The race began from the inspiring thoughts and plans that Sir Chay Blyth had whilst he was rowing the Atlantic Ocean in 1966 with Jon Ridgeway. It was 92 days of battle against hurricanes, 50ft waves and a near starvation diet. It's no surprise then that more people have been into space, or climbed Everest than have rowed the Atlantic. It takes a certain kind of person to keep going when faced with blisters, salt rash, sharks and sleep deprivation.
That is why the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge is one of the toughest races on Earth. We will aim to row more than 3,000 nautical miles across the world's second largest ocean, the Atlantic. We will head west from San Sebastian in La Gomera (a famous stopping location for Christopher Columbus) finishing in Nelson's Dockyard English Harbour in Antigua.
Once we leave the safety of the harbour we'll be on our own, on the vast ocean and at the mercy of the elements. Our aim is to become members of a small community of friends that have shared the adventures of an ocean crossing. The mental and physical endurance will result in a life changing achievement and we welcome you to share in our journey and progress, all in aid of a fantastic cause, the Movember Foundation.
One of the most important aspects of ocean rowing is meal planning. A male ocean rower will burn up to 6,500 calories after 10 hours rowing per day. An average of 80kg of food will be packed onto the boat per person, with an additional 20% contingency. As water contains 0 calories and represents considerable weight, the team will be eating food that contains as little water as possible, such as dried beans & lentils. As well as being packed full of nutrition, these meals need to be easy to digest, after all, these may be the only thing we look forward to in our day after so many weeks on the big blue.
Fortunately the races are timed to begin shortly after the Atlantic Hurricane Season finishes, but this doesn't mean we get of lightly; Tropical storms will be racing across the Atlantic, creating changes in air pressure and drastically changing the ocean currents, this combined generates up to 40 foot waves, with gale force winds, and nothing more than a sea anchor to prevent the team from rolling down the boundless whitecaps. Atlantic storms can last anywhere from an hour to days, seriously affecting the progress made, with the potential to run of course by over 100 miles. As well as storms to contend with there is also the sun; with a beautifully clear day and lack of cloud cover, comes blistering hot rays and the beginnings of salt sores, dehydration and what may seem unbearable heat!
With over 12 months to prepare, the team have allowed plenty of time to develop and train physically. All are members of rowing clubs and maintain intense training regimes resulting in heavy leg & back workouts at least 3 times a week; we are confident in our physical ability which will allow us to row 3000+ miles, but our concern is not the physical, it is the mental. We have all trained and have called upon our determination in many challenging events, but we need to train our minds to deal with the potential loneliness and pain that is continuous exercise for weeks on end. Most importantly, we need to develop our relationships with each team member and train each other to have the minds of ocean rowing athletes. The Nuts team will be publishing a training plan and recording their training workouts for all to see.
At 8 meters in length with 2 compartments for sleeping and storage; the ocean rowing boat is a hostile environment for 4 grown men. The bedroom is of 2m x 1m and can uncomfortably fit 2 rowers during their 2 hour sleep cycle. The deck, home of 3 rowing stations, harbours the remaining 2 team members during their row cycle, measuring 3 x 1.5 meters in width. With limited space, we need to ensure we use the space as effectively as possible. The boat will be bursting with as much equipment as necessary, taking the average 350kg boat to over 800kgs; which means we will need to learn how to handle the boat in all situations.
Ocean rowing equipment will need to be selected carefully; these items will guide us, allow us to maintain connectivity with the rest of the world and aid us in survival. The team will have to learn how to repair and maintain the vast list of equipment installed on the boat prior to departure, We will undertake a training course as part of the campaign to understand how to utilise equipment effectively and how to deal in emergencies.