January 2, 2022

FROM ATLANTIC CAMPAIGN'S Safety Officer

GENERAL

It has been 5 days since the last #TWAC2021 update and we are now three weeks in and with 26 crews having rowed over 1000 miles each and of those 11 having rowed over 1200 we can say that for some the halfway point has been reached. In reality halfway is a vague term for such a race as there are various ways of measuring it –

1. halfway in a direct line Gomera to Antigua 2700 miles but nobody rows a straight line

2. halfway in a predicted course but this changes almost daily

3. halfway in terms of estimated time at sea – but that is an estimate and though crews tend to be faster in the last 1500 miles nothing is guaranteed.

The key milestones for the rowers will be 1500 miles left, 1000 miles left, 500 miles left, 300 miles left and 100 miles.

At sea during such an extended race and adventure it is important to focus on the immediate situation, looking ahead can be demoralising and unhelpful so short term goals are key. Simple goals like today I will eat all my food, today I will be quick at my changeovers. Time can feel very odd in such an environment and weeks can go past in a blink of an eye and a two-hour watch last an eternity.

At the time of writing over 700 calls and messages have been made and received and Safety Yacht Suntiki has visited 6 crews and is on its way to the seventh capturing great images from the ocean as it goes. The first Safety Yacht will aim to travel through the fleet and arrive in Antigua whilst the second yacht will follow later joining the rear of the fleet in due course.

 

CONDITIONS

Since the last report some of the most repeated words and phrases from crews are ‘frustrating,’ ‘glass-like,’ ‘baking,’ ‘sweltering,’ ’rowing through treacle/porridge/honey/treacle/syrup/sludge.’ The last few days have been slow going with little wind or assistance from the sea. Compared to some years this means fewer injuries, fewer capsizes and knockdowns but the hard work to move the boats day in, day out, is immense and gruelling. As I write this better winds are expected to come in from the E and ENE until the around 5th when there is another lull for a day. The crews who opted for a northern route have been hit pretty badly by light conditions and headwinds causing the mileages to drop and some drastic course changes.

ISSUES

Fortunately the issues so far remain relatively minor. There have been no new technical issues since the last report and the repairs made by crews are holding. The gentler conditions have reduced the pressure on autotillers and the often-cloudless skies have meant crews have been able to maintain good charge levels in their batteries.

Nutrition is key to perform and maintain health and some crews are still struggling to eat the amount required amount of food, some have eaten more snacks than main meals and some are eating everything and are still hungry. All crews start with a set number of days of food depending on crew size and each rower must plan to have 60kcal per kilo of starting body weight per day in order to reduce weight loss and remain healthy. This means a 100kg rower will need a minimum of 6000kcal a day.

Aches and pains are expected and are increasing in frequency, skin rashes from sweat and salt exposure are starting to appear and there are the usual spotty bums and sore hands.

THE FLEET

Not every update will be a boat-by-boat overview but here is the current fleet position and a brief insight into each crew based on our conversations with them at sea and our time inspecting and talking with them through their preparations and in Gomera. Clearly much of our converstaions remain private but I hope this gives a bit more insight into the race and the life of crews at sea. Clearly these change but were correct at the time of writing.

 

SWISS RAW. Position 1st DTF 1568 Nearest crew 116 miles

The crew have pushed hard and worked tirelessly for the win but are not taking anything for granted. They are very focused but having a great time. Going south early meant that they have rowed over 200 miles more than some crews who are over 100 miles behind them but in doing so they have had consistently better conditions. Despite exceeding the recommended Kcal allocation per person, they are still hungry and the record onboard is for eating a 1000kcal meal in sub 30 seconds!

 

ATLANTIC FLYERS. Position 2nd DTF 1347 Nearest crew 10 miles

Coming together late as a crew the Flyers have worked hard to produce a great row so far and the biggest issue is that two of the crew are perpetually hungry. Having stuck to a good line the crew have adopted and maintained a good routine and at this moment rowed the greatest miles in the last 24 hours.

 

FIVE IN A ROW. Position 3rd DTF 1357 Nearest crew 33 miles

A close crew who are doing well at the front of the fleet. The dynamic of five on a boat and the reduced personal space can be a challenge and five is not always an advantage for speed. Five means five peoples food water and equipment but more significantly with four on a boat three can be rowing meaning only one person being carried at a time with a five there will always be two. It does mean that there can always be three on the oars but it is not the advantage some would instantly assume. Morale is generally high but there have been ups and downs as the crew deal with the frustration of conditions that are slower than they hoped for.

 

SHAW AND PARTNERS. Position 4th DTF 1390 Nearest crew 7 miles

Going north early the crew had a very strong start pushing hard on a shorter route to make great progress but as conditions developed they have been hampered by headwinds and slower conditions and once again over the last few days they have had to row in less favourable winds and been headed. Sore and tired the crew are still having a great row with some spectacular wildlife encounters and footage.

 

EAST ROWS WEST. Position 5th DTF 1397 Nearest crew 3 miles

A strong highly competitive trio and like the rest of the fleet frustrated by the slow conditions but leading the trios by over 30 miles.

 

THE BUBBLEHEADS. Position 6th DTF 1433 Nearest crew 9 miles

Another very competitive crew who have battled to make miles and get the best of the conditions. Currently the southern-most boat they are fourth in the fours class by 10 miles and in a very competitive position. Always professional and upbeat they are looking at pushing up the leaderboard.

 

ANNA VICTORIOUS. Position 7th DTF 1409 Nearest crew 55 miles

Like the others they are not enjoying the heat but are consistently making good mileage days. A quiet crew with no drama or hyperbole they are working hard and are looking at a good vrossing time. Their position and course means that they are at the edge of the slower conditions but that will change over the next 24 hours.

 

TEAM PENINSULA. Position 8th DTF 1464 Nearest crew 19 miles

Second in the trio class the crew have moved up the leader board rapidly in the last few days and their course and position puts them in a good place to capitalise on the improving conditions. They are tired and frustrated by the conditions but are determined and strong.

 

THE SALTY SAPPERS. Position 9th DTF 1483 Nearest crew 5miles

Working hard with a determined approach they are enjoying the experience but looking forward to better conditions. They have had no issues on the boat and are steadily working up the positions whilst those around them put up a fierce fight. The race between the crews outside the top three is very fiercely contested.

 

ATLANTIC NOMADS. Position 10th DTF 1488 Nearest crew 10 miles

Another highly competitive trio crew pushing the fours. After a lower morale day spirits are much higher and on speaking with them today they are pushing again, eating well and hydrating and enjoying the slightly increased cloud cover as a respite from the sun.

 

HELVETIC WAVE. Position 11th DTF 1498 Nearest crew 3 miles

Minor stomach problems early on and a recent sweat and salt induced rash have been issues for the crew but they are strong and performing extremely well. As well as working hard and making good daily mileages the crew have had some great wildlife encounters including some dolphin which they have great footage of.

 

PACIFIC BOYS. Position 12th DTF 1501 Nearest crew 7 miles

It was great to see the trio doing so well early on. Going north early gave them a lead over much of the fleet but the gamble has meant that they ended up with harder conditions which has slowed them and caused the dramatic southern turn over the last few days. On every Safety Officer call with them they have been upbeat and positive despite the grind and frustration of their position.

 

WREKIN ROWERS. Position 13th DTF 1508 Nearest crew 1mile

Workin hard in stifling heat the crew are doing well jockeying for position with the boats ahead and behind them. The boat continues to perform well and the crew are in good shape though struggling to eat the dehydrated meals. This is not uncommon as despite trying all the food beforehand being at sea can change people’s appetites and taste.

 

FORCE ATLANTIC. Position 14th DTF 1509 Nearest crew 14 miles

A strong crew who have put in many miles of training they are finding the heat and slow conditions oppressive. That is not reducing their effort though and they are consistently pushing over 65 miles in 24 hours.

 

THE MOTHERSHIP. Position 15th DTF 1523 Nearest crew 13miles

After earlier problems with an airlock in the watermaker, autotiller failure and a back injury the crew are doing exceptionally well and moving up the fleet. They have adapted extremely well and are thriving and are particularly making great progress at night in the cooler conditions.

ONE OCEAN CREW. Position 16th DTF 1536 Nearest crew 21miles

Always upbeat the crew are battling with Mothership for the female four win. Suffering with the heat they are looking forward to the improved conditions.

 

TWO ROWING FINNS. Position 17th DTF 1557 Nearest crew 11 miles

Extremely well prepared, experienced sailors the pair are putting in a strong performance with a 170-mile lead in the pairs class and are ahead of many trios and fours.

 

FOAR TOMORROW. Position 18th DTF 1566 Nearest crew 4 miles

The Danish mixed four are now looking to make headway again after the demoralising last few days. All are well and having just cleaned the hull again are hoping to add some more speed.

 

ELIJAH’S STAR. Position 19th DTF 1570 Nearest crew 42 miles

Working hard through the heat the crew are doing well and the only issue to deal with has been a broken gate. Speaking to the crew yesterday they are about to try their hand at fishing and have the frying pan ready.

 

IN DEEP SHIP. Position 20th DTF 1612 Nearest crew 6 miles

Working hard and slogging through the conditions the crew are into a well-established routine and morale is high despite the recent slower days and heat. They have had an autotiller issue which they have managed to fix giving peace of mind for the weeks ahead.

 

EXTRAOARDINARY. Position 21st DTF 1618 Nearest crew 0 miles

At the time of writing the crew are neck and neck with Row For Impact the other female trio. The crew are doing well ad have just cleaned the hull again in order to make the nost of what they hope will be better conditions in the coming days.

 

ROW FOR IMPACT. Position 22nd DTF 1618 Nearest crew 129 miles

Morale is high in the crew and they are reporting improving conditions and are looking to improve their position. Earlier on the motor for their watermaker burnt out after getting wet but the crew replaced this and report all systems functioning well.

 

WILD WAVES. Position 23rd DTF 1727 Nearest crew 62 miles.

Very determined and very competitive the pair are thriving at sea. They are working hard with periods of rowing two up everyday and when I last spoke they had just cleaned the hull to make the most of any effort they are putting in. They have had numerous wildlife encounters including whales but also report multiple flying fish strikes and even a bird flying into one crew member

 

EMERGENSEA DUO. Position 24th DTF 1789 Nearest crew 8 miles

Frustrated by losing their strong position from earlier in the race the pair continue to have an incredible time with wildlife and encounters with other vessels. Over the next few days and weeks expect to see them regroup and gain speed once again as conditions improve.

 

THE ENTREPRENEUR SHIP. Position 25th DTF 1797 Nearest crew 11 miles

Fuelled by Status Quo tracks the pair are having a great row and loving the experience. The enormity of the task is not lost on them but they push on with good humour and determination. Having taken advice and made south early on the decision has paid off and now that they have turned west they are getting the best of the conditions.

 

THE MINDCRAFT. Position 26th DTF 1808 Nearest crew 5 miles

Aches and niggles have had an impact on all the crews and The Mindcraft is no exception but they are making excellent progress with a good line towards Antigua.

 

ROW4HOPE. Position 27th DTF 1813 Nearest crew 16 miles

Always positive and happy despite the slog the crew are well and there are no issues wuth the boat. Early slow days frustrated them but they have now rowed over 1000miles and are fully at home at sea.

 

TEAM MIGALOO. Position 28th DTF 1829 Nearest crew 23 miles

The only boat of its type within the race the pair are both well and happy.They are strong rowers and have made good progress in the still conditions. They have had a very large vessel pass by within 100m and report great wildlife sightings.

 

TROPICAL BLUE WAVE. Position 29th DTF 1852 Nearest crew 13 miles

A pair that did not know each before coming together for this adventure, one from the USA one from the UK. They are doing well and enjoying the experience of being at sea with no issues at all.

 

FOAR FROM HOME. Position 30th DTF 1865 Nearest crew 68 miles

The crew all the other crews asks after! A good start was slowed after the crew turned west right into light conditions and headwinds that forced them to para-anchor. Back on track now it is always a pleasure to talk to the crew who are getting everything out of every moment at sea and bringing their supporters along with them. A recent super yacht visit has been one of the highlights for them so far.

 

OCEAN WARRIOR. Position 31st DTF 1933 Nearest crew 13 miles

The first of the solos Lasse made good progress and opened a lead early on and is looking to reduce his ETA to sub 60 days.

 

TIDEWAY ODYSSEY. Position 32nd DTF 1946 Nearest crew 96 miles

After some trying times the conversations with the crew over the last few days have changed and are much more upbeat with laughter and real enthusiasm. The slow conditions were a frustration but back working hard the pair are looking to make more miles each day and build on their position. As well as the usual wildlife the pair has a storm petrel on board recovering and taking shelter in the spare bucket before it flew off a day later.

OWENSROWING. Position 33rd DTF 2050 Nearest crew 34 miles

Owen was frustrated early on but a course change saw instant results as he makes west at the same speed as the lead solo. The heat has been particularly demanding and Owen’s winning quote so far ‘I am melting like a cheap candle’ is both funny and hints at the mental strength needed to undertake this challenge.

PROWJECT X. Position 34th DTF 2084 Nearest crew 130 miles

Possibly the happiest crew in the fleet. Whatever conditions they have faced and the problem of a power failure the pair are always positive and enjoying themselves. They are fully embracing the adventure and have no desire to race but rather make the most of the opportunity. As well as wildlife encounters the crew were visited by super yacht Twizzle in the dead of night who saw that they were out there and made a course change to visit them.

A LUNG JOURNEY. Position 35th DTF 2214

Sandro is making steady progress and we have spoken most days. The earlier decision to row east to hunt out better cobditions has cost him some time but he is back on track on a good course. Quietly competent (and not so quiet in some of his videos) Sandro is having the row he wanted and is enjoying himself.

LOOKING FORWARD.

This fleet is unlike any I have dealt with since the first TWAC race in 2013. There is always a strong spirit of friendship and camaraderie but this year it stands out more than ever. Crews constantly asking after each other, enquiring how others are feeling and if they are ok. There is great competitiveness too but not at the expense of friendship and the shared experience of this adventure. Some crews are quieter than others but we are speaking with every crew in a 48 hour period and can confidently say that the health and the spirit of the fleet is excellent.

Conditions do improve into New Year then drop before re-establishing themselves in a favourable pattern. With three weeks down there is still a lot that can happen and race places and ETAs will change dramatically. Supporters definitely do not book flights and accommodation until you have heard from AC and remember that the E in ETA is estimate and only when they are 2 weeks out can we start to have a 3 day window of arrival with any accuracy.

If you are speaking to your crews please encourage them, think about the small goals and nag them to stay safe, especially now they are both tired and more confident,

It looks very good out there with healthy, happy crews, no significant technical issues, amazing wildlife and hot but benign conditions.