WITH JUST OVER 1 MONTH UNTIL RACE DAY, OLIVIA GIVES ANSWERS TO THE FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS SHE HAS BEEN ASKED SINCE HER LAST BLOG:
Q8. Can you see the other crews during the race?
Sadly there will be no rowing along side each other, merrily exchanging sea shanties and hurling bottles of rum from boat to boat.
Naturally the fleet sets off together from the start line, but it won’t take long for the crews to disperse… As soon as it gets dark on the first day, the tiny nav lights of each vessel twinkle and then vanish off into the night.
With a different baring plugged into the auto helm of each boat, and with varying weather and currents influencing the progression of the fleet, within a matter of hours the boats head on their different courses.
Q9. What are your tactics to beat the other crews?
Top secret of course!
Each crew will sit down together in La Gomera and decide on their baring to the Caribbean… the course plotted be largely based on weather predictions. It appears there are 3 common routes:
A ‘northerly arc’ (as if one were to draw a line from the Canaries to Antigua, bending a few hundred miles above the equator). A ‘southerly arc’ dipping below La Gomera and following the line of the equator. Or a more ‘direct route’ can be chosen forming a straight line.
Rowers often aim 100 miles south of La Gomera, to pick up the stronger trade winds and prevailing currents.
Q10. How big are the waves exactly?
I get the impression we might be faced with pretty big stuff out there.
It is said that the swell size can scale up to 40ft… This sounds terrifying, but unlike coastal waves that build quickly in height, creating a steep face of water before breaking, waves mid-Atlantic will not pitch in quite the same way (more like a colossal rolling hill that gradually moves our boat up and down).
That being said, even waves at sea have a tendency to break, causing boats in the past to roll or flip.
Q11. Who gets the most sea sick?
We have all had our moments.
During one particular practice outing, post feeding time, a short sitting in the stern cabin to read the digital screens was all it took to make us all feel terrible! However if I had to choose, the best chunder award (to date) is jointly awarded to both Gee and Lauren… if neither man nor woman is a true seaman until they are seasick, then these two are up there with the finest on the ocean. There is still plenty of time however for Bella and myself to qualify for the winning title.
The absolute best cure when a lump in the throat threatens, is doing something practical and in doing so taking ones mind off the situation… this is the only scenario i can imagine, that we will all be fighting over who wants to row next!
Q12. Can you contact friends and family back at home?
Yes, with thanks to our key technology partner Codestone, we have many gadgets and devices that enable us to touch base with shore. We will take 2 ‘Iridium Extreme’ satellite phones, one to contact race officials, weather forecasters etc. The other is for more ‘social’ calls with families, our charity, media & press etc.
We will also take a Macbook Pro on board, enabling us to email and ‘surf’ wirelessly through a Red Box device that acts as an onboard WiFi Hotspot. Through this magical box we gain 3G, WiFi, satellite broadband and can also create an electronic record of our position via an inbuilt GPS tracking system.
We will also have with us a standard VHF radio built into the boat, this is mainly designed to communicate with coastguard stations and other vessels at sea.
Q13. What happens in a crisis?
As part of the race requirements, we are expected to sit down and come up with a ‘crisis plan’ for worst case scenarios – everything from ‘man over board’ to loss of limbs etc.
Q14. Are there race rules?
Yup, click here if interested.
Q15. What do you wear every day?
Mostly not much, less clothing means less rubbing and chaffing!
However our key technical clothing partner Zhik, has supplied us with clothing for every weather extreme the Atlantic can through at us. From waterproofs to base-layers, the high performance kit is truly remarkable with benefits that far exceed others on the market. The garment technologies such as hydrophobic finishes, Superwarm and Isotak Ocean.
As a girl prone to the cold, i feared this aspect of the challenge above most others… shan’t worry now!
It is essential to prevent the blinding refections bouncing off the water into our eyeballs.
Our Sunglasses have been supplied to us by our partners Bollé inclusive of detail such as Polorized lenses and anti-slip pads on the nose and stems, these are the perfect solution for ocean rowers who spend every waking hour constantly in motion on board.
As an integral part of our safety gear, Spinlock have provided us with manually inflated, top spec, award winning, super duper 5D Deck Vests (life jackets) as modelled beautifully on the left by skipper Lauren.
These come with harnesses that, for obvious reasons, will be attached to the boat’s in most weather conditions.
When the sea is flatter, and during tasks such as cleaning the underside of the boat, we are more likely to be attached by surf leashes than harnesses (allowing more movement on deck and swimming under the boat).
In addition to all our safety equipment and clothing, suncream will be applied to exposed skin as often as possible. We have packed huge amounts of Prosport Sunscreen, providing up to 8 hours of waterproof, sweatproof sun protection each application.
Non greasy & non sticky. The professional’s choice is good for us!
Q16. How do you prevent all your stuff flying overboard?
We have quite literally attached lanyards to everything – tools, oars, seats, bottles… the lot!
For other items and objects that can’t be attached by lanyard and carabiner, we shall stow away in Overboard bags that are rolled shut and clipped onto the boat out of the way.
These sealed bags are completely waterproof, keeping clothing and apparatus dry.
Q17. How long will you be packing the boat for?
So far we have spent over a month packing up the food onto our boat in Essex, equipment and ‘snack packs’ (consisting of sweets, nuts and chocolate).