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

On the eve of the Atlantic Lions arrival, the foursome have expressed the most prominent emotion they’re all feeling reflecting on their 50 days at sea – gratitude. With thanks to their partners and families, friends and supporters, they remind us that without them they simply could not have done this. And to Dave’s Uncle Gary, who’s untimely passing was the catalyst for embarking on the Atlantic Challenge in the first place. Read more from skipper Dave here – *warning* – it’s a tear jerker!

Square One Atlantic had this equally emotional message, to help spur on not only themselves, but everybody else in the race: “Whether you come 1st or 26th you are a hero. You have done something not many in this world would ever dare to do, or ever will do. You have pushed yourself to the mental and physical limit and come out the other side. You have conquered the unforgiving and relentless Atlantic Ocean all while rowing all day every day for more than 30 days.”

The imminent arrival of Team Wadadli this week marks an historic event for the island of Antigua, the teams native land. The precedent being set is something unique to the region, and the people of the Caribbean are buzzing about it. Eli Fuller is in charge of the team’s blog, and wrote this heartfelt message about their achievement “The great adventurers and explorers we have read about and seen on the TV almost always come from far off places, “worlds” away from our cricket fields and palm fringed shorelines. These adventures are the thing of dreams and stories for many of us here in the Caribbean. Until now!”

Yorkshire Rows are progressing nicely, and are in good spirits, with just over 700NM left to go! Here’s the latest from them on Facebook.

The Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge continues, with another week of arrivals ahead! Foursome-turned-pair Latitude 35 followed by Atlantic Lions will be in Nelson’s Dockyard tomorrow. Don’t miss out, follow us on Twitter to get real-time updates and photos of the teams.

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!

In case you missed it, here’s a pick of some of the news across the fleet during their fourth week at sea.

“WHOAAAA! WE’RE HALFWAY THERE!” The Cranial Quest celebrate this milestone, Bon Jovi style…

Row2Recovery received a very Royal phone call yesterday, from none other than Prince Harry himself! This did wonders to motivate the team, who are all amputees and arguably facing the toughest conditions in the race. Find out more about that and other famous supporters from yesterday’s blog post.

RowLikeAGirl have had a testing week, as technology has worked against them! In other news, the girls have now listened to Justin Timberlake enough times to really hear the words. And they’re not too happy about them! Have a look at what they’ve been up to over on their Facebook page.

Atlantic Lions estimate that they should arrive in Antigua around 7th February! They’re currently rowing at 2.7 knots, in 35 degree heat and with 1100 miles left to go.

A very sun-bleached Callum of Waterbabies Row got a surprise yesterday, when he received a radio call from the Talisker support yacht, just metres away from him! His selfie shows his appreciation at seeing other humans for the first time in a month.

Square One Atlantic have now reached their halfway point. They were also finally blessed with a sighting of wildlife following a heavy downpour. A pod of 6 dolphins!

Atlantic Buoys share a similar dream to the other rowers – some decent food and sleep in a bed!

Team Wadadli have been slowed down slightly by the descent of light winds. They hope that cleaning the barnacles off the boat today will help speed them along a bit. However the boys are seeing the challenge as a life event, with “beautiful sunsets, stars, satellites, shooting stars, sunrises, wildlife and general adventure” more important than the competitive element.

Rowing 4 Rascals managed a blog post yesterday, and explained that the first 10 days were not as productive as they’d hoped, as sea sickness preventing them from eating anything during that team, making attempts on the oars rather feeble. They are feeling disheartened at knowing their finish position won’t be as strong as they wanted, but know that the race is an incredible challenge and that they’ll feel they’ve still achieved something amazing. Check out their Q&A blog post here.

Thrift Energy got another radio appearance on BBC Newcastle, where they recounted a terrifying moment with a cargo ship! Skip to 12 minutes in to hear the full story.

For more updates from sea, watch our latest video, with satellite phone calls and unseen footage of the teams.

Row2Recovery received a surprise call today, from none other than Prince Harry! He congratulated them on their incredible effort so far and wished them luck for the rest of their journey.

It was only a few weeks ago that Hollywood actor Tom Hardy, a fan of the Royal Marines, made a Facebook video in which he referred to Row2Recovery as “hoofing individuals” (translated as amazing!)

Support and encouragement from people of all walks of life motivate the teams immensely, but it’s incredibly exciting for them when they get support from famous faces.

Other teams who’ve received high profile support include Atlantic Lions, after Richard Branson tweeted a Happy Birthday message to Dave a few weeks ago.

RowLikeAGirl had a special mention on sports personality Clare Balding’s Radio 2 show Good Morning Sunday, with Clare championing the girls for their attempt at a world record – to become the youngest female four to complete the Atlantic Challenge.

Astronaut Tim Peake even managed a tweet from space to wish Atlantic Drifters well over the New Year. As another person who faces adversity in the name of achievement, Tim Peake is an influence to the team, so to receive word from him was a fantastic boost for the pair.

Olympic medallist Dame Kelly Holmes showed her support for All Beans No Monkeys with a Facebook video, wishing them well on their continued journey across the Atlantic.

We’ll look forward to seeing more words of encouragement, famous or none, for all of the teams as the remainder of the race awaits them. After more than 4 weeks at sea, the teams are well and truly in to the swing of things, but the coming weeks will still feel tough, as the hunger to reach Antigua becomes ever more desirable.

Firstly, the thrills. And boy do we have a jaw-some story from Team Beyond, who had a frightening encounter with a 7 foot shark! It seems the predator had taken an interest in their bright orange rudder. Daley was able to distract the shark, although he continued to zig zag under their boat for a few seconds, before disappearing as quickly as he’d appeared. The pair also reported several Dorado’s following their boat a while later, and suspect they may have barnacles on their boat which is attracting the wildlife. Barnacles need to be cleaned off regularly as they can slow the boat. Unfortunately for Philip, it’s his turn to perform this chore! Luckily he has an ace up his sleeve for keeping the sharks at bay. Read more on that here.

Solo rower Callum from Persil Atlantic Waterbabies has managed to take time out from rowing and fixing the hole in his boat to sum up his last week or so. His near-miss with a very large cargo ship makes for a thrilling read! Callum is currently 4th out of the solo rowers, and 19th in all boats. He is progressing very well with almost 1000 NM now behind him, and knowing that it would now take longer to row back to La Gomera than it would be to get to Antigua (due to the wind direction) is motivating him. Read more about his highlights, unexpected events and emotions here.

And here are the swills. Did you know that regular soap doesn’t lather in salt water? You have to use a special salt water soap to wash your hair and body. Luckily, Caitlin and George of The Cranial Quest were given a generous donation from “Sailor Soap”, which can also be used to clean dishes. Packing for up to 3 months on a small boat holding two people means limited supplies, so anything that helps in multi-tasking is a winner for our fleet. Read more on the importance of cleaning habits on The Cranial Quest Facebook page.

Atlantic Lions have experienced rain for the first time in several days, and are describing the conditions simply as “wet”. They do however welcome the rain as it provides them with the opportunity have “the most natural and wild shower imaginable”, and the rains bring with them some unbelievable rainbows.

A bit more on the weather front today: The weather turns on 9th Jan with some elements of S winds building. This continues through 10th Jan until lead crews will get W elements on 11th Jan. By 12th Jan the fleet will all get W and S winds, some in excess of 20 knots.

All Beans No Monkeys were in for a nice surprise this morning when they woke up to a video from non other than Dame Kelly Holmes, wishing them well on their continued journey through the Atlantic. Here’s the full video. We’re sure that the monkeys are feeling much more motivated after seeing this!

Coventry Five-O are amusing themselves through their journey, by sharing as many water/sea/rowing-related records as possible on their Facebook page! Have they missed any?

It’s sore bums for the Atlantic Lions – in fact, the same can be said for all of the teams now, as they progress through their journey, subject to salt water on a daily basis. So plenty of alcohol rub is being dispensed to help reduce chafing. But despite this and a few issues with power, the boys remain in good spirits, heading slightly more South than West as the low pressure sweeps in from the North West.

After a few ups and downs, Square One Atlantic’s family have updated their Facebook page and are pleased to hear more positivity in their voices. There’s one growing concern for Sean though…his football team Newcastle United are on a continuous losing streak. His family face this dilemma: either not update him on the scores…or lie. Suggestions welcome here!

Finally, Team Wadadli make it all sound so easy! Yesterday they caught another Mahi-Mahi so they were able to enjoy another delicious fish soup. They even took some time out from the relentless rowing and cleaned the cabins, then went for a refreshing swim. All this whilst still holding a steady 11th position! We’re sure this is all much more leisurely than it sounds…

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!