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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!

Breaking news! The Cranial Quest have determined which snacks they like and dislike:

“We are sick of: trail mix, peanut butter crackers, and granola bars. We love: fruit snacks, mini muffins, gold fish, poptarts, and chocolate of any kind!”

OK, so hardly breaking news. But when you’re 30 days in to a gruelling 2 hours on, 2 hours off, 24 hours a day row, with nothing but the ocean and up to 3 other people for company, it’s the little things that keep you motivated! The Cranial Quest have also achieved their best time today, 64NM, which is around 3-4NM more than their previous best days. Brilliant news!

Now today is no regular Monday. It’s what social media has coined as “Blue Monday”, AKA the most depressing day of the year. Pay day is still another week away, those Christmas bills have started dropping through the letterbox, it’s cold, urgh. Luckily, such problems are a distant memory for our rowers. However, their version of it comes in the form of the perpetual stretch of ocean that surrounds them. Throw in a few handfuls of blisters and yet more freeze-dried meals and you’ve got the recipe for a genuine Blue Monday! But it’s these challenges that motivate the crews to carry on, and as it would now take many of them longer to row back to La Gomera than it would to push on to Antigua, we suspect the teams have barely even noticed it’s Blue Monday. Just. Keep. Rowing.

You may have heard a few of the teams telling stories of pesky “flying fish”, hurtling themselves towards the boat to some very comical effects. Solo rower Stuart Connacher of Facing It snapped the photo in our header image above, of the culprits themselves. Here’s what he had to say about them:

“These pesky little buggers are starting to hit some of the rowers and are ending up on deck……. Just miss finding one onboard !!!!! Wow they can stink after 24hrs like you’ve never smelt before !!

Ocean Reunion now have over 2000NM behind them, holding fast to their first position. That leaves just a third of the distance left to row, a brilliant milestone to reach and an incredible motivator for the team. In fact, all of the teams in the top 10 are getting increasingly close to this distance now. We can see some competition beginning to pick up, as the teams jostle for a place in the top 10.

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!

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.

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.

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!

The wind conditions remain positive for all teams, blowing 13-19 knots from the NE until at least 7th January. Keep up with the latest weather updates here at windyty.

No changes on the leaderboard in the last 24 hours, with fours Ocean Reunion still in 1st, (810 NM) pairs Atlantic Challenge (675 NM) in 2nd and fours RowLikeAGirl (741 NM) in 3rd.

Thrift Energy Atlantic Challenge are keeping their spirits high (despite permanent damage to their main water container and Sean’s thumb injury!) by regularly updating their blog, telling us of their hilarious antics at sea! Currently 22nd in all boats, they have hope of getting a bit more distance now that the winds have changed in their favour.

All Beans No Monkeys are also using good humour to get them through their journey. They’ve been repeatedly asked what is the toughest thing about this race, and, as is commonly reported from all of the teams, sleep deprivation tops the list! To show the size of the inside of their sleeping cabin (and their best Elmo impression!) they shared this video on Facebook. Keep up the good work, guys!

News just in! Team Wadadli took the opportunity to try a spot of fishing this morning – and caught a Mahi Mahi! More on that here.

Finally, to give you some idea of the size and scale of our incredible rowers journey, the JournalStar worked out that:

“George Pagano and Caitlin Miller (Cranial Quest) have rowed the equivalent of the state of Nebraska in just over a week”. Wow!