Atlantic Challenge Quiz Night, Friday 22nd September, London

Greetings to all of our wonderful friends and supporters.

Our next social event is a quiz night at the historic Doggett’s Coat and Badge pub overlooking the Thames in the South Bank, London. We would love you to join us on Friday 22nd September for a night of riveting entertainment (there will be almost no questions about rowing) hosted by none other than our very own Rob Coleman!

Rob Coleman (comic, writer and ocean rower)

We welcome teams of up to six or individuals who would like to join a team – all will be found a friendly group.

Tickets are just £3 per person (or £5 including a donation to our charities). Please confirm your team name and number of people in advance by emailing Toby or letting us know on our Facebook page. We’ll send you our bank details by return for ticket payment, or for those off the grid we can arrange payment on the night.

Doggett’s is a fitting venue, taking it’s name from Thomas Doggett, the organiser of an amateur London Bridge to Chelsea rowing race on the Thames. As a pub it has everything you might expect – famous for its range of real ales and quality pub food – available to order to your table before or during the quiz.

You can arrive anytime (they open at 9am!) or join us in the ‘Thomas Doggett’s Bar’ from 6pm. We will start the quiz as soon as everyone is sitting comfortably – aiming for 7pm.

Doggett’s

We look forward to welcoming you on the night. If you’d like to whet your appetite, the recently released promo for this year’s race is linked below.

 

 

Tablers to row the Atlantic for mental health

 

HTaR 24hr training session, April 2017, Isle of Wight

We’ve had some fantastic support for our Atlantic row from the Round Table, with the fine gentlemen of the Billericay Round Table amongst our core sponsorship partners to date. Through our engagement with them Jeremy and I were sold on the concept – ‘having fun with a great bunch of mates and trying something new, whilst also supporting thousands of local charities and individuals making an enormous difference to millions of lives every year’.

So much so that we’ve become members and will be looking to get a lot more involved after the small matter of raising funding, preparing for, and taking part in the world’s toughest row across the Atlantic in December!

You can read more about our Atlantic row and our journey with Round Table on their website here.

 

12 brave crews embark on the expedition of a life time

Ali and I spent a few days in La Gomera for the start of the 2016 Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge this week. Our mission – to learn what we could from the start of the 2016 race in preparation for our turn on 12 December 2017. This blog captures a few of the things we learnt.

First a word on the island that will be our home for two weeks of pre-race scrutineering and final preparation. Most crews don’t venture further than the small harbour town of San Sebastian. They are here for one reason only with a singular focus on preparations for their race. We however, had a bit more leisure time to explore. La Gomera is a volcanic island, typically Spanish despite being 1,000 miles from the mainland. It is brown and green, 14 miles wide, one mile high, and in the words of Douglas Adam’s is ‘mostly harmless’. Its charm lies in the fact that the one hour ferry from Tenerife is enough to put off the vast majority of tourists. Furthermore, no bugger, barring a few skirmishes, has bothered to mess with it since 1489 when the inhabitants faced defeat at the hands of the Spaniards.

It is the perfect place to unwind – ideal for the 12 crews in their final days of mental grounding for the daunting 1-1challenge ahead – 3,000 miles of ocean until they next reach sanctuary in English Harbour, a safe haven frequented by the British since the 17th century.  When the crews left the sun-drenched serenity of La Gomera this morning they were on their own at the mercy of the Atlantic Ocean, some for 90 days or more if mother nature is unforgiving.

The crews departed in five minute intervals, turning their backs on the comfort, security and space afforded by their temporary island home. Watching this highly emotive spectacle got me thinking.  As much as I love my crew mates, thinking about two months at sea with Ali, Jez and Justin in a space not quite big enough for us all to lay down at the same time (and that’s before you subtract the space for three buckets that we will share to meet all our bucket related needs), I find myself apprehensive about how I’ll cope. It was also the first time a glimmer of justification for attempting a solo ocean row had ever crossed my mind – thankfully it passed swiftly out the other side – something for a future life time perhaps.

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The start of the race was everything it should be. Subdued excitement. The crews were visibly itching to get going as they waited on their boats inside the harbour wall, poised to take that first stroke… Hordes of well-wishers were brimming with excitement manifested in the form of cheering, flag waving and mortar-esque fireworks.

Family and close friends appeared more reserved. I’m told some families come out to La Gomera for the final few days then leave before the actual day of departure, not wanting to witness the visual spectacle of their loved ones rowing out to sea knowing there is a chance they may never return.

greydepart-flags

Meanwhile the Atlantic Campaigns’ team were working away in the background making sure the crews were in the best possible state of readiness. I’m certain that safety is their top priority and the final handshake with each crew member before they left the marina struck me as particularly meaningful – ‘this is it, the stage is set, you are ready – safe passage.’

Then, one by one, finalthey rowed out of the harbour and disappeared over the horizon. I’m very much looking forward to the feeling of leaving all the commotion and emotion behind and settling into the row – everything else will be out of sight, out of mind, and the only thing left will be row, eat, sleep, repeat.

So, what did I learn? I have a lot to do before I’ll be ready. Departure day is a milestone to look forward to, but it will be difficult to let go – of the side of the marina pontoon, and of loved ones. I owe it to myself and to them to give me the best possible chance of making it to the other side. The boat and equipment will be 100% shipshape – that’s a given. I need to spend a fair amount of time in 2017 learning to be comfortable with myself and with Ali, Jez and Justin in confined spaces. I also need to prepare myself physically. Of course, I’ll be doing a massive amount of rowing training. But while swimming training in the waters of the Canary Islands, I concluded that I also want to be able to swim away from sharks faster than any of my crew mates!

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