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The Atlantic Challenge
In March 2021, a team of four people will leave Faro/Portimao in Portugal and head for Cayenne in French Guyana in South America, a 6,000km journey across the Atlantic Ocean with no support vessel or any other assistance from the outside word.
The journey can take upwards of 60 days, but we hope to break the current world record for this stretch – 48 days and a few hours. This stretch of water allows us to take advantage of currents and trade winds.
The boat we will be using is a Rannoch 45, one of the best built and safest ocean rowing vessels ever produced. The Rannoch 45 is a mono hull made of carbon and Kevlar. It was designed by the most experienced ocean rowing marine architect – Charlie Pitcher. The boat consists of two cabins on either side and can withstand even the harshest of conditions. When the hatches are closed, the boat is self-righting, meaning if it does capsize, it will return to its ‘normal’ position on the water.
Not only is the boat safe, it is also streamlined making it very fast.
We will carry everything we need for the trip. Food will mainly consist of freeze-dried food, which will be re-hydrated on board. To do this, we will have a jet-boiler that can heat a liter of water in 60 seconds.
Each rower will have to consume up to 6,000 calories every day to be able to keep going and not lose too much weight. The average adult intake in normal conditions is around 2,500 calories. Despite the massive calorific intake, we will probably lose up to seven kilograms during the crossing.
Our water-maker will ensure we have enough liquids during the trip. If the water-maker stops working, we will have to rely on a manual water-maker. If this breaks down too, we will have to call it quits.
Otherwise, we’ll keep on going come hell or high water. And we’ll probably meet a great deal of high water with waves of up to 10 meters possible.
Living conditions on board are crammed, to say the least. The boat is around 8.5m by 1.7 meters and will play home to six people for nearly two months. It’s pretty much back to basics. There are no showers, no toilets, no sinks, heaters, hairdryers (not that I really need one), nor TV. Walking is not an option and the boat is constantly moving, making seasickness in the first weeks a very high possibility.
Blisters will form on hands and bottoms, feet and anywhere else the body makes contact with the boat or oars. You are constantly wet and the saltwater will not easily wash off. The sleeping area is very confined and there is the constant threat of being hit by other (far larger) boats.
The team will row for two hours on, two hours off. In the off time, we have to maintain the boat, clean ourselves, and eat. Whatever time left is used to sleep. So why the hell do it, I hear you scream…
The trip is also a once (or maybe twice) in a lifetime experience that will help me discover myself, that will challenge me to my extreme limits, and give me the opportunity to raise funds for people who dedicate their lives to helping others. I want to do it for those - like my brother and many others - who can't.
It is a journey of discovery and I hope it will make me a stronger and better person.
It will also allow me to be in direct contact with nature, experience amazing sunsets and sun rises, come in close contact with sea creatures, and swim in the middle of the Atlantic. What’s not to love…