead of delivering the Atlantic Experience to the Silverstone Businesss Forum at the school. I asked the lad what it was like at the school and he said it was simply amazing – what other school could you go to and in your lunch break get to watch the McLaren Formula 1 cars blasting round the track?!

I was also looked after initially by a couple of members of staff at the school, Nicola was brilliant and came across as bursting with pride and enthusiasm for the school and the students. Add in Neil, the Business Manager who helped me set up on the IT front (I gathered one of the many, many jobs and skills he brings to bear in the school!) and you come away with a feeling that the place is not just an extra-ordinary place, so are the staff and from what I saw so are the students. Really exciting and inspiring.

As for the Atlantic Experience talk, a little bit of feedback here: ‘I really enjoyed your talk.  I left with an extra spring in my step after listening to you and will view the new day today with extra enthusiasm – so thank you for that!’

Lastly, from the school website: ‘Silverstone UTC, which opened in September 2013, is a brand new centre of excellence for young people wanting to break into the specialist fields of High Performance Engineering and Business & Technical Events Management. It is based in the very heart of British Motorsport, at the Silverstone racing grounds, in a stunning new multi-million pound facility.’

Click here to have a look at the school’s website and below are some pics from my evening – imagine being at school here? Extra-ordinary!