What was the last big challenge you undertook? What did it take to achieve it? Did you work as a team with others or was it a solo journey? These are the kinds of questions we will be exploring with our pupils over the coming weeks as we support a crew of five rowers in their race across the Atlantic ocean.
My Online Schooling are delight to announce that we are official sponsors of Five In A Row. Iain, Duncan, Ross, Fraser and Clive make up the Scottish five-man rowing crew who are preparing to take part in the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Rowing Challenge. The crew are rowing to raise money for a charity dedicated to changing the lives of those suffering with Rett Syndrome; a neurological condition that’s having a profound effect on the family of one of the crew.
My Online Schooling is proudly sponsoring Five in a Row's journey from La Gomera all the way across the Atlantic to Antigua. We will be supporting and following the crew's progress as a school, and have embedded special activities and assemblies into the curriculum over the coming months to bring a sense of challenge, teamwork and adventure into our online classrooms. Watch this space!
In the meantime, check out our Q&A below with Five In A Row crew-member Duncan, who gives us an insight into what the challenge involves and how they're preparing for the row, which kicks off this December:
What is the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge and what does it involve?
The Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge is an annual ocean rowing race from La Gomera in the Canary Isles to Antigua in the Caribbean. It involves rowing 3,000 miles continuously and unassisted. Crews can range from solo rowers up to teams of 5. We are doing it as a five man crew.
We will be rowing non-stop by in a shift pattern of two hours rowing followed by two hours rest for about 40 days. When we are not rowing we will have to eat, clean ourselves, clean the boat, navigate, carry out maintenance, monitor the weather conditions, send emails home, go to the loo (which is a bucket – the less said about that the better) and then also try and find time for some sleep.
What inspired you to take on the challenge?
Everyone in our crew has a different reason for wanting to take on the Atlantic crossing. For me, I am inspired by the sheer scale of the challenge. While I’ve always done various sports and activities, I’ve never taken on anything quite like this before. I’ve been a keen coastal rower for about 9 years now and have been following the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge for a long time too. The more I read about previous ocean rowing crews who had taken on an adventure of a lifetime the more I felt that I would like to challenge myself.
What does a typical day’s training look like?
The training has been a huge part of our campaign. We are putting in a lot of time on our rowing machines at home as well as lots of stretching and gym work. The most effective training however is getting out on the water in our boat. We’ve been rowing around the sea off of Edinburgh this summer. The first time we rowed through the night was really exciting. Seeing Edinburgh from the water felt like a real privilege and we then had to trust our navigation kit as it was so dark we couldn’t see where we were going! Being in the boat and out on the water allows us to practice every aspect of day to day life for when we are at sea.
In conjunction with all the physical training we have been working on other aspects of being part of an ocean rowing crew. We do monthly team sessions with a sports psychologist preparing us for the mental strain we will be putting ourselves under. Having a solid understanding of how each other tick is also a vital part of us being successful as a crew. On top of our mental preparations we’ve been working with a team management company to understand our crew dynamics. We’ve also had to complete training courses in First Aid, navigation, operating the VHF radio and general survival at sea, as well as organise the logistics of preparing our boat, working with sponsors, medical and dental checks, working with our charity, sourcing kit for the boat, testing food, sourcing clothing etc etc etc etc. The list is fairly endless!
What are you looking forward to most in the challenge?
Again we will probably all have different views on this but for me I am looking forward to us getting into a rhythm at sea and seeing how effective we can be. To be competitive in such a long race, we’ve got to be really efficient and consistent with our rowing while the conditions around us change constantly...
We’re also wanting to enjoy the whole experience so I’m really looking forward to clear starry nights and spotting wildlife along the way.
What are you looking forward to the least?
I’m a Dad and husband as well as a prospective ocean rower. I’m going to miss my family dreadfully while we’re away. I’m also not looking forward to the inevitable sea sickness that apparently happens to most rowers at some point.
What have been some of the highlights so far in the lead up to the race?
Our first outing in our boat, SS2, was a real highlight. Also the support from family, friends, colleagues, clients, our charity, sponsors, other rowers and even total strangers has been genuinely humbling.
What advice would you give to young people who have their own challenges they want to overcome?
- Take any challenge you face and break it down to manageable pieces. Then deal with one issue at a time.
- When taking on a challenge, surround yourself with positive people who will help you when you need it. Make sure you help them when they need it, too.
- Wear sunscreen.
If you'd like to donate to support the crew's campaign, please visit their GoFundMe page.