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2016-12-14T16:53:00+0000
December 14th, 2016

The weekend weather sees the wind fluctuate from ENE to E then SE and back to E until 29th Feb. From there it’s is an E wind turning SE which then drops and turns ENE.  The general direction is fairly constant throughout although crews will find that even in the course of a single day they will be pushed N then S then back N slightly as they make W.

The world was thrilled to see Yorkshire Rows arrive in Antigua yesterday! Read all about their incredible tale and entry in to the Guinness World Records in yesterday’s blog, or join us on Twitter to congratulate them.

Thrift Energy have less than 160NM left, and it’s looking like an exciting finish as Coventry Five-O are on their tails!

Coventry Five-O have been a fantastic sport throughout the race. With the oldest and heaviest boat in the competition, they’ve remained so positive with every stroke of the oar – even though they did run out of their chocolate bars at the end of January…We expect them early next week!

Rowing For Rascals Duncan has defied the odds and ploughed through a difficult stretch of water and entered a new milestone of less than 300NM to go! His sheer determination has been an inspiration, and previous rowing partner Andy looks forward to reuniting with his friend in Antigua next week.

Finally, Steve Murphy and rowing partner Leven Brown, of Atlantic Endurance are making great progress at 2.3 knots, with 46NM rowed in the last 24 hours and just over 400NM left to row.

Firstly, a bit about the latest weather conditions: The main issues are wind and currents, which are slowing crews and pushing some N. The forecasts indicate the winds shifting around to come from the E and ENE within the next 24 hours and staying favourable until the last boat is in.

The current is far more vague and less predictable. There is a strong current that runs S to N between 300 and 400NM out of Antigua. It fluctuates in location, width and strength and therefore no definitive prediction of when crews will escape it can be given.

In case you were wondering where we get our incredibly accurate weather and updates – a Duty Officer is available around the clock to alert the boats to any sudden weather changes, organise any support yachts when they’re required, and even have a chat to them when they’re feeling a bit fed up. Sometimes, their words of support can mean the difference between a quitting or carrying on. Here’s a great example from them just yesterday:

“The best and only solution is to keep working, be stoic and chip away at the miles. The finish is achievable for everyone out there. Every crew has it in them to succeed but now more than ever is the time to dig deep, realise what their potential is and embrace the experience even through the exhaustion and discomfort. This is a challenge, perhaps the greatest adventure challenge there is, and success depends on people pushing through the times when others may quit. No time on the row has positive support been more important. This is more important than time and deadlines – it is life changing and your support can make a huge difference.”

The success and safety of the teams depends on this fantastic support – so we’d like to send a thank you to our incredible team of Duty Officers!

And it’s on to the latest from our rowers. Rowing For Rascals pair-turned-solo Duncan continues to make the journey to Antigua after some personal news and sickness caused Andy to make the difficult decision to pull out of the race. But this hasn’t dampened the spirits of their devoted supporters, who have started their own hash tag – #rowingforrascalsinspiredme – and asked people to print it and upload their selfies/pictures/comments to say how the pair have inspired them. You can join in on that here. Duncan now has less than 400NM to go, so watch this space!

Coventry Five-O have hit the 300NM mark, with no signs of slowing. Adrian, Martin – we’ll see you in Antigua very soon, well done!

Thrift Energy need your help! With only 400NM to go, but those pesky winds pushing them North and preventing much progress the boys are in need of some motivation. Why not send them a good luck message to get their spirits up? You can do that by emailing here and we shall pass on your words of support. Just as our Duty Officer’s have said, motivation at such a late stage in the race is invaluable to the rowers, and your messages mean the world to them. Show them some love!

Yorkshire Rows Skipper Janette outlined the performance of teamwork in her recent Facebook post. Just as support from the outside world is welcomed, knowing you have the support of your teammates makes the adventure so much more special. Read Janette’s emotionally charged post here – tissues at the ready!

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!

As the storm passes, an abundance of wildlife has emerged from the ocean to greet our crews from their cosy cabins. An excellent way to start life back on the oars!

What could be more motivating than rowing through a patch of bioluminescence…? We should probably explain. Bioluminescence is the production and emission of light by a living organism. It occurs widely in marine vertebrates and invertebrates, as well as in some fungi, micro-organisms including some bioluminescent bacteria and terrestrial invertebrates such as fireflies. And Cranial Quest were lucky enough to see this. Here’s what they had to say about their first night back at work:

“Last night the water was so calm it was like rowing on glass. The stars were so bright you could see them reflect on the waters surface AND we rowed through a patch of bioluminescence! Every stroke sent a swirling cloud of bright blue sparkles. Today we have rowed over 1000 nm so far! Pushing for that half way point.”

Fantastic to see that the pair have got off to a flying start after the storm. They’re currently 7th in the pairs category and 16th in all boats. Well done, team!

Similarly, Coventry Five-o are happy to be rowing in the right direction again, and a sunfish even helped itself to a nibble on Adrian’s dangling toes! After seeing waves as tall as houses, and as long as a road, they’re relieved to be back on their oars – eek! Also, Martin’s daughter Chloe has turned 21 today, so we’d like to wish her a very Happy Birthday. Dad promises lots of partying when he gets back!

Team Wadadli have reported “glass calm” waters and hot weather, which we’re sure suits the Antiguans down to the ground. More fishing we hope? Speaking of which, a hump back whale came up to their boat to say hi – although we think they’d need a much bigger boat to catch him.

A few of the teams have been spotted by a large Antiguan vessel as it travelled along the same area! Square One and Stuart Connacher of Facing It were both papped by supportive onlookers, who were kind enough to share their photos on social media to find out who they’d seen. Great for the teams to see a few new faces for the first time in 27 days!

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!