Mind the Sharks

Wednesday 9th March 2011

09 Mar 2011

Britannia III have seen their fifth week of being in the Ocean fly past, safe in the knowledge that the sixth week should be their final one at sea. Britannia III have averaged 66nm per day towards the finish this week and since passing the 1000nm (to go) mark have been dreaming of the white sand and sun in Barbados.

Along with a weird weather forecast from a Nigerian tanker, Britannia III and her crew have been followed by a school of Dorada, been hit in the head by Flying Fish and have celebrated yet another birthday at sea (Suzanne).

Tuesday 1st March was the day in which Britannia III travelled the furthest towards the finish (76nm) and since then Britannia has been rowing harder each day and has hit the over 70nm mark again (4th Mar 71nm).

Yesterday Nabs El-Busaidy thought he saw a fin in the water.  Knowing about the dorada following the boat he wasn’t overly concerned, but after a few minutes he realised that the fin was a different shape and actually belonged to a shark.  Sharks are a pretty common sight when rowing the ocean and generally they don’t bother rowing boats. They are a bit like whales in that they are inquisitive and come quite close to the boat to see what’s going on.  Luckily this shark didn’t come that close to Nabs and the crew but it did have them on their toes for a few minutes!

The final stretch of Nabs’ mid-Atlantic row is when the boat is most likely to come across big waves and the chance of capsizing becomes higher. Capsizing refers to when a boat or ship is tipped over. The act of reversing a capsized vessel is called righting. If a capsized vessel has sufficient flotation to prevent sinking, it may recover on its own if the stability is such that it is not also stable upside-down. Vessels of this design are called self-righting. A vessel may be designated as “self-righting” if it is designed to be able to capsize then return to upright without intervention (with or without crew onboard). Britannia III is a self-righting boat.

At the time of writing, Nabs and Britannia III have 365nm to go towards the finish and we wait with baited breath to see them arrive in Port St Charles.

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.