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2016-12-14T11:00:00+0000
December 14th, 2016

After more than 5 weeks at sea, Pure Four Atlantic Lions have reached their biggest milestone to date – less than 1000 miles to go. The boys have got a great update for us, including the various ways in which they’ve lightened the boat (to increase speed) and a list of ailments that you can read about at your own risk!

MERLIN’S BEARD! Sorry, we meant Callum’s beard, (Pure Solo Waterbabies Row) seems to be developing at an unstoppable rate. Concerns are growing that it may surpass Harry Potter’s Hagrid if this continues! Beard milestones aside, Callum has now reached the halfway point, and is making great progress to Antigua. He’s received some amazing support from family and friends on Twitter, which has really helped motivate him during some of the difficult moments.

Happy Australia Day, to Shane of Pure Pair Team Hesco! With only 500NM left, give Shane and Theo a G’Day by continuing to send your best wishes of support over on their Facebook page.

Caitlin and George of Concept Pair The Cranial Quest got a nice surprise this morning when they had their first encounter with a non race-related vessel: “Just got passed by a sailboat from France! They were very friendly and asked if we needed food or water.” The pair were very excited!

Atlantic Castaways are starting to encounter “traffic” on the ocean now, having seen a yacht yesterday and a cargo ship that was approaching them from behind – luckily not on a collision course. They’re getting close!

Two’s company, so they say. Here’s the latest from everyone in the pairs category:

Oarsome Buoys were greeted by a 10 metre whale at the end of their oar yesterday which gave them a bit of a fright! They were, however, amazed at such a beautiful creature who then decided it would be fun to play with the bow of the boat. It’s incredible moments like these that make the difficult times more bearable for the teams. Great to hear!

Atlantic Buoys were happy to hear the news of solo rower Steve Murphy, receiving help from experienced ocean rower Leven Brown to get him to the finish line: “What a legend Leven Brown is! The buoys were very pleased to hear this news that Steve will still achieve his dream. No matter who your crew are, how many are in your crew, what your story, each crew have their dream, their drive to do this amazing challenge and each and every crew will hopefully get to the end now”.

Atlantic Castaways gave us a great update a few days ago on their Facebook page. You can click the link to read the full story, but spirits are high on Blue Steel (unless you get a less than  desirable selection of meals to eat for the day – Sorry Freddie!)

Atlantic Drifters have gone a little quiet on us. We found out over the weekend that they have lost communications and so they’re unable to give their followers any updates. However, we know they’re safe and well, and pushing on to Antigua, so please send your words of encouragement to them over on their Facebook and Twitter pages.

Dan and Olly of Atlantic Challenge have a powerful and in-depth blog post from Dan, that provides a real sense of their thinking and motivation. You can read the whole post here.

Coventry Five-O have been playing “fantasy food”. Here’s what’s at the top of the league: “Lamb sagwali bhuna, pilau rice and 3 chapatis please.” Whatever helps you to row quicker, guys!

The Cranial Quest are hoping to reach a very motivating milestone today, less than 1000 miles to go! You can keep up with their progress on their Facebook page.

Rowing 4 Rascals Duncan and Andy are doing much better now, and have reached they first major milestone of 1000 miles! You can get the latest from them from this satellite conversation with their family back home.

Team Beyond have managed a full update on Facebook, covering all subjects from bottom hygiene, the cost of oil prices and Pink Floyd!

Shane and Theo of Team Hesco have also hit the 1000 mile mark! Although poor Theo is suffering from chafing, and the sun is making the inside of the cabin more and more unbearably humid, they’re in good spirits and very much looking forward to picking up the pace to Antigua. Read the full blog update here.

Thrift Energy rowers Sean and Andy covered good ground again yesterday, and are excited to see the forerunners of the race with less than 200 miles to finish.

Finally, Square One Atlantic have been updating their Facebook page with some hilarious stories of naked pilates, geordie accents and balaclava tans!

It’s great to hear that the pairs are doing so well, and remain focused and determined to reach Antigua. See you all soon!

There’s been a few ‘cheeky’ photos emerging on social media of the teams, ahem, butt naked.

While this provides us with some entertainment, there are several legitimate reasons why rowing the Atlantic in the nude is an essential part of the journey.

1) Fewer wet clothes

Drying off on a rowing boat, when surrounded only by the ocean for several hundred miles, can prove difficult. Even if the waters are calm, the teams are constantly exposed to the elements and if it’s not what’s underneath them that’s providing continual moisture, the tropical heavens might open to drench everything from above. Yorkshire Rows updated their Facebook status just last night, liking their naked appearances to that of a nudist camp!

2) Wet clothes = chafing

We’ve all experienced some form of chafing in our lives – wet shoes, swimwear etc. And we know of the discomfort just a few minutes or hours exposure to this irritating skin condition can cause. So imagine this, 24 hours a day, for up to 3 months. Sounds pretty grim, right? This is what our rowers are up against daily. To make matters worse, several of the teams, including Thrift Energy, have reported a wave crashing over them unexpectedly just as the hatch to the cabin is open, saturating everything inside. This means more damp conditions and more chafing!

3) Chafing = sore bums

The continued rubbing caused by the seat and clothing, in addition to the salty water which constantly crashes over them, causes fungal infections, blisters and sores that sometimes make it incredibly painful just to sit down.

Preparation for these conditions is pivotal to the success of the teams. Back in October, Atlantic Castaways spent the night making their seats.

“We will get very bad pressure sores and salt burn on our bums. Therefore we have created padding out of camping roll mats which are then stuck together so that if we get a pressure sore we can cut out of our seat where that part is to take the pressure off. Then once the seat is destroyed we can flip it over and do the same again. We will be taking a few of these beauties with us all for the price of £9 each!”

Other naked rowers include RowLikeAGirl and Row2RecoveryClick the links to reveal all!

Rowing naked helps to relieve some of these issues, making it more comfortable for the rowers to get on with their daily tasks. The only discomfort here is perhaps a slight increase in embarrassment and loss of dignity! But we’re certain that living in such close proximity for a long period of time eliminates that.

Great news! After a couple of rough weather days, with the entire fleet putting down their para-anchors and taking shelter in their cosy cabins, some of the teams have been able to start rowing again today.

Theo Jones of Team Hesco wishes to thank everybody who has shown support on their Facebook and Twitter profiles over the last few days. They’re safe and well, and back en route to Antigua! As are Ocean Reunion, Oarsome Buoys, Atlantic Challenge, Atlantic Drifters, All Beans No Monkeys, Atlantic Castaways, Team Beyond, Row2Recovery and Cranial Quest.

Thrift Energy’s Sean has described the weather as being on a “biblical scale”. The guys have been asking for updates on the leading team Ocean Reunion, with the hope that the weather must be clearing if they start rowing again. Well, as we’ve already announced, they are indeed on the move, so go forth, Thrift energy!

If you’re wondering where Latitude 35 have got to, they currently have a limited power supply as one of their two solar panels isn’t functioning properly, therefore they’re utilising what power they have for essentials such as the water-maker, AIS and satellite phone. We do know that they waited as long as they could, before dropping their para-anchor on 12th January, and the moment the weather gets better, it’s on to Antigua for them too. Hopefully we’ll hear more from them again soon.

All Beans No Monkeys reminded us that there’s some comfort, however, to be taken in the rough days, and that’s the memories you forge that you’ll home take with you forever:

“We just want to leave you with a memory from last night, just before the storm hit. We decided to put out the Para Anchor just before the light faded and before the storm hit. We then settled into our cabin, heated up some coffee we had been given as a Christmas gift and cracked open our emergency supply of Haribo. It was the literal meaning of ‘The Calm Before The Storm’ and is something we will definitely remember forever”. It’s the seemingly insignificant moments that we take for granted at home that make the big difference when you’re drifting in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean.

For those of you concerned about the current weather conditions, we have a detailed forecast for you that should help put you (and our rowers too!) at ease: A low pressure system is tracking W to E and it has hit the fleet. The boats in the north are nearer the centre of the system and will get worse winds. Today has seen the strongest of the winds – around 30 knots going through the fleet.  The anticlockwise rotation means that crews will get N, NW, W, SW and S winds during the time it takes the system to pass. Imagine the winds spiralling anticlockwise whilst moving W to E and if you are in a boat at the bottom part of that rotation you will be able to picture the impact of the wind as it changes direction.

By Wednesday evening the crews will still be headed by significant winds but much less than Tuesday. By Thursday, winds decrease further with conditions better in the South. By late Friday all crews will start to get winds from the NE.

Although some of this might sound scary, our crews are trained to cope in difficult weather conditions. There’s not much to do other than to drop the parachute anchor and sit it out. Notice that the race tracker shows the boats facing the wrong way? This is due to the dropped anchor, which most of the crews have now done. The upside to the storm is that the teams get a break from rowing, and are taking the time out to update their blogs and social media pages. Every cloud eh?

Atlantic Castaways tweeted: “Wind 25 kn. 24 hrs enforced captivity in sweltering cabin. Playing Uno. #twac2015 #cosy” Um, sounds like fun?!

RowLikeAGirl are requesting your messages to keep the morale going while they wait patiently in their cabin. How have RLAG inspired you? What impact has this adventure had on you or someone you know? Maybe you just want to get them an update? Get involved and send them your messages of support or questions here.

Last to deploy their anchor was Row2Recovery, after attempting to out chase the storm, pushing as far South as they could to find the safest spot. They welcome the rest after 23 days of none-stop rowing, but are looking forward to finishing the remaining 1351 NM to Antigua. More on that here.

Hooray for Atlantic Drifters – they FINALLY saw some wildlife! And we’re not just talking about a couple of MahiMahi. The pair were stalked by a whale at least 3 times the size of the boat! Be careful what you wish for, boys…

Atlantic Challenge have written an epic blog post, just a day or so before they dropped anchor, citing the differing views of Olly and Dan on the night of their capsize. It’s a gripping read! You can check that out here.

We are in constant contact with each of the teams on a daily basis, so we’ll continue to bring you all of the updates as and when we receive them.

Our fleet are about to enter week 4 of their journey across the Atlantic, and apart from sore bums, a brief encounter with a shark and a few technical hitches.

Atlantic Buoys have checked in with family and friends, with Hamish reporting that “at night the compass has in fact been turning in to a bleeding skull”…ah, that’ll be the sleep deprivation! Aside from a few hallucinations the team are prepared for the predicted bad weather, and feel safe with their old boat and old heads. Read more on that here.

It sounds as though Atlantic Castaways have been having a whale of a time, spotting a pod of Orcas (killer whales) just 20m or so from their boat! Despite a quick scrabble for the GoPro the whales sadly missed their 15 minutes of fame, but we’re sure it’ll be a sight Freddie and Jack won’t forget in a hurry. The guys are now over the halfway mark, and they’re hoping to hold or improve their position (currently 6th in pairs and 8th in all boats) once the wind turns back in their favour. Finally, Jack made a call home today. His family were concerned it would be storm-related, but he actually wanted to remind them to book Coldplay tickets. Good to hear he has his priorities in check! There’s plenty more from Freddie and Jack on their latest Facebook post.

Thrift Energy continue to be blessed with wildlife appearances, uploading two brilliant photos of a pod of dolphins and more marlin yesterday! (Sorry, Atlantic Drifters).

As the 2015/16 race continues to attract media attention, more celebrity support has been rolling in. Presenter, writer and broadcaster Clare Balding from BBC Radio 2’s Good Morning Sunday gave her well wishes to RowLikeAGirl, saying:

“weather permitting, they are well on their way to breaking two world records: the youngest team and the fastest to ever row the Atlantic…we send them our very warmest congratulations for what they’ve done so far and best wishes as they continue on.”

Thank you Clare! You can catch that here, 17 minutes in.

Lots for the update today! We’ll start with the impending shift in the weather…

A significant change is occurring with a large low pressure forming and tracking S and then E. This is not good news for the fleet as most will get headwinds at some time during 09 -14 Jan, some of which will be in excess of 20 knots. The whole fleet has been warned and options discussed but it will mean para-anchor and an unpleasant few days. The boats are designed for the worst conditions but it will be uncomfortable and the rowers may suffer bruising as they are confined to cabins. But like anything, the storm will pass and the weather then looks to give favourable winds to help the crews on their way. You can track the weather here at windyty.

Despite the forthcoming storm, there’s been positive news from some of the teams. Yorkshire Rows, Atlantic Drifters, Cranial Quest, Coventry Five-0, Team Thrift Energy, Atlantic Lions and All Beans No Monkeys have all spoken to the Duty Officer’s today to let them know that all is good and most issues seem to be improved, and in some cases, resolved altogether. Brilliant!

We also have an update from Oarsome Buoys, (4th in all boats) thanks to Shaun’s Mum: ‘ Speaking to Shaun on the sat phone, the Buoys have worked hard to get to the front of the Pure Pairs class and are buzzing with excitement! The best bit so far – being first in class! The worst bit so far – losing an oar! Whilst surfing a wave, Sic Parvis Magna was hit on the after starboard quarter by a huge wave. The power of the wave was so great that Ryan’s oars got caught, snapping the gate and the oar was gone. A replacement gate later and a new oar and they are back on track!’

Atlantic Castaways (7th in all boats) have also managed a blog post, and their enthusiasm, passion and drive for this adventure is infectious! They reported that “Despite the heat and sore claws, we are having an unbelievable experience. We have seen a lot of wildlife (marlin, sharks, turtles and dolphins etc.) but our absolute highlight was when a pod of dolphins escorted us out of a storm, performed a ‘good-bye’ routine and then swam back in! It really was an incredible sight, not to mention a very welcome one”. We couldn’t be happier for the boys!

By the way, some of you may have noticed that the speed listed for each boat on the mobile tracking app, is different to the speed listed if viewing the tracker on a computer. We have a simple explanation for this inconsistency! The app version of the tracker updates as soon as the tracking beacons ‘ping’. This instantly updates the speed. However, due to the extra processing it takes through a computer, the speed is taken on an average over the last 2/3 ‘pings’, so it tends to be lower. So there you have it!