Week 1 of the Allum Cup and a New World Record

Wednesday 9th February 2011

08 Feb 2011

The Atlantic Allum Cup is now a week old for Britannia III. After three weeks of delays, and a change of departure location, our support yacht Big Spirit finally counted the starting mark at 12:04 on 31st January 2011.

Britannia III

Image courtesy of Jonathan Briggs

• Simon Chalk (38) Ocean Rower from Totnes – this is his fifth Ocean row
• Guy Griffiths (52) a Business Owner from Cardiff
• Ben Gothard (32) an Accountant from London
• Mike Palmer (45) a Firefighter at Manchester Airport
• Jon Paine (39) an Adventurer from Antigua
• Colin Gray (30) an Events Organiser from London
• Dan Munier (39) an Engineer from Boulder, USA
• Anna Lewis (26) a Graduate Student from Oxford
• Beth Kilbane (40) a writer from Lakewood, USA
• Jennifer Weterings (42) a Health Services Manager from Vancouver, Canada
• Suzanne Pinto (57) a Psychologist from Boulder, USA – the oldest woman ever to row an Ocean
• Roger Gould (55) a Consultant from Twickenham – rowed in the 1997 Atlantic rowing race
• Nabs El-Busaidy (40) a self-employed Adventurer from Oman – the first Arab to row an Ocean
• Shaun Pedley (18) a Boat Builder from Devon – the youngest man ever to row an Ocean

Britannia III and her crew left Puerto de Mogan and the crowds of tourists and supporters behind and made a b-line for the open Ocean. Conditions for Britannia III remained good throughout the week and despite bad sea-sickness Britannia III continued pulling the oars and making good headway.

The conditions across the Atlantic determine that the quickest route when rowing would be to travel south from the Canary Islands. From a lower latitude crews should then pick up stronger trade winds to help push them to the finish. This adds nautical miles to the official distance but, with stronger prevailing conditions crews will make this extra distance up with increased speed.

Britannia III clocked up their fastest “surf” this week at 9.6 knots. The crew, while initially scared, enjoyed the adrenalin rush of surfing down the face of the wave and are wishing for more of these conditions so they can lift their oars from the water and have a break from rowing.

The evening of Day 3 saw Britannia III and the raft An-Tiki coming closer together. Unfortunately our crew didn’t “meet up” for a coffee and some of David’s fresh bread but none-the-less enjoyed travelling at close proximity for a while.

During the last few days of their first week the crew realised that Britannia III wasn’t moving as quickly as they would like through the water. They unpacked and repacked the food (again) in the hope that the boat would stop behaving sluggishly. This had a positive effect as expected and Britannia III averaged 66.4 nautical miles per day for the first week.

Aware that they need to step up the game in order to be in with a chance of breaking the record Britannia III now has a harder job to do as the World Record has just been broken.

Team Hallin, skippered by Charterhouse Rowing Coach David Hosking, broke Leven Brown’s 2007 La Mondiale record by just under a day. The 6-person team arrived in Port St Charles, Barbados yesterday with a new world record time of 31 days, 23 hours and 31 minutes.

Meanwhile, Amigo started on 2nd February 2011 and has been enjoying some good weather. Ole and Serge clocked 2.8 knots on their first day and had a flying start.


Image Courtesy of Ash Chalmers-Stevens

• Ole Elmer (63) a retired Business Owner from Vancouver, Canada – this is his second Ocean Row

• Serge Roetheli (52) a Mountain Guide from Chamonix, Switzerland

Food has been the main topic of conversation for Team Amigo. Ole and Serge took some particular treats in their snack packs and have been looking forward to them each day. In their beautiful boat Amigo, the lightest boat we have ever made and complete with hydraulic steering, the crew have faced heavy seas between La Gomera and El Hierro and as usual there has been some sea-sickness on board. Serge suffered for the first few days but made a speedy recovery and now is back on a full “Serge diet”.

Both Britannia III and Amigo have suffered from the dreaded sore bottoms and blisters on their hands. The first week of these ultra-endurance events is often the hardest. This is when the body hurts most, after these punishing opening days your mind really does take over and dominate the outcome. While the crews are undoubtedly tired, it is the mind that tells you to carry on and blocks out the physical pain. While every time a rower sits down it may hurt, or the first few minutes holding the oar may send pulses through the hands and wrists, the brain ultimately cuts these feelings out and accepts that this is the way it will be. The body truly is a remarkable machine.

The Atlantic Row Update from Britannia III

Monday 7th February 2011

07 Feb 2011 07:40 GMT

Nabs El-BusaidyNabs El-Busaidy and the crew of Britannia III Ocean Rowing boat have made good progress over the weekend.  However, with 32 nautical miles covered in 12 hours Britannia III are aware they need to step up their game in order to break the mid-Atlantic speed record.

Although well ahead of the current record holder La Mondiale, Britannia covered approximately 50nm less than their competition in the 12 hours overnight last night. Ideally Britannia III need to be covering between 80 and 100nm per 24 hours.

There are four ocean rowing boats competing for the record.  Britannia III is one of three SWEEP rowing boats currently in the Atlantic and there is one SCULLING boat.

Sculling generally refers to a method of using oars to propel watercraft in which the oar or oars touch the water on both the port and starboard sides of the craft, or over the stern. By extension, the oars themselves are also often referred to as sculls when used in this manner, and the boat itself may be referred to as a scull.

Sweep or sweep-oar rowing is a type of rowing when a rower has one oar, usually held with both hands. As each rower has only one oar, the rowers have to be paired so that there is an oar are on each side of the boat. This is in contrast to sculling when a rower has two oars, one in each hand. In the UK the term is less used as the term rowing generally refers to sweep oar.

While sculling is a fully symmetrical movement (with exception of the handle overlap), sweep oar rowing is slightly asymmetrical and many rowers strongly prefer one side to the other. The average speed of a boat increases with the crew size and sculling boats are significantly faster than the equivalent sweep boats.

Nabs suffered from sea sickness at the start of his ocean row but is now recovered and settling into his routine.  He wishes everyone well, especially Maria and his family, and is enjoying reading all the messages on the website.

Woodvale Challange – The Atlantic Row

Wednesday 2nd February 2011

02 Feb 2011 10:09 GMT

Nabs and the crew of Britannia III were watched off the line on Monday 31st January by the official Woodvale support boat and many friends and well-wishers in Puerto de Mogan. They finally left the dock at 12:04 GMT. After the first 24 hours at sea Britannia III and her crew are making steady progress towards the finish. Top speed during the day was around 4.3 knots.

The knot is a unit of speed equal to one nautical mile per hour, which is equal to exactly 1.852 km/h and approximately 1.151 mph. The knot is used in meteorology, and in maritime and air navigation—for example, a vessel travelling at 1 knot along a meridian travels one minute of geographic latitude in one hour. The term comes from counting the number of knots which came off the reel of a chip log in a specific time.

Britannia III is capable of doing around 4 knots solely with oars, and depending on the sea, can go over 10 knots. Britannia III will also be rowing 2,602 nautical miles from the Canaries to the Caribbean.

The nautical mile (symbol M, NM, Nm or nmi) is a unit of length corresponding approximately to one minute of arc of latitude along any meridian. By international agreement it is exactly 1,852 metres (approximately 6,076 feet). It is used especially by navigators in the shipping and aviation industries, and also in polar exploration.

The nautical mile remains in use by navigators worldwide because of its convenience when working with charts. Most nautical charts are constructed on the Mercator projection whose scale varies by approximately a factor of six from the equator to 80° north or south. It is, therefore, impossible to show a single linear scale for use on charts on scales smaller than about 1/80,000. Since a nautical mile is, for practical navigation, the same as a minute of latitude, it is easy to measure a distance on a chart with dividers, using the latitude scale on the side of the chart directly to the east or west of the distance being measured.

The Ocean Rowing Society (the official adjudicator of Ocean Rowing Records for Guinness World Records) has now set up a comparitive chart showing the positions of Britannia III, Hallin Marine and Sara G (Britannia IIIs competition) against the current world record holders La Mondiale. It is interesting to watch the progress on this site to see how Nabs and his team are comparing to the current world record holders.

In the first 24 hours Britannia III covered 74.67 nautical miles and had a VMG of 2.71 knots.

To explain the figures on our progress page…the VMG is “velocity made good” and refers to the velocity (speed) made good towards the finish line. The DMG is “distance made good” which is the distance travelled by the boat towards the finish line based on the shortest route (i.e. as the crow flies). A crew will always row a greater distance than the DMG, simply because they will not be able to row a shorter distance than that of the ‘crow’.

The DTF is the distance to the finish and quite simply is the distance between a crews last known position and the finish line. It is important to bear in mind that Britannia III is travelling south-west at this stage, so do not read too much into the speeds (VMG) and distances (DMG), and as such are not travelling directly for the finish line.

Nabs is in good spirits and is settling into his rowing, eating and sleeping routine.


Wednesday 26th January 2011
There are 3 Germans staying in our hostel in Gran Canaria. They explained that they were “waltzing”, derived from the German term auf der Walz, which means to travel while working as a craftsman and learn new techniques from other masters before returning home after three years and one day, a custom which is still in use today among carpenters and other types of artists.
Interestingly, this use of the word is where “Waltzing Matilda” gets its meaning.

Practice Row

Tuesday 25th January 2011

Weather Forecast for Monday 31 Jan 0600

Monday 24th January 2011

Woodvale Press Release 23 Jan 2011 10:45 GMT

Sunday 23rd January 2011

Nabil (Nabs) Al-Busaidy, the first Arab to walk to the magnetic North Pole, and his Atlantic ocean rowing boat Britannia III are on standby for their voyage in Gran Canaria, one of the Canary Islands.

The Canary Islands, also known as the Canaries, are a Spanish archipelago located just off the northwest coast of mainland Africa, 100 km west of the border between Morocco and the Western Sahara. During the times of the Spanish Empire the Canaries were the main stopover for Spanish galleons on their way to America because of the favourable easterly winds. Christopher Columbus left the port of San Sebastian in La Gomera in 1492, when he discovered America.

Britannia III is moored in Puerto de Mogan, Gran Canaria during the preparation phase and Nabs and his crew have been out practicing on the water every day.

Winds have built to a strong 20 knots WSW over the past few week, the trade winds have dropped off, and Britannia III and her crew need to wait for a NE or ENE wind direction before they can attempt their crossing.

The trade winds (also called trades) are the prevailing pattern of easterly surface winds found in the tropics. The trade winds blow predominantly from the northeast in Northern Hemisphere. Historically, the trade winds have been used by captains of sailing ships to cross the world’s oceans for centuries; and enabled European empire expansion into the Americas, and trade routes to become established across the Atlantic and Pacific oceans.  Britannia III will use the trade winds to help her male her rowing journey from the Canary Islands to Barbados, Caribbean.


If you’re new to weather, check out the Surface Wind direction on Woodvale’s weather page.  These lines indicate wind direction and speed rounded to the nearest 5 knots. The longest line points in the direction that the wind is blowing FROM. The shorter lines, called barbs, indicate the wind speed in knots (kts). The speed of the wind is determined by the barbs. Each long barb represents 10 knots with short barbs representing 5 knots. You can see from the above image that the wind is blowing towards Africa rather than towards Barbados, therefore Nabs must wait for the wind to turn.

Nabs, who recently celebrated his birthday, is very grateful for your messages of support on the Woodvale website – www.woodvale-works.com – please keep them coming through.