Once again, trying to keep with the same format as previous blog posts, we’ll get started with an update on the Boat, and then follow on with updates from behind the scenes, sponsors, partners’, and training.
In the last update we wanted most of our sponsors secured before we arranged for Signtech to complete the majority of the decals on the boat.
We were absolutely delighted to secure our final major sponsors (more in next section on this) and Signtech were able to complete the boat in respect of the decals in early February. Given that the boat was in an outdoor and exposed location, it was a major challenge in respect of getting everything sorted out. However, David Dawson from Gorey Boat Storage kindly found us an indoor location to move the boat to and Signtech were able to take it from there. The boat was finally designed, and we were very happy with how she looked. We still need to add 250 club names and wrap the oars but for now at least we could focus on getting her launched and see if she floated! After a year of ownership we were actually both quite nervous about launching her.
During this period Kim from Ports of Jersey had been very helpful in securing us a mooring on the visitor’s pontoon at Albert Pier. We’d need to access the pontoon via a tender, but this would not be a problem.
March seemed like our best option in terms of a launch date, since we were both away in the UK for a week on an Ocean rowing course towards the end of February. So, we decided to leave it until we returned and then kept an eye on the weather hoping for a period of low winds. Annoyingly early March seemed to see continuous high southerly winds which delayed us, but we eventually found a suitable Sunday afternoon and decided to go for it. We sought assistance from our good friend and support crew from the Sark Race, David Salter as we didn’t have a tow bar and didn’t really have the knowledge of driving with a boat attached.
This afternoon was not without dramas. We were both already a little concerned about the condition of the trailer we had been gifted. It looked like it had seen better days, but after a few preliminary tyre kicks we felt it would be good for the short, slow trip down to St Helier. We set off nervoulsy driving behind Dave who was towing the boat but we became increasingly concerned that one of the wheels was a little wobbly and stuck out further than the others. Not long after, that very wheel flew off the trailer, bounced off a wall and rebounded about 30 feet in the air and started bouncing back down the road behind us. Without any hesitation we alerted Dave to the drama, pulled over and Pete ran off to search local gardens for our wheel. I directed traffic whilst kicking the remaining three tyres and suggesting to Dave that we could probably make it to the harbour on three! We did manage to get there and get the boat launched and the trailer has subsequently been disposed of.
So, our maiden row was a quick row from La Collette Marina around to Albert Pier. With daylight rapidly being lost, there was little time to attempt a longer row. At this time, we had still not purchased a tender, so we moored the boat on the holding pontoon at Albert Pier. It felt amazing to finally have the boat in the water…..and she floats!!
We met a few days later and relocated the boat to the visitor’s pontoon, whilst taking an opportunity to do a couple of laps of Albert Pier. The following Monday and took her out for our first actual row in the bay.
The conditions were calm, and we had good wind assist on our outward journey. We were fortunate to see dolphins at our turnaround point, and from there the real challenge began. We were fighting wind and currents, and this was not helped by the fact our boat was light bow side. We made a conscious decision to secure our 100 litres of ballast water as soon as possible and even out the weight distribution. It took us a while to make our way back to Albert as we fought conditions, and this inadvertently resulted in our first night row. Good to test out the lighting and some other kit.
A few days later we took her out for a second row, and again encountered challenges in respect of fighting the wind. We viewed this positively and it was all time at the oars and counting towards the 120 hours of qualifying rowing we were required to do as part of race rules. During this row we also practiced deploying our anchor and generally establishing a working system of how we both moved around the boat
As we’ve become more familiar with the boat, it has become clear that we needed to make a few purchases. We’ve ordered two new pairs of Xcell oars, ordered new solar panels, and have had both of our water makers sent to the UK for servicing by the amazing Jim at Mactra Marine. The mandatory equipment list for the race is very long, so we have a busy couple of months as we check we are happy with everything we have and comply with race rules.
On the Sponsorship front, we had a few more conversations pending and hoped we could conclude these by the end of January. This was indeed the case as we secured another gold sponsor; Hydropool Hot Tubs . Swim Spas. We’d been in positive dialogue for a few months, and we were absolutely delighted when they confirmed they wanted to take the gold option.
Announcement of Hydropool as our final Gold Sponsors
We were also able to welcome Ports of Jersey as a bronze sponsor. Kim Gilbraith had been enormously helpful with various matters as we tried to source a location to secure the boat. Ports of Jersey agreed to secure us a fixed mooring location and find us a slot at the forthcoming Jersey Boat Show in lieu of sponsorship and they also helped us with the boat registration fees. All really appreciated.
We were also able to welcome Cazenove Capital as bronze sponsors. Pete had been exchanging emails with a former work colleague, Euan Dangerfield, and they were very happy to support us. We have also had more individuals and companies sign up for the 250 club:
Thank you to you all for the support, it is really appreciated.
We feel privileged to have a fantastic group sponsors’ supporting us and we continue to look for more 250 club members.
Steve and I have been having regular consultations with Kit and Paul at True Food, who are specialists in sports nutrition. Each time we visit we have an In Body scan and this provides us with updated information in relation to our body composition, being weight, skeletal muscle mass and % body fat. The results have proved interesting to date, and they are certainly keeping us motivated as we continue to train and fuel. Kit has worked with Ocean rowing teams in the past so is the ideal person to help us put together our nutritional plan both for the training phase and the 50 days we’re likely to be at sea.
Pete & Steve’s first In-body scans
We have also been paying regular visits to Kyle at Jersey Sports & Spinal Clinic. I have had a slight issue with my right elbow, and Steve has experienced issues with his shoulder. Both issues are responding very well to the excellent treatment provided.
Our weekly outdoor Pilates sessions have continued, and even in the cold and wet early mornings, we usually remain in shorts and t-shirts as much as possible. We both highly recommend Pilates for strength and mobility.
We have been out of race season so all training, apart from our more recent rows on Lilly Mae, have been spent in the gym or on the concept 2. Andy Glover, a friend and local personal trainer, had been training Steve for a couple of months and he agreed to take me on as a client also. To date, we have been following slightly different schedules. The sessions are tough, but very enjoyable. We have also been left with a very structured timetable of what we need to focus on in between sessions.
Both in Gym in Teignmouth
In late February, we spent a brilliant week with Seasports South West in Teignmouth to complete all our mandatory RYA courses. These courses were focused on Sea Safety, VHF Radio, First Aid and Navigation. The final day was not an RYA course, but an Ocean rowing course facilitated by Ian Couch. This really told us everything we needed to know about the forthcoming challenge and a whole lot more.
The week was intense, but an excellent experience. We met three other teams during the course. The first was Mike Bates aka ‘The Atlantic Grappler’, who is to row solo this year. We also met two female quad teams, being ‘The Atlantic Girls’ (rowing this year like us) and ‘Ace of Blades’ (rowing the year after us).
Personally, this trip really did bring everything to life and made the whole challenge feel far more real. It was also brilliant to be around like mind souls, whilst having the opportunity to ask questions to the race organizers.
We also managed to secure the services of Tim Cox as our weather router for the challenge. Tim was the tutor on the RYA courses and a wealth of information so we’re both really excited to have him on board to strengthen the team.
In addition we have also secured Barry Hayes of Shark Bait Socials to manage our social media campaign whilst we’re at sea. His posts are informative, engaging and fun so will be a great way of keeping everyone updated whilst we’re away.
At the start of May we both took part in the Macmillan Rowathon, completing 30km each on the Concept 2 erg in just over two hours. A tough little session.
April has been busy as we try to ramp up our training hours on the water in addition to logging everything and preparing for the off. We’ve booked flights and accomodation in La Gomera and have ordered a new Trailer to sell with the boat. Ideally we’d love to sell her to someone locally. Any takers?
Images from Seasport Training
Thank you all for your support and thank you in advance for sourcing us new sponsors.
If anyone has any questions, suggestions for fundraising/campaign or simply wants to come to view the boat, please do not hesitate to contact us.