For those of you who know me, you’ll be familiar with the fact that I’m pretty determined. And that when I get an idea in my head it will quickly become a matter of how and when.
It was in December 2019 that the idea of rowing across the Atlantic became a fixation for me. Almost two years and an outrageous amount of planning later, I find myself just 1 month away from embarking on that dream.
From that point on I began trawling the internet to find out as much as I could about ocean rowing. I also decided that I should probably start with one of the bigger first steps – learning to row. So, I signed up to a course on the River Thames to get my first taste.
After exhausting my list of potential crewmates (I can’t say that I had many friends interested in joining me for some reason) I eventually stumbled across an internet advert posted by Jen looking for a crew – what luck!
Three months after connecting with Jen (and now in the middle of a global pandemic) we were joined by JP and Erin to complete our crew. From that moment on, all four of us have been living a whirlwind of preparation, planning, training and fundraising – all on top of our full-time jobs.
Teamwork started with getting to know each other – mostly via Zoom but meeting up whenever we could – setting our team goals and planning for the year ahead.
In January 2021 we launched our Crowdfunder, starting the efforts to raise money and buy our eco boat. Fundraising included a 24 hour indoor row, online events, competitions and getting our first big partners onboard.
By March, we had raised enough money to buy our eco-boat, and as soon as we could (following a second lockdown) we got out onto the water at our new training ground in Weymouth.
And so began six months of weekend rowing, ocean safety training courses and learning everything we could about life at sea.
We spent October preparing and packing our boat so she’d be ready for her solo voyage across the sea to the start line in the Canaries. 40 rolls of toilet paper, food for 53 days at sea (a whopping 4,000 calories per person per day!) and all the equipment we need to maintain and repair the boat on our voyage had to be loaded onboard.
Since Vaquita left for La Gomera we’ve had a small reprieve from preparations. Alongside our physical training, we’ve started to prepare mentally for the challenge through a series of sport psychology sessions to ensure we make the most of our collective strengths and bring our A game to this 40 day race.
Time out has also given me the chance to reflect on how far we’ve come as a team.
From starting out, three of us had never rowed before and none of us knew where to begin launching an ocean rowing boat, let alone rowing it amidst big waves! Now we’ve spent over 200 hours at sea and know how to take apart and fix every part of our eco-boat.
I feel immensely proud of all we’ve achieved in a relatively short space of time. Now I cannot wait to be on that start line with nothing ahead of us but the ocean and Antigua a distant glimmer somewhere over the horizon.
We’ve given everything that we have to prepare for this challenge, and I know that we’re willing to give it all again to reach the finish line.
Film: Vaquita getting race ready!