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The Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge, now an annual race, will be back on the 14th of December 2016, pitting 13 new teams of rowers against one of the most fearsome oceans – in what’s considered The World’s Toughest Row.

The updated information on the new crews, their stories and charity partners can be found HERE.

It is an international fleet, there are seven teams from the UK, three from the United States, one from South Africa, one from Northern Ireland, one from Scotland and one from the Ukraine.  All will be at the mercy of the elements as they undertake one of the most perilous sporting challenges on Earth, rowing the 3,000 nautical miles from La Gomera, Canary Islands, to Antigua in the Caribbean.

The bar is set high: with a new overall race record of 37 days and over 5 Guinness World Records broken in 2015, the new teams are getting ready to conquer the Atlantic Ocean in the most epic of challenges. The 2013 and 2015 races also saw over €3.3 million raised in donations to the teams’ charities.

Over the next few weeks, the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge website will be re-launched and kept up-to-date with news, articles and inspiring videos.

Click HERE to subscribe to the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge YouTube channel and follow the action.

They did it! Congratulations to Joe Barnett, Gus Barton, Jack Mayhew and Angus Collins  from Ocean Reunion, who  were the first out of 26 teams from across the world to step on to Antiguan soil, winning their class in the world’s toughest row, the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge.  They have broken the  race record by completing the gruelling 3,000-mile race in 37 days 9 hours and 12 minutes. (The previous best time was 41 days, achieved by Team Locura in 2014).

Skipper Angus Collins commented on their win: “We’re ecstatic to have won the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge and this huge welcome in Antigua has blown us away.  It was incredibly tough and we’re so glad it’s over but it was such a fantastic experience.  I wouldn’t do it again in a hurry but if any of these guys asked, I’d absolutely do it again.”

You can send your messages of congratulations over on the team’s Facebook page.

Head to our Twitter page for more photos and welcome messages for the race winners, Ocean Reunion!

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.

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.

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.

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!