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

Just 500 miles from the finish, Row2Recovery expect to arrive in Antigua in 6 days time. We predict their arrival to be very emotionally-charged, as the team will be the first all-amputee crew to complete the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge. Cayle Royce spoke with ITV News yesterday, and told them the three things he’s most looking forward to are a shower, a pina colada and a soft pillow!

To anybody who’s been following Team Beyond on their journey, and is local to Franklin, Tennessee, you’re invited to a welcome home party for Phil on 12th Feb! Head to the Facebook event for more details.

With the youngest all-female team (RowLikeAGirl)less than 50NM from Antigua, how are the other all-female team in the race doing? Yorkshire Rows have had a couple of bumps and knocks that meant the nurse in skipper Janette has been out to tend to the medical needs of the crew. But thankfully nothing serious! Despite a few difficult days, the ladies have adopted a positive attitude to help them through: “We have decided that whatever happens on this boat we will always be “GLAD”, so now when one of us says it’s too hot we will follow it with – I’m glad though because it means the sun is on the solar panels and giving us power”. That’s the spirit! You can read more on their progress here.

Atlantic Drifters are still having issues with their communications, but our Support Yacht has visited them and can confirm that spirits and morale were high. And with less than 300NM left to row their Antiguan dreams are about to become true!

Waterbabies Row managed to squeeze in a new blog post, which he tweeted a few days ago: Here’s today’s blog post: Today I went rowing and it was very similar to yesterday and the day before that.” Do we detect a hint of sarcasm, Callum?!

After all the excitement of yesterday’s Ocean Reunion arrival in Antigua, we’re turning our attention back to the water to bring you the update on some of the rowers who are still continuing their journey.

Family of solo rower Stuart Connacher (Facing It) request your ongoing messages of support over on Facebook, as he prepares for the last leg of his journey to Antigua! Here you can catch his latest blog post, where he seems to have adopted the attitude of “ce la vie!”

RowLikeAGirl have broken the remaining 100NM, and are now on the home straight! They’re expected in Antigua at midday tomorrow (around 4pm GMT). They are set to become the fastest female crew in the race history to complete the journey!

Square One Atlantic are looking to get to 1000 followers on Facebook – before they hit 1000NM to go! Please help them achieve this, and motivate Sean and Lee to keep going.

American team Caitlin and George of Cranial Quest started a Q&A session today! Head to their Facebook to join in the fun and hear some of the answers they’ve given, including the extent of George’s ever-bushier beard.

Matteo Perucchini of Sogno Atlantico managed a selfie today. The ocean diet is working, but the Italian is concerned about his lack of tan! Matteo is currently set to be the the first solo rower to arrive in the Caribbean, so we’ll be keeping a keen eye on his progress over the coming weeks.

Ocean Reunion Row In To Race History

Concept Four Ocean Reunion crew Angus Collins, Gus Barton, Joe Barnett and Jack Mayhew have broken the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge race record after they arrived in Antigua with a time of 37 days and 9 hours.

The team rowed the tough rotation of 2 hours off, 2 hours on, 24 hours a day to beat the previous race record by 4 days.

Ocean Reunion showed determination and resilience from the very beginning, despite a tropical storm, sleep deprivation, seasickness and agonising salt rash.

Despite the challenges, Joe felt that the race went even better than they’d planned: “Before you leave you have all the irrational fears – like sharks! When you’re out there, you have more rational fears like the water-maker. You think about things more practically.”

Describing the moment they pulled in to the harbour, Gus said “It completely blew us away. We came around the corner and all of us just got goosebumps all over.”

The foursome, all of Uppingham School in the East Midlands, reunited to embark on the notoriously tough challenge, and have emerged with the highest ranking of success.

Following closely behind are RowLikeAGirl, with just over 100NM left to row! Bella Collins is the sibling of Angus Collins, which is a first in the race history. Success clearly runs in the family!

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.

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.

Are you one of those who thinks a wave is just a wave? Then you should read RowLikeAGirl’s Definitive Guide to Waves. Here you’ll learn the difference between your Surfer and your Slapper, your Lap-Dump from your Let-Down:

The Surfer – this is the best type of wave, it picks up the boat and propels it forward at superhuman speed. It feels like you’ve picked up a power box in that game Mario Kart and got the speed boost – does that make sense?! It’s epic and I absolutely love them. This is the only good type of wave and comes rarely.

The Let Down – the wave that looks like a surfer and you get so excited to find that it flops and takes you no where. A massive let down.

The Shin-Dig – this is Lauren’s favourite, the wave that creates a party with your oars and your shins.

The Slapper – when a wave hits the side of the boat and slaps it hard, just to remind you who is in control out here.

The Spitter – much like the slapper except it goes straight for your face. You can only say “Cheers for the that” and life goes on.

The Lap-Dump – I’d say this is one of the worst waves, it’s another side one that picks up a bucket size load of water and plants it on your lap, meaning a wet bum and seat and therefore aiding the degradation of your once soft bottom. Will my bum ever look good again?!

The Ab Cruncher – if I don’t have a six pack by the end of this row I’d be amazed. The ab cruncher is when you have a series of side waves that rock you continuously from side to side, working your core beyond belief. It’s like the best work out ever and infuriating for rowing. However, right now my six pack is looking a way off, maybe we need more of these.

The Total Eclipse – we’ll get these when the winds are high, the swell becomes massive and you’ll see a wall of water rise above you, only to land on and engulf the boat making it feel like it’s sinking. On average they’ll shoot you down the wave at over 8 knots and leave you with a massive adrenaline rush.

The Strictly Come Dancer – sometimes the waves are just completely sporadic and leave you throwing an oar in whenever you can. This ends up looking like a form dance that I believe Len would give a 10.

The Wild One – the only other type of wave that I love, in these waves you see the silhouettes of animals. We’ve seen dolphins, a turtle, a chunky shark and today whales!!!

A most excellent and educational guide, thanks girls! You can catch the rest of the girls latest – and most wildly imaginative to date – blog post, right here.

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.

Today we’re talking about Lauren Morton, “British Adventurer” and skipper of RowLikeAGirl.

Some of you may be wondering “where have I seen that face before?” That might be because Lauren has attempted the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge before, but Lauren also appeared on our TV screens on Channel 4’s reality TV show, The Island with Bear Grylls in 2015.  She showed incredible bravery and resource during the show, and said the experience made her a “better, stronger person”. These are exactly the qualities that a capable contestant in this race requires, and as the team are currently holding fast to their second position, it looks as though the presence of these character traits is working in Lauren’s favour!

Let’s wind back the clock to the 2013 race, Lauren’s previous attempt. She was rowing as a pair with University friend Hannah Lawton. They were 96 days at sea, and the pair – one of 16 teams in the race – suffered what Lauren called a ‘catalogue of catastrophes’, leading to the decision to call it a day, rescued by a cargo ship bound for Canada. These included a broken autopilot, faulty compass, low pressure systems, a fire, a capsized boat, and various injuries, including a 7cm gash to the head.

Although unsuccessful in completing the challenge, her enthusiasm and determination to finish the race captured the hearts of people around the globe, resulting in both international and national press coverage.

Her application for The Island with Bear Grylls was successful, out of 80 000 applicants, and she appeared alongside 13 other women. The show involved 6 weeks of starvation and deydration, where the women had to do whatever it took to survive on a desert island. Lauren was dubbed “The Queen of the Island” by Twitter fans, and she was 1 of only 10 that made it to the end of the experiment.

Just 12 weeks after returning home, Lauren set her sights on the next big challenge. Running 7 marathons in 7 days, in 7 countries! A car crash in Belgium on day 5 meant that Lauren had to return home. Despite this setback, she went on to run the London Marathon with a time of 4.27.53 seconds.

Lauren strives to achieve the unachievable. She’s passionate about showcasing women’s strengths, both physical and mental. We’re convinced it’s this grit and determination that has got RowLikeAGirl to second position so quickly in to the race. With somebody like Lauren as a skipper, and the other equally driven crew members, Bella Collins, Olivia Bolesworth and Gee Purdy, success is pretty much written in the stars. Girl Power!

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.

The predicted weather doesn’t seem to have dampened (pun intended) the spirits of the fleet, and we’ve continued to receive their hotly anticipated blog updates over the last few days.

Team Beyond have a had an interesting week. They’ve capsized not once, but TWICE! Blaming a “rogue wave” for their first capsize, the boys and their equipment escaped unscathed, and went on to give a fascinating account of their experience, and an explanation of the science behind waves. You can find all of that here (and trust us, it makes for a very good read!). Tennessee-based online newspaper Brentwood Home Page have also done a brilliant write-up for Team Beyond, showing their support for the local lads, so be sure to check that out too.

Every bit of support that the teams can get gives them the determination and spirit to keep going. There’s a reason that the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge is named the world’s toughest race. It simply is just that. To see such rallied support from friends, family, sports enthusiasts and the media is a huge motivator for our rowers. So thank you!

Speaking of which, The Mirror have featured an article about Row2Recovery just today, with Lee telling them about the challenges, and the reasons behind such an ambitious event: “It’s the ordinary things that we take for granted like getting from one end of the boat and changing over as we’re rowing in shifts, we lose quite a lot of time when we could be rowing. But that’s all part of the challenge. But if four disabled guys can achieve this what message does that send? We’re doing this to make a statement that life doesn’t finish when you’re injured. Life goes on and you can still do extraordinary things.”

Defying the astronomical odds, All Beans and No Monkeys found themselves with a little competitive company in sight yesterday! Team Beyond were rowing right next to them! We sensed there was more welcome relief than competitive needling (although both teams reported some added wind to their sails!)

A quick one from Team Thrift – Shaun managed a brief satellite chat with BBC Newcastle. Despite “being up against it at the start of the year” they continue to make good progress and they’re “not complaining”! We know that they had a few issues with their electrics earlier this week, so it’s great to hear that the crew remain positive and focused. You can here the entire interview here, if you skip to 1:26.

Finally, we want to congratulate Ocean Reunion and RowLikeAGirl for officially getting past the halfway point! Many other teams are also very close to the same milestone now. Well done to all!

The wind continues from NE and ENE until at least 14 Jan. All looking good!

Ahoy there, Team Hesco! We’ve received their first blog post, and it sounds as though they’re enjoying their adventure. In short: wildlife, naked rowing and no drama! Click here to read the full blog.

It’s a shame the same can’t be said for Thrift Energy right now. They’ve posted this short message on their most recent blog post:

“Had our ass kicked last night. Huge wave hit as Andy got in the cabin. Absolutely everything soaked. Couldn’t sleep all night. Very tired. :(“

It really can be tough sometimes, so show your support and wish them well over on Facebook.

The Atlantic Drifters are settling in to their routine now, and have been blogging more regularly to keep their spirits up. Dave also managed an audio blog, reporting that the Oarsome Buoys are creeping up over their right shoulder, so they’re currently trying to stave them off. Exciting to hear of such close competition! They’re hoping to reach the halfway line in the next 4-5 days. You can read more about their recent experiences here.

Olivia from RowLikeAGirl has written a fantastic and detailed blog post about life on the boat. We almost feel as though we’re rowing along with them! Currently in 2nd position, the girls are doing incredibly well, and about to hit the half way mark. Read about their NYE glitter explosion, night time rowing antics, and naked tumbles here.

Rowing For Rascals are also updating us over on Facebook, with an especially interesting spreadsheet from one of their fans explaining (in incredible detail!) their performance so far:

“In summary they’ve completed 22% of the distance and have predicted it will take a further 47 days to complete based on the number of nautical miles rowed in the past 24hrs against NM to the finish!!!”

A strong start to the first few days of 2016. Just keep rowing, teams!