Blog 4-Race Day
“You are always stronger than you think. Don’t ever give up and remember things worth achieving are always worth the fight”
- Meredith Edwards-ultra marathon runner and ski mountaineer
Some of you may have noticed, and be wondering why, Sam is currently sunning himself in La Gomera. Is he 365 days to early for the start of Men of Oar’s Atlantic Race?
Sam is in the Canaries to pick up a few top tips from the 75 souls who are about to set off, in 28 boats, on one of the greatest endurance challenges on Earth, The Talisker Whiskey Atlantic Challenge 2017. For those of you not constantly refreshing Facebook in anticipation of my next Blog, they may have already left!
These 75 souls will spend the next 40 plus days rowing a 25ft long boat, laden with all their provisions, for 24 hours a day, in order to cross the Atlantic under their own power.
Race rules state that any external assistance during the race will result in disqualification. So the last few days will have been spent ensuring their boats are prepared and packed with absolutely everything they need for the voyage. Along with ensuring that all their licenses, qualifying courses and paperwork are in order. All of these preparations will have been conducted under the watchful eye of the Atlantic Campaigns team.
Atlantic Campaigns are the organisation who run the race. They have seven ocean rowing world records between them and will only accept the highest of standards. The Atlantic Campaigns team have the final say and, with a flick of the pen, can stop a team from competing. Naturally these inspections will be stressful for the crews, as 18 to 24 months of preparation hang in the balance but they are done with the best of intentions. It is only with good preparation that it is possible to complete such a challenge, and to do it safely. This external scrutiny is painful, but necessary.
These checks will include the array of GPS and radar beacons fitted to each boat. The primary purpose of this equipment is to ensure the safety of competitors and prevent collisions with large ocean vessels that may not be able to physically see the tiny rowing boat. This equipment allows each boat to be tracked for the entire voyage which means anyone can follow the race via the tracker on the event website:
The website also lists all the teams taking part in this year’s event. You will find the Men of Oar tab in the 2018 section.
With only a few hours to go rowers and spectators will be able to feel the palpable excitement in the air, the kind only to be found when so many have set their minds upon a single goal. One can only imagine the cocktail of emotions currently being felt in the harbour. Exhausted by preparations but thankful the plan has come together and thankful to all the sponsors and loved ones who have helped them thus far, there is still now everything to do.
Fear will undoubtedly be playing on the crews minds. Although inherently aware of the risks of ocean rowing I suspect fear of failure will be their real concern, anxious they have not done enough preparation or forgotten some crucial piece of equipment. But also distracted by the thoughts of the family they are leaving behind, family who will undoubtedly be more worried than the rowers themselves. Some will be embracing these feelings others putting them as far from their minds as possible.
All will be searching for the motivation that has driven them this far, be that raising money for a cause close to their heart, the wish to set a record or just the opportunity to set out on an adventure. I hope each of them they find the feelings of accomplishment, the heightening of emotions and the enrichment of life they are looking for.
What is there left to say? In the finest nautical tradition I wish them all clear horizons, fair winds and followings seas.
Godspeed to the rowers of 2017.
MEN OF OAR
The Men of Oar Blog has been written to keep you, our supporters, up to speed with our progress through our challenge and inform you about some of the more complex aspects of Ocean Rowing. Although it is based on true events, the blog is written to entertain. We hope you enjoy-if so please share!