December 18, 2021-- Special Dotwatchers Update from the Atlantic
By Atlantic Campaigns Safety Officer,
Having spoken with all the crews and monitoring the social media posts there is a very clear picture of how flat and windless the row is so far. It may seem like this is a good thing but actually for the crews a flat, windless ocean is a brutally hard slog meaning that every mile is earned by hard work. A few crews have mentioned heading south to avoid a storm.... the storm is many hundreds of miles to the north so to put your minds at ease what they mean is that they are going south to avoid headwinds.
When people think of headwinds they often imagine big waves pushing the boats backwards but the reality of a small ocean rowing boat is that not much more than a light breeze can slow you down and increase the effort required to make rowing almost an impossibility. The screen shot shows an overlay of the conditions on the fleet.
Crews taking a more northerly line are now facing headwinds as predicted whilst those going south are having better conditions. This is the gamble - shorter route with slower, harder conditions or longer route avoiding the worst of the weather.
As we approach the end of the first week it is still too early to tell how this will play out as over the next few days the winds may come further south slowing down the northern leaders and those who have not gone south but also if the pressure system stays north the shorter route could pay off.
In the next week all crews will start making more west though and the predicted times on the YB tracker will start to reduce at a faster rate. As I write this two more northerly crews have called in to report light headwinds -not enough to stop them but just making things slower.