Wow. Here we are. 6 months until race start. 6 months until we are sat on that start line in La Gomera, ready to race the 3000 miles across the Atlantic Ocean to Antigua. The emotions are already starting to build, right across the spectrum from nerves to excitement, but most of all we are absolutely loving spending our weekends on Vaquita training on the ocean off the Dorset coast!
The last two months have been the biggest of learning curves! Every time we step on the boat we learn something new and refine our skills, and we are loving every second. We quickly settled into our 2 hour rowing shifts, while learning to live on the boat has thrown up some interesting challenges and a lot of laughs. Even moving around the boat takes practice and focus - designed to race, Vaquita is a twitchy boat and one step out of the centre line throws off her balance. Not to mention that she's only 1.5metres wide and we have two clipped points of contact to the boat each - shift changes started off as a confused bundle of limbs, oars and lines and has turned into something comparable only to the precise choreography of synchronised swimming (well, almost!).
Aside from settling into boat life, we;ve had some amazing experinces already. From swimming in Lulworth cove, to the impressive star filled night skies, we've even been lucky enough to see a comet! The night time certainly brings an element of calm and simplicity, with our focus just on navigation, rowing and sleeping, the night shifts almost seem a little easier than the day (with the exception of THAT monster of a shift where we were battling against the wind and tide each stroke just to keep above 1 knot so as not to risk the autohelm alarm going off and waking up the stern cabin girls!). The cruise ships are also a sight at night, sitting just beyond Weymouth bay and lit up like christmas trees against the black sky, it is really a special sight.
We've learnt that JP cannot handle the cold UK waters, staying in the water at Lulworth approximately 3.2seconds before leaping back onto the boat; that Jen has no sense of depth perception, getting nervous by boats 300metres away thinking they're about to hit us; that Erin absolutely loves singing along to a good belter and prefers to converse via song than talking (although she has quite the dislike for Emily's spotify playlists!); and that Emily is the queen of posh snacks "truffle cheese bites, anyone?", living up to her role as nutrition lead and keeping morale higher than high.
We've also learnt that some expedition ration packs are nicer than others (it's a no from me for the dehydrated spaghetti carbonara...) and we've settled onto the dreaded bucket bathroom much quicker than anticipated. The biggest topic we are asked about by far is The Bucket. And while we spent a few rows avoiding at all costs, we soon found ourselves with two buckets in use, facing each other and not even batting an eye lid! I think we'll be just fine after all!
Last weekend we got our crew logo and training branding on the boat - a huge milestone! We are so humbled to be supported by so many wonderful companies and people, who share our mission of sustainability, adventure and women in adventure sport. With so much preparation still to go in these last 6 months we know that we are only here with all of your support and for that, we are truly grateful.
It is time to ramp up our training, focus our intentions and fine tune our preparations. Here's to our mission, here's to all of you, and here's to achieveing great things. Let's do this!