Whats Next? 'The Row Home' NYC - Ireland, Summer 2017

Well I'm barely off the Atlantic Ocean and I'm heading back for more! Last night on the Late Late Show, Irelands big news chat show, I spoke about my past and what led me to row the Atlantic solo in the first place, then got to say the very exciting news about rowing back across the Northern route from New York to Ireland. Approximately 3,000 nautical miles.

I used to have a chuckle to myself all of last year when people balked at the price of my Ocean Rowing boat and quickly assumed i'd be selling it after I'd finished. Not a chance, this was such a huge investment into myself, I was hardly going to sell it and go back to being normal.

I had the idea before setting off from La Gomera and had already organised my trailer to be shipped to Antigua, so I was already half committed. But about 2 weeks into the row I was loving it and even on the bad days I still fancied the idea. The idea was born out of rowing home into Galway bay, via Blackrock and into the Docks. This is the part of the Atlantic that most intrigues me, this is the real deal. There is a reason some rowers call the trade wind route the 'Holiday Route'

Battery Park New York City to Galway, Ireland 

Battery Park New York City to Galway, Ireland 

The trade wind route has been rowed solo 123 times sucessfully. The Northern route only 15 times, there are many starting and ending points. Newfoundland and Nova Scotia in Canada, Cape Cod and NY area in USA. To Ireland, UK and France, ranging in length from 1,500 Nautical Miles to over 3,000. With the Gulf Stream and it's northern extension - The North Atlantic Drift are a huge factor in getting across. of course it will be nice to get a push on from these but it's not as simple as that, the currents often have huge eddies coming off them. Rowers in the past have sometimes been stuck in one of these eddies travelling in a anti-clockwise direction for upto a week. Before being able to pop out the other side. Forecasting these is tough, but I will have a temperature transducer which will help indicate whether or not i'm being taken on a merry go round, the goal is to stay away from the colder water. Not only all that but last time you looked out the window in the middle of a so called summer in Ireland it could be mistaken for winter. The North Atlantic loves to throw up big summer gales and storms. Only last year Stein Hoff had to abandon his attempt to row solo after a 55 knot and 8 meter sea battered him and his boat. I have warned loved ones already there will be a point on this crossing when we are all going to be very very scared.

 

Gulf Stream coming off USA and Canada with alot of eddies and counter currents.

Gulf Stream coming off USA and Canada with alot of eddies and counter currents.

Setting off from Battery Park on the tip of Manhattan will be amazing yet a tricky under taking. This is the exact point the 2 Norwegian born Americans Frank Samuelson and George Harbo set off from, they were the first men to row an ocean and did so in 55 days back in 1896. Trying to get the exact conditions will be tough. Leven Brown and his team including Galway man Ray Carroll rowed this route in 2010 breaking Samuelson and Harbo's 114 year record of 55 days. Yes they were a 4 man team, but did it in an incredible 43 days. Leven who has helped me with weather routing for my crossing told me about them having to wait 6 weeks before finding the right conditions to get away from the continental landmass. 

Leven and crew flying down the Hudson River after leaving Battery Park.

Leven and crew flying down the Hudson River after leaving Battery Park.

So my boat Doireann is now snug inside a container and about to be put onto a ship in Antigua to travel to NYC. I've alot of work to do over the next 3 months! Henry and myself are having a proper sit down to draw up a battle plan after the weekend. Time is tight, I need to get her cleared of customs in the USA, find storage and then do some mods on her such as - add extra power (less sun up this side!) either another battery and solar panel ,wind turbine or fuel cell, temp transducer, oar stanchions and lots of small things. All that and trying to get another load of weight back on to me, currently up at 77kg. 

So with all that I hope to row into Galway sometime this summer, Rowing both ways within 12 months, the first solo from USA to Ireland, maybe even a speed record, if you like all that stuff great. But i'm rooted in adventure and the challenge, maybe this will close the chapter on Ocean Rowing in my life or not? Stay tuned.

 

#RowGavRow - A race to the finish

#RowGavRow - A race to the finish

As we enter the final week of the race, Henry Lupton from Team @SouloGav caught up with Gavan for an indepth chat about him and his row boat Doireann and asks how has he managed to fend off American Oarsmen?!


Gavan thought he wasn’t going to be able to compete with the American Oarsmen given the consistent high speeds they have been achieving in recent weeks. The arrival of new wind however means that Gavan can compete on this not so level playing field and they can keep each other company for the final week. Each are trading mileage blows and despite dropping to with 8nm of American Oarsmen, Gavan has increased that out now to 15nm again. Gavan covered 79nm in the 24 hours from 8am Sunday to 8am on Monday!

Gavan’s routine is based around the 4 hour blocks of the Yellow Brick updates. He tries to row for 3 hours and then break and eat and or nap for an hour. So he will rise at 5am, row until 8, break until 9 then row again from 9 til 12, break until 1 then row til 4 and so on. This get disrupted at times though, and a few days ago he put in longer hours to keep up with the nearby American Oarsmen. An increase in wind with suitable direction on Saturday night allowed him to sleep a bit longer and recharge a bit more.

All in all he feels he is in good shape and is loving the experience. He guesses he has lost about 10kg from his starting weight of 85kg. However that was weight he had intentionally put on for the row so he is back near his normal weight-ish. Refuelling has changed a little though. He has had it with some of the freeze dried dishes, a couple of the flavours were repeating on him in the early days and the remaining packs of those flavours were donated to the fishies in recent days. He also gifted 75 wet meals to Neptune giving him a bit of weight reduction. That huge quantity of treat snacks we saw spread on the pontoon in La Gomera is gone though. At the moment rice pudding along with Kilbeggan porridge are his favourite items on the depleted Doireann menu. At this stage Gavan is starting to crave the finer things in life like a decent wash. I could almost smell him from his description, I can’t imagine what it is like on the 2 and 3 man boats where water is likely more rationed. 


Wear and tear on the kit seems to have stabilised, the tweaks to his oars seem to have worked ok. With the livelier conditions the oars are thrashing him again of course but he is too happy with the higher speeds to be bothered. His surfing experience is of great use in this weather and he managed to grab the camera in time to catch a top speed of 14kts tearing down a wave last night. While the increase in sunshine is giving more than enough power to keep his batteries full he is still being ultra conservative and tends to switch off non essentials unless he needs them. Indeed when he is rowing in moderate conditions he is tending to use the foot steering rather than the autopilot. He has also forsaken his fitted stereo system with outside speakers in favour of his ipod which uses less power.

This monk-like energy conservation practice means his batteries are in super order as evidenced during his daily water generation. Earlier in the race it was taking 40 minutes to make his daily requirements he is now getting enough in 20 minutes. He even manages to make extra some days allowing him to avoid running it on the bumpy days.


We spoke about the autopilots as this is of most concern to me since the burn out of one of them off Loop Head in September. Gavan and I didn’t have time to protect the units from this overheating as we had planned. Nor had we time to fine tune each unit.  Two of them are not displaying correct compass information so he is really relying on one unit for quite a while now. Thankfully he has kept the aft cabin shut the vast majority of the time and told me it was bone dry in there. The auto pilot does throw a wobbly every now and then though and he noticed that when he was swimming to clean the boat that bumping into the rudder tended to send it awry. He had encountered quite a bit of seaweed in recent times and thinks that it sometimes snags the rudder and annoys the autopilot causing him to leap to the stern cubbyhole to tame it down.


So he is geared up for a tough few days rowing in his attempt to stay ahead of the lads in American Oarsmen. They are literally in the same boat as him but a year older. You can see from photos that the Rannoch 20 has two positions so it is suitable for one, two or three rowers. Smaller boats were used in the past by solo rowers but they are not allowed in organised events.  The Facing it and Fresh Dental crews are looking like they will be keeping each other company approaching the islands too.

"I'm focused on controlling the controllables. I know about American Oarsmen but I can't do anything about what they're doing. I can only focus on rowing my boat and pushing myself to the limit to get to Antigua as fast as I possibly can.

My goal before this race was to be the first solo man home and to set a new IRISH record. I'm going to achieve that. I'm fighting hard out here with my body and my mind. I'm focused on the next stroke and the one after that. I've got plenty of water infront of me and I'll be pulling hard each and every minute I've got left out here. I'm gonna get to Antigua with style and raise that flare and tricolour high when I get there!"


Lots of folk have been asking what he is doing next. Since he had never done anything like this prior to the row, there was a good chance he might have been looking towards keeping his feet dry in the future! From the sounds of him at this late stage in the race, he is enjoying himself too much though! It looks like there won’t be any ocean rowing boats on DoneDeal any time soon.

 

 

#AskHenry - AIS, VHF and other acronyms

#AskHenry - AIS, VHF and other acronyms

How are we tracking Gavan and the rest of the fleet taking part in the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge?

The Yellow Brick tracking you see on the Talisker Challenge broadcasts every 4 hours. However the rowing boats also car the Automatic Identification System (AIS) transponder system which broadcasts every couple of minutes.  It is quite a simple system as it shares the VHF radio on the boat and often its aerial. Other ships pick up this signal and the information contained within. This includes boat name, the unique MMSI identifier number, boat length speed and direction. Ships transmit even more information such as where they are going and what port they last visited. This system has been a huge addition to safety of life at sea but it is also great for just snooping around the world. 

In addition to ships picking up each others information once they are within broadcast distance of a shore base station e.g. Galway Coastguard Radio mast on Tonabrocky the signal can be further transmitted over the internet.  This allows you to track ships around the coastline anywhere around the world.  The odd time you see a target going at 120knots, this is typically a coastguard rescue helicopter who carry marine as well as aircraft transponders. 

If you zoom into busy shipping lanes such as the English Channel, near Rotterdam, Shanghai, LA, etc the number of ships will surprise you.

In recent years satellites have begun picking up the VHF signals from mid ocean AIS units. The satellites have an unimpeded view a few miles above the ship. On some sites you can see the ships offshore but cannot identify them without paying for a subscription. The most popular sites are www.marinetraffic.comwww.vesselfinder.com and www.shipfinder.com. If you google AIS trackers you will find them.

The Talisker Rowers can be seen on the AIS now but its hard to identify them and you get no details. However once they get within reach of the shore you can fully identify the boats and get full information. The rule of thumb for VHF is 'metres high miles wide’ ,so a 10 meter high aerial will reach 10 nautical miles. Weather dictates a lot and often the range is further. Unfortunately the rowing boats aerials are only about 2 metres high. The height of the Antiguan Coast guard Radio Masts will determine a lot but Technically  this “may" allow us to follow the last 10 or so miles of the race minute by minute.Given how close it is now there will be plenty of us doing so. 

You can input the name of a vessel and search for it. The most recent search for Doireann  on shipfinder shows her south of La Gomera Canary islands on 14 Dec, its last satellite position was seven hours ago. vesselfinder was 16/12 off the Canaries while Marine traffic spotted her on satellite 10 minutes ago.

Here is a screen grab of a "familiar pair of pleasure craft" targets heading towards Antigua: I'm sure they would argue about the ‘pleasure’ denotion but Rowing has not been designated a colour - yet.

 

#SoulogavArmy - Collette Furey

#SoulogavArmy - Collette Furey

One of Gavan's best friends and indeed his housemate (before the row!), Collette Furey gives us an insight into her great friend Gavan

Gavan is a close friend of mine. We met through mutual friends in the Jes when we were in our teens and we've been close for over 16 years now. I've seen first hand the struggles he had when he was younger and the tough journey he had to go through to recover from them. The strength he has gained from those experiences are now huge assets for him. I can see that strength shinging through not just on his challenges and adventures... but in every talk and speech he makes about his journey. 

I am a primary school teacher and I teach 5th class in Scoil Bhride, Shantalla. Gavan  is a big supporter of the school and the students in turn are big supporters of him. He has made many trips to the school over this past year and he has gained actual hero status amongst all the kids here in Scoil Bhride.

Gavan first came to the school to speak to us about his solo adventure in the Artic as part of the Yukon Arctic Ultra. Over the five days, in which he was racing, we were following him in class every day on the tracker. The kids were hooked straight away. They had so many questions about the race and his job (I'd briefly explained that he was a saturation diver) that the best thing to do was just to get him in for a chat. He arrived to the school dressed in his down suit and pulling the sled and due to this 'very cool' entrance he became an instant legend! He spoke of all of his adventures up to that date and opened up the kids eyes to a world of surfing, heli-snowboarding, the Antarctic, climbing some of the highest peaks in Nepal, life as a deep sea saturation diver and racing in the Yukon. Staff and pupils alike sat open mouthed and fascinated as he regailed story after story, experience after experience. He was so engaging and answered every question so patiently from the very excited and inquisitive audience. He gave the kids the chance to examine his gear and gave practical demos of how he used each and every item. We were all so fascinated by everything that he was doing. His message was simple: 'anything is possible' and this really resonated with the kids. Through his support of the two charities he made the kids aware of the work that Cancer Care West and Jigsaw do and was able to give insight into the positive things they do for people in tough situations. His attitude of believing in yourself and pushing yourself outside of your comfort zone was one that stuck with everyone. He has been so encouraging towards our school and a real advocate for the philosophy of the school and the ethos behind it

When the kids learned of his latest challenge to row solo across the Atlantic, it caused a huge stir in school, so it was inevitable that he would be back in again to dazzle the kids with his newest undertaking. This time he had Doireann, his ocean rowing boat, in tow and he attracted the attention of RTE News who were on site on the day to report on the days activities. Throughout the morning every child in the school, from Early Start to 6th class, got a chance to not only meet Gavan and Doireann but to get on board and have a look around in what would become Gavan's home while he rowed across the Atlantic. The entire school body milled around the boat and asked numerous questions while RTE filmed the action. He took the time and interest in every kid and made sure they all got a look in his cabin to closely examine all the technology and supplies needed for such a trip. However, the kids demanded more! The school then had Gav come into the hall for what turned out to be a marathon question and answer session. I think the kids would have stayed there for hours asking him questions and while he gave all his attention to the kids and their questions we eventually had to call a halt to the talk. There was such an atmosphere of excitement and curiosity on that day and it has continued right the way through this adventure of Gavans. The kids all follow him on the tracker and there are daily reports of his progress as they figure out every day how far he has travelled. They feel so involved in his ups and downs out at sea. It made their day last week when I told them that we were going to ring him and he was going to do an exclusive interview with us. They had read all his tweets, blogs and updates, watched the Talisker race documentary from last year and 'dot watched' so they were well prepared with questions and words of encouragement for him. He took time out of his hard daily graft of 16 hours of rowing to chat to the kids for about 20 minutes and it was magical to feel the excitement in the air. We are so proud of him and we can't wait to see him back again with all his tales of adventure from the Atlantic.

Having lived with Gavan for the two years leading up to the row I am well aware of the amount of preparation, sacrifice and commitment that has gone into this challenge and I have no doubt that he has the mental strength and endurance to complete this race, break some records and continue to inspire everyone he meets. I know he really enjoyed giving talks in many primary and secondary schools throughout the country and as well as the students being motivated and positively influenced by him I know he was also very honoured and humbled by the interest in his story and his adventures. #rowgavrow #scoilbhridekids

 3: Gav, the hero, signing autographs for 5th class

 3: Gav, the hero, signing autographs for 5th class

4: The kids exploring Doireann 

4: The kids exploring Doireann 

6th class and their hero

6th class and their hero

Our Spanish girls who felt a special bond with Gavan when they realised he was starting his race from The Canary Islands

Our Spanish girls who felt a special bond with Gavan when they realised he was starting his race from The Canary Islands

Art lesson inspired by the local hero

Art lesson inspired by the local hero

#AskHenry - Trade Winds & Trade Ins

#AskHenry - Trade Winds & Trade Ins

Trade WInds:
Usually at this time of the year the NE trade winds are well established. This means it can blows strong from that direction. As we have seen from the Talister Challenge and the Vendee Globe this year’s weather is atypical. The doldrums area of no wind by the equator is very big and the normal patterns are not happening.
Gavan is also entering the region that is prone to thunderstorms. The higher temperature cause these sudden localised outbursts to form right in front of you. Most boats can sail or drive around them and can seen them at night on radar. Gavan will see them during the day but will be unable to divert and at night he will suddenly come upon them. The wind strength doubles in these outbursts and there is tremendous rain. Its a great way to clean the boat and crew and to collect water but its quite a lot to handle on your own in a small boat. Perhaps the unusual nature of the present weather will not encourage the formation of thesecloudbursts.

So the weather gods are not favouring Gavan. While he is relying on very little sleep he does need it and tends to need a longer catchup period every four or five days. If he has wind he can keep maintain some progress while asleep but the crewed boats have a huge advantage once the wind dies down.
Sadly the forecast over the past week is consistently showing slack air just ahead of him and extends through this weekend.
This will suit American Oarsmen who had been tipped to win the event. They have found another gear in the second half of the event and are getting much better speed than they had earlier on.

It is very hard for Gavan to ignore they crews directly behind him but the weather and their actions are entirely out of his control. An incredible frustrating situation for him. No matter how hard he works in these conditions the advantage is to the others.
All our encouragement has to be focused on what he can control. Eating well, getting just enough sleep, rigging adjustments, hull cleaning, navigation and good technique.

Trade Ins:

There have been some technical difficulties out there these past two days but hopefully matters will improve. It's been a very slow past 24hrs and at times Gavan has really struggled. The light winds haven’t helped but one of his oars has not been engaging with the water and was tending to pop out as it was pulled. Its called ‘washing out’ in rowing speak. Flat water sculls have lots of fine tune adjustment to get the angle of entry pull and extraction just right. Doireann is built for robustness over fine adjustment. We considered some hacking options but upon further inspection some wear on the pink sleeve on the oar was detected. Luckily he is carrying a spare set of oars and has swopped both oars and the black swivels that retain the oars and allow their rotation around a stainless steel pin.
He has already replaced the sliding seat due to wear on the bearings and wheels.
In addition Gavan dove under the boat this afternoon and scraped the hull surface clean. The rate of growth on the hull surprised him. Any roughness on the hull induces drag especially in light winds. Hopefully these tweaks will help his performance. Unfortunately the light airs extend for quite a few more days.

To get an idea of use and wear on a boat. Club rowers would generally do 2000 kilometers per year. Elite level would be 4000 and O’Donovan types above that.
Gavan has effectively put his kit through over a years use in a few weeks!

Send out the positive vibes across the Atlantic folks!

#SoulogavArmy - Emmett Hartigan

Gavan's Chartered Physiotherapist, Emmet Hartigan gives us some background and insights into the work and preparation they did together ahead of Gavan's adventure across the Atlantic Ocean.

It was about a year ago when Gavan and I sat down for a coffee in Salthill, Galway and he told me about his plans to row across the Atlantic for charity. One of the first things I thought was “you’re going to need a lot of physio!!!”. Not because Gav is in any way injury prone but due to the scale of this challenge and the massive physical toll it would have on his body. The number of hours he would have to spend training for it would be an ordeal for anyone’s body.

Thankfully Gav was keen to get my thoughts and jumped at my suggestion that we work together to get him as physically prepared as possible. The work began almost instantly. Gav and I sat down down again shortly after this to chart out how his training programme would progress over the year, other events which he had already planned, how these events would change his injury profile, and how best to tackle this challenge from a physiotherapy perspective.

The first challenge we had was that Gavan had a number of adventures planned in the interim which had nothing to do with rowing!! Gav was already well into his training for his second attempt at the Yukon Arctic Ultra Marathon and of course while dragging a tyre for 12 hours a day around the back roads of Connemara he caused significant wear and tear to his calf muscles, glutes and left ankle. We had a race against time to diagnose and treat his ankle before he flew to Canada for the race. After a battery of testing we tired several approaches to treatment, deep tissue massage, taping, dry needling therapy, ankle and joint moblisations, ultra-sound therapy and altered his footwear to optimise his ankle and foot position when running and walking. While we made good progress the timing of the race and and the intensity of the training meant that Gavan carried that injury a little into the race with him. Thankfully he managed it quite well and it only bothered him towards the end and he still managed a fantastic 2nd place finish!!!

On his return to Ireland we put together an extensive flexibilty regime to improved his overall movement in preparation for his next challenge – the solo trek across frozen Lake Bikal in Siberia. Gavan at this stage also began to start his rowing training in earnest and was spending 2 hours daily on the rowing machine in his apartment. This resulted in some lower back and hip flexor tightness. It was however always going to be part and parcel with the training regime, as well as the race itself so we worked extremely hard to maximize his movement in these areas. Gav would attend regularly for soft tissue massage, myofascial release, dry needling therapy, correction of exercise technique and tweeks to his programme. And from time to time he would come in just for a quick motivational session (i.e. a scolding) if he started to lag on his injury prevention work.

Gavan had one significant injury over the year which came on as a result of training for and competing in both the Art O’Neill challenge and an ultra- marathon run across the hills from Westport to Achill. Due the his training load and the development of trigger points in the gluteal muscles he began to have pain, loss of power and some strange sensation in his left leg. He required extensive work on his lower back, gluteals and muscles of the leg as well as a re- education programme to ensure his core and stabilizing muscles were firing correctly.

One of the most unique aspects of working with Gavan for the Talisker Atlantic Challenge was trying to anticipate his needs after 30-40 days of rowing and in the confined space of his boat Doireann. We spent a session in the boat itself discussing what his priority areas would be and modifying a maintanence programme which he could complete while on the water. Obviously this took some thinking outside the box and a bit of trial and error. Some of the work would also be weather dependent as the size and direction of the swell could seriously affect the ability to carry out the programme.

Through a lot of hard work, good planning and treatment Gavan started the race injury free and in great shape. The race will of course take it’s toll but the fatigue, sleep deprivation, cuts and bruises will likely take a far worse toll than any muscular injuries he will suffer. One thing I know for certain is that I’ll be seeing quite a bit of Gavan when he gets back from Antigua. I’m not sure what adventure he has planned for later this year, but we’ll start again and make sure he’s ready!!!

Emmett Hartigan MISCP

Galway Bay Physio - 091 569706 - www.galwaybayphysio.ie

emmett.galwaybayphysio@gmail.com

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#AskHenry - Alone above but nature is peeking out from below

#AskHenry - Alone above but nature is peeking out from below

From a nature perspective, what can Gavan expect to see out on the Atlantic Ocean?

While Gavan is in one of the most remote spots on the planet he is not totally alone.

He is now in flying fish territory and has already come across some. They have the habit of unexpectedly landing on deck unannounced a they escape pursuit of bigger fish. BBC have a great clip showing these amazing creatures escaping predators.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=szuchBiLrEM 

It is not unusual to find one dead on deck in the morning in this part of the ocean. While edible they are quite small and very boney. 

As he moves further west he will start to see more wildlife. He has already come across whales in the distance. This isn’t his first encounter though. Off the Cork coast last summer, on the morning after his first solo night passage he saw his support boat photographing a nearby Fin whale. It was then that he realised the source of the booming spray noise he had been hearing alongside him all night. Fin whales are about 15m long, over twice the length of his boat and a whole lot bigger. This one had been keeping him company as he approached The Old Head of Kinsale a well known feeding area for whales. Whales are curious and often approach boats at sea, especially when they are in remote places offshore. They are also very plentiful around the Irish coast, check out www.iwdg.ie to see the latest sightings.  Gavan was a guest on Celtic Mist,  the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group’s research boat, in Baltimore last Summer. Simon Berrow, the CEO of IWDG supplied him with identification charts to carry on board so he can now tell which of these huge animals is paying him a visit.

A small black bird appeared near Doireann a few times in recent days. He hasn’t managed to identify it yet and is striving to get a photograph. This will be important 'cos given his current practice of rowing on a couple of hours sleep he may have to be forgiven for hallucinating. Finding land birds out to sea is not that unusual. They can get caught in weather systems or simply hitch lifts on ships. 

As he gets into more tropical waters he will likely see turtles, very colourful fish and more sea birds. Hopefully he will get some underwater footage with his go-pro.

The most abundant wildlife Gavan is encountering is actually unwanted! barnacles and weed are growing on Doireann’s hull. The boat has a coating of antifoul which is a thin paint containing copper which discourages growth but does not eliminate it. Once the water is warm the surface of the boat offers a fine home for a variety of critters and plants. Ships have struggled with fouling for centuries. Very toxic coatings did work but were thankfully outlawed for environmental reasons. All sorts of materials have been tried but mother nature keeps winning. The growth on a ship can extend over 1 foot thick which slows the boat down and increases fuel costs considerably. The effect on Doireann is the same so Gavan has taken to hopping overboard and swimming under the boat to gently scrape the surface clear of the biofilm before it grows enough to create drag. Apparently the little hole for his watermaker is a favourite spot for them to congregate and this needs to be particularly clean to ensure good flow. 

If he really wanted company he could allow the growth to happen on the hull. It acts as a dinner table for various fish that come along to nibble on it. Handy if he needed to go fishing!

#RowGavRow #4 - The struggle is real

#RowGavRow #4 - The struggle is real

After a very tough couple of days, preceded by 10 days or so of mixed weather, Team #RowGavRow finally caught up with a much brighter and chirpier @soulogav…

Gavan was hit by some very heavy weather on Saturday night. He strived to maintain forward momentum but the weather gods were mightier than he. It started to knock him backwards. Yards and meters are hard earned out on the open ocean and he was determined not to lose too many of them. He deployed the sea anchor to halt the African pull. It was on a short rope initially but he was still drifting at over half a knot so he put it out on a longer line and that held him steady. He could do nothing more at that point but ride it out and watch for changes. He stayed on deck, on oars, in high seas and roaring wind as rain drove at him like pellets. Waiting for his moment to come off anchor and launch into rhythm again. It wouldn’t come though. He sat there for what seemed an eternity.

He had very little sleep over the past week and a half and so he was at the point of exhaustion by the time the squalls eventually past. He hauled the sea anchor back on board and was so drained that when he sat on his perch, his body refused to respond. He was unable to row any further. Despondent, he hit the cabin and reluctantly closed his eyes. Yearning for recovery to come so he could get back to work, knowing that the chasing crews of 2, 3 and 4 people would be trying to take advantage. He was very frustrated and shouted and roared into the cabin. The sounded vibrated around him until swallowed by the vast great openess and silence. Eventually he calmed and when he lay his head down, sleep overcame him and he was quiet… until all the alarms his world woke him! He’d slept for 6 hours. The longest stint of singular rest he’d had since a month ago, when he set out from la Gomera. When he woke, panic hit and after doing his checks he jumped on the oars, shouting in frustration at the peeping sun as it rose on the horizon. The anger passed soon but the frustration lingered and His spirits remained low until a phone call with his mentor Henry told him that the lead was still intact. He had had a terrible night but crucially, he had not lost ground. The news settled him. They were struggling in the weather too. The flotilla was experiencing hardship in equal measure.

The pressure is relentless and it is everywhere. It’s there on his mind as he battles internally day in day out, it’s in his hands and fingers near raw from the repetition. Grip, twist, place and pull. Grip, twist place and pull…It’s in his battered shins knocked each time a wave strikes Doireann. It’s in his sun burnt skin exposed for 16+ hours a day on the deck. It's in every sinew of muscle that strives for forward momentum as he rows, rows and rows to maintain that lead of 50-60nm and inch him ever closer to the finish line...

Gavan sent us an email to post here and give you some first-hand insights into what he’s going through alone on the Atlantic.

“Hey friends, followers and obsessive dot watchers! Less than 1,000 Nautical miles (1,852km) to go! Been up against the wall here. The conditions have been averse to say the least! I've had currents going against me, localised storms and winds from about every angle. The teams behind me have been making decent inroads to my lead so I did what any self-respecting soloist does... I reduced my already measly time off and rowed some more! My hour lunch and dinner became half hour breaks. I slept 2-3 hours max at night and each break during the day involved a 15-min cat nap. I've stopped totalling my daily rowing hours as it's silly amounts at this stage.
On Saturday night I ended up on sea anchor and slept a little while a 12 knot northerly pushed me slightly south. I came off it at 3am and had a few failed attempts to get back rowing. My body decided to call an all stop and I slipped into one of the deepest sleeps for about 5 hours with alarms going off all sides.
There is light at the end of the tunnel though and all the weather models are showing the trade winds kicking back in after what's been 10 days of character building stuff. The forecast looks unbelievable now and after that long sleep on Saturday, I’m going to rally here and up my averages a bit. If there are no hiccups again I've a good chance of breaking 50 days which is getting in before midday GMT time on Feb 2nd.
I can't thank people enough for their continued support, I get sent through all the messages and I'm truly humbled. I'm giving this everything I have and then some, I hope you take inspiration from my efforts and whatever it is you are getting up to in your day to day lives get stuck in!!!”

Gavan is raising money for Cancer Care West and Jigsaw and people can donate on his websitewww.gavanhennigan.com

Gavan is an adventurer. This is his career now. He has no corporate sponsorship. His sponsors to date have all been product based and for that he is very grateful. Gavan is looking to act as a brand ambassador and an influencer and he has plenty of life and corporate speaking experience. To hear him is to be in awe. He can offer the complete package to any corporate sponsor willing to financially support him and his adventures.

Follow Gavans journey on his social media pages which are updated daily @soulogav on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

Contact Kevin Thornton for more enquries

hello@gavanhennigan.com

0863571714


#RowGavRow #SouloGavArmy

#AskHenry - Do they use miles, nautical miles or knot(s)?

#AskHenry - Do they use miles, nautical miles or knot(s)?

Gavan has got just under 1000 Nautical Miles to go. Here Henry Lupton explains why they use Nautical Miles and why it is not metric?


While lots of boaty terminology harp back to the days of the British Admiralty who charted much of the world, the infamous Cap’n Bligh having measured Galway bay, the nautical mile is a bit older and is based on something useful rather than some arbitrary distance between two points. One nautical mile equals one minute of latitude. So for every degree (60 minutes) you move north or south you have travelled 60 nautical miles. 

The world that we want to navigate is almost round and round things are easier to measure in angles of degrees and minutes. Its hard to drop measuring posts all over the ocean so figuring out where you are used to involve measuring the angles to various planets and stars at precise times using a sextant and referral to books of data. Its not much different from how your car GPS measures via satellites at various points above us. 

When the 3 dimensional Globe is transferred onto 2D paper it is done by various projections. The projection most used at sea for nautical navigation is the Mercator projection. Imagine wrapping a sheet of paper around the equator and having a light inside the globe. The parallel lines of latitude like the equator and the tropic of cancer and capricorn for instance and the meridians of longitude, with zero degrees passing through Greenwich in London, are projected as straight lines onto the sheet of paper. This projection preserves the angles of the solo rower as they row along their rhumbline from start to finish. The parallel lines of latitude spread further apart as you move from the equator to the poles which is why the land masses look distorted on some maps and charts. In a boat that is pitching and rolling around it is easier if you simply measure distance directly from that side of the chart rather than doing measurements and conversions.

The electronic charts that Gavan uses have been modernised by the likes of our own Marine Institute using very precise instruments (check out  http://www.marine.ie/Home/site-area/data-services/interactive-maps/interactive-maps ) and make navigation easier. However were Doireann to be struck by lightning he could lose his electronics and would resort to the paper charts and compass that he carries to find his way from mid ocean to a safe part of land.

The speed of the boat is referred to in knots or nautical miles per hour. They used to gauge it by throwing a weighted rope with spaced knots over board. An hour glass is spun and the line is thrown overboard and if 4 knots run in the time for the sand to run out means you are doing 4kts.  Modern boats use a spinning paddle wheel or GPS and the nautical mile is now an SI unit based on metres. Gavan relies entirely on GPS so If the Donald decides to play games with the GPS satellites we may have to go look for him! Roll on the EU Galileo satellite system.

1nm = 1.1 statute miles = 1.85 km

Anyone interested in watching the wind where Gavan is right now check it out here... https://www.windytv.com/?26.426,-44.723,

#ROWGAVROW #3 - Update from the Mid Atlantic

#ROWGAVROW #3 - Update from the Mid Atlantic

Gavan is 27 days into the row now. He's covered a distance of nearly 3000 kilometers and he's worked really hard physically and tactically to maintain his position of 1st solo boat and 3rd place overall out of 12 boats. The only two boats ahead of him are two teams of 4 people. Gavan is ahead of all the teams of two and three people and he's ahead of another team of 4. He's got about a days lead (67 miles) on the team trying to catch him. He's also ahead of the other 3 solo rowers and is leading the solo race by over 500 miles. The teams in the race have the advantage of having someone to power the boat 24/7, whereas when Gavan rests, his boat stops. So for him to be in 3rd place is extraordinary! Gavan is doing extremely well and hopes to complete the race in under 52 days which would be a new international course record for a solo rower and a new Irish record.

Gavan has had some very positive interactions  and some not so positive interactions with nature. He has enjoyed a meeting with pods of dolphins who have woken him early in the morning through sonar and nudging his boat Doireann. He has had a close call with a large cargo ship when he was on a collision course. He has had flying fish appear over the boat during sun sets and he has come across the notorious Atlantic gyre. He has been in an actual sand storm! ... the sands from the Sahara desert were blown out onto him and the other competitors in the Atlantic. He has caught fish, met one bird and he has swam in the ocean alone, tied to his boat for fear of losing her in the open seas.

On New Years he turned the lights off on his boat, had a little emotional moment and celebrated the turning of the year under the bright and beautiful Milky Way.

Gavan is coping well considering the physical and mental demands. The winds have been northerly and strong recently and because of his westerly course he is on, the risk of capsizing had been high all last week. Trying to row in those swells is made particularly difficult by the flying oars that were picked up after each and every stroke and thrown back at his face. His hands, wrists and shins have taken a pounding but as he is a trained paramedic, Gavan is looking after the wounds well. Despite the, at times, harsh environment, Gavan has enjoyed surfing the huge swells in his row boat which he has called Doireann, after his niece! Now he is experiencing more changeable weather. The winds have died down and right now he is having to work hard on calm seas, in which he is very exposed to the sun. He is having to monitor his fluid intake meticulously due to the risks of exposure and dehydration. Gavan cannot use an umbrella to take shelter as it is an automatic disqualification as per the rules of Ocean Rowing, so when he is rowing he is exposed to the direct sunlight and the reflective and refractive elements of the sea. Covering up in as option, but then heat becomes an issue over the long periods of rowing. He is rowing naked most days! It's hot and the friction from the salt causes issues with his skin. He's got some nice sheepskin mats to help relieve the friction! He also has over 650 baby wipes on board to ensure his skin remains clean and intact throughout the row. He's got a strict regimen of cleaning himself down after each and every period of rowing. You may have heard that Gavan had an issue with his arm which required him to strap his hand to one of his oars during the week to allow him to row without straining the muscle further. Gavan is mostly eating Kilbeggan porridge oats and Irish Biltong as a lot of other things have been causing him cramps. They are good fuel and easier to digest. 

Mentally, Gavan has proven himself to be firm and resolute in his objectives. He is in a harsh and dangerous environment but has remained calm and he has stuck to his processes. The messages of support he has recieved via email and social media has been unbelievable. Gavan sees all of these message and he is so appreciative of them. He can't always reply though. He has energy to row, eat, look after Doireann and sleep. There's not a lot left for much else after 16 hours of rowing! He is taking it one stroke at a time, one session on the oars at a time. He is looking towards the next way point and doing his best to get there as fast as he can. He has trained hard for this. He has planned meticulously for this. He has made some very good decisions out there alone and he is prepared to suffer for those small gains that keep him ahead of the chasing pack. So far he has pushed his body and mind to the extreme to achieve his goal of not just solo rowing the Atlantic but making a race of it.

Gavan is raising money for Cancer Care West and Jigsaw and people can donate on his website www.gavanhennigan.com

Gavan is an adventurer. This is his career now. He has no corporate sponsorship. He sponsors to date have all been product based and for that he is very grateful. Gavan is looking to act as a brand ambassador and an influencer and he has plenty of life and corporate speaking experience. To hear him is to be in awe. He can offer the complete package to any corporate sponsor willing to financially support him and his adventures.

Follow Gavans journey on his social media pages which are updated daily @soulogav on Twitter and Facebook.

Contact Kevin Thornton for more enquries

hello@gavanhennigan.com

0863571714

Sudocream and baby wipes for the body wash!

Sudocream and baby wipes for the body wash!

Gavan has his photos of his family front and center in his cabin

Gavan has his photos of his family front and center in his cabin

Some items including his grandfather's medal hang from the cabin also

Some items including his grandfather's medal hang from the cabin also

#AskHenry - Water Water Everywhere

#AskHenry - Water Water Everywhere

As Gavan pointed out on TodayFM on Neil Delamare's Sunday Best show, he is quite exposed and the rules prohibit the use of sun shades. He is at the 17 degree line of latitude now, well below the tropic of Cancer. The constant rowing alone dehydrates him but doing so under intense sunlight takes away even more fluid. Combine this with having to rehydrate more than 80% of his food means he easily uses 5 litres of water a day. At this point in the crossing he will have used 25 of the very big bottles of water available in shops. He will need at least that much again. The rules also require him to carry 50L just for for emergency use and he must arrive with those drums still sealed to get a result. Obviously the boats are not big enough to carry that much volume and weight so all the crews rely on desalination units or watermakers for their drinking water. 

Gavan has been lucky to be sponsored by Mactra Marine in the UK who lend a watermaker to one competitor every year. The smallest of these specialist units costs £5000 so this makes Mactra a very significant sponsor for Gavan.

Jim from Mactra handing over the sponsered water maker to Gavan in 2016

Jim from Mactra handing over the sponsered water maker to Gavan in 2016

The watermaker runs off the two 12volt car type batteries aboard Doireann. You read about Gavan’s concern for sunlight to charge these batteries and the main reasons are to make water and to steer the boat. The water works bysucking up water through a hole in the bottom of the boat and then pumps it across a rolled up sheet of membrane that has holes big enough to allow water through but small enough to catch salt. It take huge pressure to force the water across the membrane hence the large power consumption.
You will see a small plastic pipe at Gavan’s feet on his home page. This delivers the fresh drinking water to a 5L drum. You cannot see the tens times amount of water gushing over the side that is consumed to produce pure stuff. It takes about 45 minutes a day to make his water and he tends to do this around midday when the sun is at its strongest for maximum solar charging.

Henry Lupton helping Gavan install the water maker

Henry Lupton helping Gavan install the water maker

In the event that Gavan has a total power failure Mactra have provided a hand operated emergency pump that would allow the production of enough water to survive.

Ironically Gavan cannot simply drink the water from the watermaker. It is actually too good at removing salt and were he to drink it pure he would actually dilute his body’s own salts. So he adds salt tablets back into the water he drinks to make it isotonic. The pure water can be used to reconstitute his freeze dried food and of course he needs a bit to wash the salt from his solar panels and from his now, well publicised, nudie body.

Hats off to Mactra for their huge support.
www.mactramarine.co.uk
@mactrashop

Gavan's Mactra Watermaker is installed in his cabin, one of the safest places on the boat

Gavan's Mactra Watermaker is installed in his cabin, one of the safest places on the boat

One man, one ocean, one boat....and his amazing #Satellitephone

Our latest blog post is by Rowena Hennigan, Gavan's older sister and a member of Team Gav, the support team for Gavan's solo row as part of the Talisker Atlantic Challenge.

 

The new year is upon us and in our modern world we often take for granted being connected at all times; instant messages, posts, emails and tweets. When my younger brother Gavan decided to row an ocean solo, taking part in one of the most dangerous challenges on earth, gosh was I glad for modern communications. Things have really changed since morse code

Gavan is originally from Galway, with roots in Mayo from his mother, an Egan from Castlebar.  Apart from his Irish based family, he has a sister, brother in law and 4 nieces in Bali, Indonesia. The whole family was relieved to learn that as part of the Talisker race rules, he must be accessible via a satellite phone to monitor his safety and performance. (see all the "Modcons" section herehttps://www.taliskerwhiskyatlanticchallenge.com/the-challenge/boats-equipment-and-technology/)

Selfishly, we knew we would get regular updates and possibly (satellite location dependent), they odd text or phone call from him! Three weeks into the race, he is also keeping his family, support team, friends and growing fan base up to date by regularly posting to Twitter, Facebook and Instagram (@soulogav).  It is mainly text-based messages, but he is managing to send the odd image with some beautiful insights into his world on the ocean.

 

During race preparation, Gavan and his support team spent significant time setting up his Social Media channels, testing his satellite equipment and planning how updates would be sent from the middle of the Atlantic ocean. Back in November he wrote about the preparation details in a blog update here: https://www.gavanhennigan.com/blog/2016/11/21/about-time-i-wrote-some-stuff

 

The Talisker Atlantic Challenge race is trackable via YB App and Talisker Race Tracker, where Gavan's fans can track his performance,  see all the race statistics and check out how the competition is faring. Along with Gavan acquiring a host of new fans, he has also encouraged a new community of race "dot watchers"; a term the community has labelled themselves as they watch the dots that represent the boats plotting across the Atlantic course.

Fans can then also comment and show their support with replies on Social Media. You can see a prime example below from Gavan's Mum, Julie showing her encouragement on Instagram.

 

 

Needless to say, suddenly the whole Hennigan/Egan family are massive fans of Satellite Phone technology! I have read up on Iridium and was very impressed to hear they recently supported Sean Burch in his world-record success in Nepal.  Satellite phone technology assists many extreme environment athletes and it is a real reassurance to family and friends of those adventurers around the world. We sleep well at night knowing Gavan is safe and well, progressing in the challenge and following his life's dreams.

 

Follow Gavan on @soulogav and contact Kevin Thornton on kevinbrianthornton@gmail.com / 0863571714 for further details....

#askhenry - Weather

New weather might affect course and decisions.

As the fleet hits the half way point it no longer makes sense to go further south. A weather system north of them is threatening stronger northerly winds over the coming days.

It may be more advantageous to stop than be pushed too far south. This is particularly evident to the Solo rowers like Gavan who rely entirely on the wind when they rest. Crewed boats will have people rowing all the time and can keep the boat moving west.

Normal anchoring isn’t possible in 4000m or water so they rely on slowing the boats with Para or Sea Anchors. This is a big cloth funnel that is about 3m wide narrowing to a 0.5m hole. Its attached by lots of light lines like a parachute. It can be 80m away from the boat so that it sinks into the big ocean swell. Gavan may chose to stop if he is going more south than west when he sleeps or while a weather system passes.Since the tracker just shows a snapshot of the boats every 4 hours you may not see the point stopped but you may see bigger differences in the velocities. Rowers Ark can be seen pointing north last night as they are in due north wind. Their speed is so low that it can be assumed they are on anchor.

Gavan has decided that he will deploy his anchor if he in unable to keep more west than south. So if he cannot go WSW or better he will stop.All eyes on the Low pressure below the Azores. Hopefully it will be short lived and the Trade winds will be back helping him towards Antigua.
Wind can be seen on the race tracker. It needs to be turned on in layers and is easier view on pc than mobile version.

 

 

 

 

#ROWGAVROW2

#ROWGAVROW2

Gavan is now 15 days into his mammoth solo row across the Atlantic. He is having a stellar performance and is holding the third place he attained during the first week of the race. He is ahead of all the Teams of 2 and 3 people and currently sits just behind two teams of 4. Gavan has been regularly speaking to his support crew throughout the past 10 days and here are some of his thoughts so far.

 

Q. Gavan, how are you enjoying the row so far? You’re killing it out there!

A: This must be the longest and grandest race out there. It's just on another level compared to anything else I've done. I've the potential to be out here for months. There could be up to 2 months between the first and last boat. The logistics, planning and cost make this more extreme than anything else I've done but I’m loving every minute of it!

 

Q: It’s Christmas time and you’re headed farther and farther south. What’s it like being out there at this time of year?

 

A: Well firstly, the reason I’m headed south is based on historical weather data and long range forecasting. On balance, there is more wind south of the direct route than along it.  Also, the further I head south and west the warmer it gets so the past week has meant that it’s felt like anything but Xmas. The days of the week are pretty much irrelevant but the guys at home are probably experiencing that at this time of the year too haha! That said, I was rowing with a Christmas hat on Christmas Day and I got in for the traditional Christmas Day Swim to mark the occasion! I also took some time out to make calls to family and friends… some of whom must have thought I was a prank call from India and didn’t answer!

 

Q: How have you found sleeping out there on Doireann? How’s the practical side of the rowing been going for you?

 

A: The cabin here on Doireann is nice and cosy, there's a mattress and I'm usually so knackered from rowing that I sleep well. We’ve had numerous days where we’ve had 5m groundswell and 25 knot winds. A lot of the fleet had never experienced seas like this but I’ve been all over it, catching huge rollers and maxing out at 12 knots flying down the face of these ocean swells, it was hugely exhilarating.

I’ve had a few niggles on the injury front but I’ve been sticking to my exercise routine from Emmett in Galway Bay Physio to keep me in good physical health. I'm managing and treating the cuts on my hands and shins due to the constants banging of the oars on the unstable seas. It's all part of Ocean Rowing! I'm a trained paramedic though and so I'm well able to look after those little issues.

 On the practical side, I look after Doireann and make checks on here routinely day in day out, sunrise, sunset! I've had to be very cautious of the power I'm using and the water supply i have on board. The weather has been stormy and cloudy, so It's not been the best power porducing weather for me and the solar panels! I've also had the Khalima blowing in from the Sahara... a sand storm in the middle of the Atlantic! How weird is that! I've had to be careful with my eyes, my open cuts and again the power as the sun can't get through the hazy sand to easily and as we all know... sand gets EVERYWHERE!

 

Q: You’re in third now and you’re surprising a lot of the dot watchers at home with your impressive performance to date. Have you come across any of the competitors out there at all?

 

A: I saw some of the other boats during the first 6 hours of the race, but since then I've not seen another soul. We have AIS (Automatic Identification Software) on board where boats show up on my chart plotter(GPS) so over the first few days I could see some boats around me. I even contacted some by VHF radio. By now, we are well spread out and I believe the nearest boat to me now is 20 nautical miles. I'm currently punching well above my weight and sitting in 3rd overall with 2 four man boats well ahead of me. I'm tussling with a 3-man boat and there are other 3 man boats behind me. There is a lot of people behind me back home and they are mad for watching the tracker and the updates online. I get fed those messages of support from my team and all those messages keep me going through the dark and lonely nights. There is a support yacht out there somewhere but I've not seen it yet, it could be days away.

 

Q: You’ve literally got a boat load of food out there. How has it been managing the calories and what’s your favourite snack?

A: I've a varied mix of snack foods to go with my dried meals, most packs are different so each day I could pull out a pack with random sweets, protein bars. dried fruit and nuts. My favourite treats are Irish Biltong and Kilbeggan oat biscuits. 

 

Q: Any shocks or surprises out there so far?

A: I was woken up during a nap on the on a few different days by a pod of dolphins. I sleep right at the water line so I could hear their sonar, about 20 of them came by for a play with my boat Doireann, who needs an alarm clock?!? It was flat recently after all the stormy weather and so I got my lanyard on and got in for a swim… I also took the opportunity to clean the hull of any growth that could slow me down. That was a bit surreal! I also got a shock one morning during the week, I was dosing in between rowing intervals and Doireann hit something hard… that’s not supposed to happen out at sea! I leaped out of the cabin and over to see what had happened and to check Doireann for damage. Luckily it was just some Ocean debris. It was solid but not sharp and after a thorough check, I was happy that Doireann was ok. I’ve been on the lookout ever since that and I’m paranoid that something bigger or sharper might bump into us now!

 

Q: Do you want to hear about the news or be kept up to date with the world?

A: Apart from the messages of support I’m not bothered about the News. The only thing I get updates on is the scores from Connacht rugby matches and news about family and friends, apart from that I'm sure the world is getting on fine without me! That said, I was so stoked to hear about the arrival of Ronan and Kari’s twin girls Annabel and Cornelia. They’re still in hospital and I’m thinking about them every day out here! Oh, and congrats to Emmett on the arrival of baby Jonah too!

 

Q: The question that everyone wants to know Gav… how are you going to get the boat home?!

A: I’ve had a lot of people asking me what I’m going to do after this challenge… I've not made the final decision on that but I’m committed to being an adventurer. That’s what I am now. I've realised this was the best decision in my life to do something like this, just yesterday evening as the sun set I could see a convective storm developing way off in the distance. It could have been hundreds of miles away, I felt like I had this entire world to myself so with the freedom this place allows it may not be the last ocean I want to cross, stay tuned! 

 

 

#AskHenry

#AskHenry

Question: How does Gavan steer Doireann as he rows across the Atlantic?

Answer: How Gavan steers (while tweeting) is an important question as most failures of Ocean rowing crossings are due to problems with the steering system.

Doireann has a big rudder about 1m long and half a metre wide.  Its super lightweight but very strong Carbon fibre with a wing like profile. A 50mm stainless steel pole is imbedded in the rudder blade and protrudes up through the bottom of the boat into the little cabin at the back of the boat. Then a tiller arm is attached to the top at right angles. Worst case you can reach in here and move the arm side to side to steer the boat.

On Doireann (and every boat will be a bit different) the arm is attached to a rope. One end goes out the left hand side the other the right, out along the boat to the front of the two rowing positions where Gav does his thing. He can take the rope in his hands and steer the boat when he is not rowing. This happens a lot in big surf where the oars can get in the way but where steering is really important for max speed and to avoid sliding sideways and being rolled over . He usually stands facing forward for this. Its a buzz and a great rest from slogging on the oars for hours on end. It can however be very tiring and when faced with 60 kmph winds for long periods its not a full time proposition.

Gavan is one of two boats trying out a new foot steering system this year. This is how coxless rowing boats on the river or in the Olympics are steered. In their case the rudder is 50mmx50mm but Gavan has a relatively big craft to move. When he is rowing his feet are fixed into straps just like rowing machines at the gym. The right hand one can pivot under the ball of the foot and a little arm extends from the toe where the left and right ropes can be clamped in place. So he can swing his heel left and right to pull the rope over and back. This bit of kit was only added at the last minute so Gavan has had no time to test it out. So far he is happy with it. It has one big advantage, it allows you to turn off the third method of steering and one of the most important pieces of kit on the bot, the autopilot.
All the boats must be capable of being steered by an autopilot. Its obligatory and its failure effectively doubles the time to cross. Even the pairs, trios and fours. All boats have three of them on board.

 


So it is a kit of electrics and mechanics in a waterproof box about 400mm long and 100x50mm across- a length of 3 be 2. Inside is a long threaded rod attached to a 12v motor, electronics and a tiny electronic compass. This is placed in the little cabin at the back and can be snapped on and off the arm in place of the rope. When its turned on you can see your compass heading. you can simply press a button to keep going in that direction or you can connect to a GPS and follow a route. Normally you snap it in place and tell it to go the direction you are travelling. Then when the wind and waves swing you off that course the compass spots it and tell the little motor to push the rod in or out and bring it back on course. 
It means Gavan can just keep rowing without adjust his foot or have to pull harder on one or other side. More importantly it means Gavan can keep going in the right direction when he stops rowing for food or sleep or sunbathing….
Its a critical bit of kit though and this morning it is top of his worry list. He is just into his first bit of high wind big sea rowing. You cannot row and may need to lock yourself inside for much of it. As such you really depend on the autopilot. Unfortunately we had trouble with them while preparing the boat and it locked to one side while he was asleep in the font cabin and could not hear it struggling. It was replaced but we did not have time to put in some limit switches to protect it from overheating. A second one developed a compass fault and needed to be replaced just before travel. Ideally they would be tested and calibrated for different sea states so he could use on for big rough seas like today (he is in 65 Kmph wind as I write at 11am sat) and another for calm stuff. You might also swop them to reduce the burden on the motor.
We need to keep our fingers crossed for this little babies. Most get christened are are consider full crew members on a boat! If they dont work, Gavan’s tweeting gets curtailed.

#AskHenry

#AskHenry

The first of a number of insights from one of Gavan's mentors, Henry Lupton. Here Henry explains just what the VMG is on the tracket app when following Gavan.

The red line is the rhumb line or shortest distance from start to finish. It is curved because, like airline routes, the shortest distance is a curve northwards (in the northern hemisphere) and it's shown on a two dimensional map or chart.  They go at this time of the year because the sea temperature has dropped below 26 degrees which is the minimum needed for a hurricane to form. They go from the canaries because the prevailing wind is NE in this area just as it is SW around Ireland. The prevailing wind or Trade Winds have been used since Colombus went from La Gomera because most boats can't go directly into the wind.

 


The reason they have gone south of the shortest line is that over the years it has been shown where the highest probability of favourable wind blows in a given area in the ocean. Gavan has chosen a strategy to go quite far South. He is better to go wide early on and then close in on the end point later.


The VMG figure on the leaderboard is Velocity Made Good. This can be confusing.  It is not actual boat speed. If the end point is west of him and he is travelling south west then only part of his boat speed is in direction directly towards the finish. So he could be doing 4 knots boat speed south west but his VMG might be 2.5kts towards the ultimate endpoint.  If he was doing 10knots towards Africa he would have a VMG of -10kts. So the speed only equals VGM if he is pointing directly at the end point.

 

Peak Dynamics Interview

Peak Dynamics Interview

Gavan Hennigan in conversation with Sandy Loder, Director of Peak Dynamics

This article was originally published on the Peak Dynamics website http://bit.ly/rowgavrowPD on November 30th.

Gavan is currently undertaking a 5,000km solo row across the Atlantic Ocean in December. It will be yet another experience that will test him to the limit, requiring vast reserves of mental and physical strength. Gavan is a highly qualified commercial diver who has spent a large part of the past ten years either working 8 hour days on the sea floor in the North Sea oil fields or sitting in a decompression chamber on a ship recovering before his next shift. This routine goes on for three weeks at a time.

It is hard to square up this alpha male image with the backstory of his life so far. The son of an alcoholic father, Gavan’s teenage years were marked by serious alcohol and drug abuse that had kicked in by the time he turned 16.

“Pretty much as soon as I started drinking alcohol, initially to get more confidence, it was heavy bingeing from day one. The first night I drank heavily, I blacked out and it went on from there.”

Deeply unhappy as a teenager, he had a tumultuous time growing up with his father and was struggling to cope with the realisation that he was gay.

“It was a struggle to reveal my true feelings for sure and I was just a raging, angry mess.”

Gavan, now 35, is now taking part in the world’s toughest rowing race, rowing solo from La Gomera to the Antigua. The race started on 14th December and could take him up to three months to complete.

It is a far cry from those wayward teenage years.

“After I got clean in my early 20s, I started surfing and snowboarding and that developed into doing more extreme sports.”

I first met Gavan in March 2016 at GSK in West London where we were doing some cognitive assessments on him. He had just finished second in the Yukon Arctic Ultra and was about to depart on a solo traverse of Lake Baikal in Siberia - a 700km trek which he completed in just 17 days.

What was your first extreme adventure or race?

My first race was over 350 miles in the ‘6633 Arctic Ultra’ (@6633ArcticUltra), which they say is one of the toughest, coldest, windiest ultra-distance footraces on the planet. It has an extremely low completion rate. In its 8-year history, only 20 people, including myself have finished it. I completed it in 7 ½ days, pulling all my food and clothing in a pulk behind me.

Apart from the freezing conditions, what makes the 6633 race so tough are the long straight icy roads. The same roads you see on Ice Road Truckers. It was a real mental race due to the monotony.

How do you deal with this monotony?

I break the race down into blocks. In this case, each stage was about 50 miles long, which took me about 12 hours to complete. So I decided to stop every 2 hours. At each break, I would give myself a job to do – make a meal or eat a particular bit of food or do my personal ablutions.

Thinking ahead to this row. One of my biggest fears is the monotony. The storms do not worry me as much as the quiet days when the monotony could set in and my mind could drift off the race. I know once I am in it (the race), I am in it. I don’t give myself a choice. I know I will change and adapt over the first week of the race. That is the person that will get across the Atlantic and not the person sitting here talking to you.

Where does your mind go on these races?

I listen to music and podcasts, but I also go off into a fantasy world. I have a lot of opportunities to think about things but then I do come back and stay focused on what I am meant to be doing. It is definitely a real battle.

As you and I have discussed together over the past few months in preparation for the row, I will try not to let my head go too far ahead from the present. When I start to think how far it is to go or how long I have left, I start to lose my mind and focus. Keeping my mind and body in the same place, in the present, is the real challenge. It is natural to want to get out of there when on these extreme adventures.

How did you come to doing your first extreme adventure?

I had been doing a lot of mountaineering and snowboard expeditions on top of the diving which was my everyday job. When it came to the 6633 Arctic Ultra, I decided to stretch myself and have a go at one of the longest and toughest footraces in the world without any build-up races. Sitting in my decompression chamber, I read a Red Bull article (@RedBullUK) about the race. The cold really appealed to me. I just decided I was going to sign up for it. People say commercial diving is a tough job, but I wanted to try and test myself with something else. The Arctic Ultra was a test. They told me that its biggest challenge was the mental hardship. This appealed to me and that is why I went on to do the Yukon race and Siberia and now the Atlantic.

What drives you on in these races and adventures?

There is probably a bit more depth to this question. When I look back at my past and where I have come from with regards to drug and alcohol addiction, there is definitely a hint of going from one extreme to the other. Going from an underachieving low self-esteem teenager, I really wanted to prove to myself that I could do this stuff. I want to embrace these new challenges. I have the belief that I can complete something like this solo row. I am now able to take on these huge projects and organise them, prepare for them and complete them. Just believing I am tough enough to finish them is something really important to me.

Why do you do it?

Success – everybody has his or her version of success in their lives. The whole monetary and material gain to me is not success but for others it is. Success to me is being able to do things which I frankly see are bigger than myself. Before I enter this rowing race, I did not think it was possible. It is only through the preparing for it and training for it that I have had the belief I can do it. Taking on big things.

So you are coming to the end of all your preparation and training for the Talisker Atlantic Challenge (@TaliskerRace)You will row more than 3000 nautical miles across the world’s second largest ocean, the Atlantic, leaving La Gomera and heading west to Antigua. Once you exit the safety of the La Gomera’s harbour, you will be on your own on the vast ocean and at the mercy of the elements. So how do you prepare for your first ever rowing race?

Since Siberia in March, I have used most of my life savings to buy a race boat. I have had to learn so many new things. I am not a sailor. I am not a rower. I have limited engineering and technical knowledge. The boat has a lot of electricals on it. The preparation has been a huge learning curve, which I have really enjoyed.

Having never rowed an ocean, it is going into the unknown and doing what I can to learn as much about the boat as I can. Learning about the equipment; how to repair stuff; how to trouble shoot equipment, buying spares and prepping all the kit on board.

Have you ever entered a rowing race?

No, this is my first rowing race!

What excites you about this race?

Just getting away onto the ocean, being on my own. Once I am out there, there is no turning back. I will have to deal with what comes my way, to get to the other side of the Atlantic. What excites me is being cast into that arena and I am going to have to excel. I will be forced to cope and that is what happened when I went to Siberia. I was in the thick of it on Lake Baikal with a lot of decision-making, exactly what you had prepared me for. I do not feel I am pushed in my normal environment in the way I am out there on my own. I believe I come into my own when taking part in these adventures. The ocean, the storms excite me, the whole wildlife that I could potentially see, the sunrises, the sunsets. Just becoming really attuned to the ocean environment.

What are you nervous about this race?

Being a couple of days out into the ocean and realising I have forgotten something. The lists have been endless. I have tried to get my head around everything that I might need for this challenge. I am worried about something going wrong with the equipment; not completing the race. That is a bit irrational, however. I have tried to leave no stone unturned. Henry, my technical adviser, has even designed an emergency rudder plan for me, which can be made from various bits of equipment I have on board.

Why have you used Peak Dynamics?

Initially, I found your decision-making assessment fascinating. I found it had an uncanny resemblance to myself. I enjoyed the evaluation and your help planning a performance strategy for me. I am aware of my emotions and mental state. I do question myself and my behaviours quite a lot of the time. The support that you gave me when I was in Siberia, I found incredibly grounding. That is why I want you to be the rock for me when I cross the Atlantic. Between your expertise and your military background, there are a lot of practical solutions to what I am doing.

What has been your typical day preparing for this race?

5.00am                              Wake Up

5.30am                              Get on Concept 2 rowing machine for 2 hours

7.30am                              Breakfast and wash

9.00am                              Admin for such as social media, ordering equipment, sorting kit

11.00am                            Head to the boat and do some work on it such as the communications

12.30pm                            Lunch down at the harbour

2.00pm                              Go for a 2-hour row out on the Atlantic

4.00pm                              Wash down and tidy up the boat

5.00pm                              Go to the gym to do a strength and conditioning session

7.00pm                              Dinner

8.00pm                              Fall into bed

What lessons did you learn from the Yukon?

I know I can push myself a lot more than I think I can. There is a lot more in my tank. I do not need a lot of sleep. I feel the more fatigued and tired I get, the more I enjoy the experience. The deeper I get into it, the more I savour it. Typically, around day 4 and day 5. After I get used to the sleep deprivation, I get into a routine.

What lessons did you learn from Siberia?

The traverse of Lake Baikal was more of a day to day routine due to the limited daylight hours. Routine was hugely important and one that I stuck to. I could be mindless in that routine. The alarm went off at 4am. I would then light the stove to melt the snow for cooking and drinking. I had the tent down and packed by 6.30am just as the sun rose. It was like that every morning. During the day, I ran or walked depending on the conditions. In the evening, for the last hour or two, I was scanning the horizon looking for a suitable campsite. When I had found somewhere suitable, I had the tent up and shovelled some ice and snow next to the tent ready for the next morning’s cooking. I was fed and watered by 8pm and then pretty well ready to go to sleep. There were some days when I barely did 10 miles in 10 hours, whereas when the weather was good, I was doing about 40 miles on an average day.

The row will be all about adaptability as there are a whole load more of uncontrollables.

What are your future ambitions?

I would like to row my boat back from New York to my home in Ireland. The Pacific is appealing. On land, I would love to do the Yukon Arctic Ultra race again. I would love to do the North Pole in the winter, but I think North Pole adventures are probably over.

What can we all learn from what you are doing?

I had such fear over the basics of life and a really low self-esteem when I was younger. What I have shown to myself and hopefully others is that you can come from a pretty bleak and desperate situation and actually achieve some amazing things such as these big adventures I am now doing. You just need to have the commitment and drive. In the past, that would not have been my natural state. I was not born an adventurer or explorer. I am really keen to use my profile to help raise awareness on mental health issues in young people today.

What message would you have for a 16-year-old Gavan Hennigan now?

Whatever is going through your head – don’t believe it. Don’t define yourself by what you think of yourself now. Your horizon is so much bigger than you think it is. You can literally go out into the world and do anything you want, whether that is a college degree or a sporting success. There is a massive menu of things you can choose to do.

How is a teenager going to do that?

You need a plan, but above all else, you need the passion and drive. You need a real want to do it.

Thank you, Gavan. If somebody wants to follow you in this race, where should they look?

Go to my website: http://www.gavanhennigan.com. I also have a twitter account @soulogav

If you are interested in using our proven Olympic Gold-Medalling winning 'What It Takes To Win' strategy for yourself, your business or any elite athletes, then please contact us.

This article was originally published on the Peak Dynamics website http://bit.ly/rowgavrowPD on November 30th.

#ROWGAVROW1

#ROWGAVROW1

The first of a series of updates by Kevin Thornton on the progress of Gavan as he solo rows his way across the Atlantic Ocean as part of the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge

Who needs an alarm clock when a pod of dolphins decide to swing by & have a play with Doireann.”

After an epic past 30 hours of rowing in high seas, Gavan was in fine form this morning. Not only had he overcome his biggest test on this epic challenge, his beloved Connacht Rugby had scored a last minute try to defeat Wasps! He's now recovering from the thrill of surfing his row boat Doireann out on the high seas in the Atlantic Ocean on swells of 30ft whilst he and Doireann reached speeds of 13 knots. Recovery involves a series of critical checks and assessments of not only the boat, but his body and mind... more of that later.

For those of you unaware, 12 teams set off across the Atlantic in the world’s toughest row last Wednesday, December 14th.  There were 4 solo competitors and the other 8 entrants consisting of a variety of teams of between 2 -4 members. Gavan was one of those solo entrants. At the race start Gavan commented:

“A 5,000km long row is the equivalent of going around Ireland three times. I’ve worked out it’ll involve at least 1.5million strokes and I’m hoping to do it under 60 days. To do that, I’ll need to row 100km a-day. That is what I have trained for. That is what I am prepared for and that is what I am ready for. Bring it on!”

Gavan is in 4th place currently. He is clear of the rest of the solo competitors, clear of the teams of two and mixing it with the teams of 3 and 4 persons.

Since the start, Gavan has kept us updated through twitter, texts and emails and what a journey he’s had thus far. It was a quiet first few days on the ocean and Gavan tried to settle into the challenge after a hugely emotional departure from la Gomera, where a host of family and friends had gathered to see all the competitors off.

 “Sun just gone down, 1st few hours on the oars done. Not ideal winds just yet. 10 knt NW. Huge emotion leaving la gomera today”

“Day 2 here. Breaking myself in. Fickle winds ystrdy & this morning but clear of the Tenerife wind shadow & flying! This morning was a slow grind but now the winds have really kicked in, averaging over 4knots.”

“I've rowed alot in the last 18hrs,some great winds out of N/NE & I was surfing the wind chop getting over 3 knots.”

It’s been quite a contrast in environments for Gavan. He went from a very busy, safe, open, and supported base in la Gomera to a very quiet, potentially dangerous, unsupported and enclosed space on Doireann in the Atlantic Ocean. It’s taking time to adjust but he’s enjoying the experience and keeping himself busy rowing and doing maintenance work on the boat. Things such as making water from sea water, cleaning the solar panels and running through his list of critical equipment checks along with listening to podcasts and his beloved tunes. He has to be careful though as power is limited. His only supply comes from the solar panels. If it’s an overcast day… power becomes an issue and he has to be mindful of that.

 

Sunset Gav

First of many of theses epic sunsets. It's been a hard few days adjusting to ocean life but getting easier

 

Prior to the race start a strong favourable weather pattern was predicted to begin on Friday the 16th and carry through for 30 hours or so. Gav knew this and planned to be ready for it. On Day three that predication came through and winds were well and truly with him. Gavan took full advantage, covering over 60nm in one day.

Into day 3 >60nm in the last 24 hours! So far so good, been a hard few days adjusting to ocean life but it's getting easier. Still can't believe the start how intense the build up and to finally set off was such a relief yet a stark reminder that I'm going to be on my own for a very long time!

Gav’s surfing and diving experience added to his meticulous preparation, drive and sheer guts drove him on through the battering wind and rain. Time and again he scaled the sheer gradient, popped over the top of the fluid mountains and skied down the slopes on the far side. Due to the unpredictability of the waves and the currents within them, Gav has an autopilot which he can use to help steer the boat. However, using the autopilot in such conditions can put too much strain on the device. While Gav was enjoying the speed he was getting he became concerned about the autopilot. He made the call to turn his off and relied upon his skiing and surfing skills to navigate his way through the storm.   

His mentor Henry Lupton has been in contact with Gavan on daily basis and gave us some information on what we were seeing on the tracker through the storm and the concerns he had during that time.

 “You may have seen some of the boats putting out drogues or swinging right around in directions if they deploy the sea anchor to sit it out or to get some sleep. The risk is if the autopilot doesn't keep you with the wind the boat will go sideways and roll over. It's a balancing act now between keeping fresh and getting the most from the wind while being careful not to break bits or tire himself. I'm expecting the YB tracker will show a few slowing a lot to ride this wind out. I anticipate Gav having a ball tearing down waves munching on billtong !”

Sandy Loder from Peak Dynamics has been working with Gavan on his mental preparation and his performance preperation for this row and shared some of the advice he gave Gavan these past few days.

 “He needs to be as efficient as possible. Use the surfing to conserve energy, yet maintain high speed. So he probably won't get much sleep. He must keep eating even when busy.”

His drive and determination through that period has helped him take advantage of a tricky situation and he has leaped forward  and is now mixing it with the teams at the front of the race. Sandy is happy with the start that Gavan has made to the race but knows there is a lot yet to come!

If he can attain a good position in the first week, then get some recovery, he is ready to make a move if any of the boats start to catch or pull away from him. He has done really well to now , but he has many days left.”

 “Tunes on full blast! y'all better be dot watching!”

And dot watching we have! We’ll leave you with a tweet from Gav and ask you to stay tuned here or follow @soulogav on social for updates on his journey!

There has been huge interest online for Gavan’s journey and you can be part of the dot watching family by logging into…

http://core.rock7.com/talisker2016

contact hello@gavanhennigan.com or Kevin Thornton on 0863571714 for any enquire

About Time I Wrote Some Stuff

About Time I Wrote Some Stuff

Final job on Doireann was to apply a coat of anti foul paint to her hull. Henry lining up he laser pointer with the ever present Yoda watching on.

Final job on Doireann was to apply a coat of anti foul paint to her hull. Henry lining up he laser pointer with the ever present Yoda watching on.

Been an age since I did some typing on here. To say i've been a bit busy is an understatement. It's just over 3 weeks until the start of the 3,000 mile Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge and 9 days until I depart for La Gomera. I keep getting asked am I excited and to be honest I haven't really connected with the whole thing. I'm sure it's going to get a whole lot realer once I set foot on La Gomera. I've been preparing mentally in my own way which is alot of statements rolling around inside my head like 'You have no legitimate reason not to be rowing'. Physically i'm feeling strong and fit, i've kept my training load high but more importantly i'm injury free and I plan to be well rested and ready to get stuck in come December 14th. My friend and Physio Emmet at Galway Bay Physio has kept me on the straight and narrow in the lead up, he's also been down to the boat to see the space I'm working with to do some basic mobility and stretching exercises. Weight gain has been fun, I'm upto 85kg which is 10kg extra in the last 8 months. The most important countdown at the moment for me is when I get away from the Concept 2 indoor rower. Man I hate that f**king thing. I've really struggled some days getting on it and staying on it for hours at a time. 

My boat Doireann is currently shipping down to the Canaries, I drove her over a couple of weeks ago to Rannoch (where she was built) to be shipped. There was a final flap to make sure 100% everything was packed and sorted. My friends Henry and Marina were on hand to help with lots of little bits done and dusted. With their sailing expertise they were able to suggest alot of little things I hadn't thought of like a Lee Cloth, which is like a guard to stop falling out of a bunk, that will keep me snug in against the bulkhead of the boat. Every bit of food is packed in there, the water maker is working and ready to go. I'll only have a bag with some additional items with me heading for La Gom.

Doireann sat ready with the other boats ready to ship.

Doireann sat ready with the other boats ready to ship.

Today I just did some final testing on my sat phone and comms. A Lot of folk are wondering how the can follow me and it's pretty simple, just keep an eye on here and all my social media channels. To explain the comms, the easiest way for me to let you know whats happening out there is via a text message on my sat phone which automatically posts to my Twitter and Facebook. These will be daily if not multiple times a day. Unfortunately I won't be able to see your replies and mentions as it's just one way traffic. If you don't have Facebook you will still be able to see the tweets as they'll be incorporated into the main page of my website once I get going. Every couple of days I'll be sending a longer message and hopefully a pic to my good friend Kev Thornton who will be managing my accounts, he'll post that up across all channels including my Instagram and add it to a weekly accumulation of blog posts. Pretty simple right? Not really, just figuring out and getting the comms working has been time consuming. The emailing works off a special router installed inside the boat and a compression email from a dial up connection. It will cost probably €10 to send an email and picture, so you better like and share the bejaysus out of it or else! I'll also do a pinned post with the link to the tracking website which will be the fun part of watching a small dot move very slowly across a map over 2 months!.

This is what the tracking will look like, a fully interactive map with leader board and info on speed,distance and position.

This is what the tracking will look like, a fully interactive map with leader board and info on speed,distance and position.

Tomorrow night Tuesday 22nd I'm having a send off in the Salthill Hotel from 6pm onwards. I'm really looking forward to it but also scary knowing people are coming to say good luck. I'll be running through some slides and trying to answer peoples questions before they've asked them! Having had a million different questions thrown at me about all facets of the row I'll be armed. Joanne Murphy will be on hand to MC and there will be drinks and snacks. More info here - https://www.facebook.com/events/998307180269164/

 

 

What Would Ragnar Do?

What Would Ragnar Do?

I was invited to the GSK Human Performance Lab in London earlier in the year for some baseline physical testing. It was through my close friend Dr. Barry O'Neill. He asked me to also do a judgement test via a company called Peak Dynamics. I had just arrived back from Canada after the Yukon Arctic Ultra - a 300 Mile winter ultra marathon and I had 3 weeks before heading to Siberia to cross Lake Baikal. I took the test before I went to London, then when I was at the lab, I sat down with Sandy Loder of Peak Dynamics to have a chat about the results.

The test wasn't really a test, it was two sets of bizarre phrases that you arrange in what you think is the most important to the least important. The creator of it won a noble prize. It can't be gamed and it will give you a full and uncanny breakdown of your strengths and weaknesses in relation decision making. The index helps to identify blind spots and biases. I believe this process was the defining factor for my success in completing the Lake Baikal expedition. I sucessfully traversed the entire frozen lake on foot solo over 17 days covering over 700km.

From my initial test I scored very highly on being self driven/self motivated but scored below par in self concept/role satisfaction. Which means that my balance of judgement was way off. In my sort of situations this could mean life or death. As an example I could be climbing a mountain and I could be so focused on reaching the summit that i'd ignore the warnings of avalanche or weather risk. This was also due to fact that I just coming from a race organised Ultra Marathon where I could push very hard and still be very close to help should things get bad. Going to Siberia was 100% on my own and I had to make good decisions in order to complete the expedition safely.

Typical Lake Baikal camp site, this night temps dropped to close to -40c 

Typical Lake Baikal camp site, this night temps dropped to close to -40c 

When i was in Siberia both my stoves broke. I had to ask for help and get replacements early on in the expedition. I lost my unsupported status but it didn't matter in the grand scheme of things. I was safe and I had taken a step back and made a good decision. The next defining moment came when I reached about the half way mark after a very hard 8 days on the ice. I had been putting in multiple 60km days in extreme winds to make up ground for when I was stalled getting the stoves sorted. I was also low on trail snacks, I was eating more to deal with the demands i was putting on my body and everything was compounding. So I made the decision to take a night off the ice in a home stay to gather myself and dry some kit. My sleeping bag and tent were frozen solid. Beyond the half way point on the lake there was no towns or villages until the very end of the lake in the north. So I was going to be hundred's of kilometers from any assistance. 

Burnt foot 

Burnt foot 

This was a key vital decision I had to make. All the testing that Sandy does on other athletes and extreme adventurers leads to poor judgement under fatigue. So to make this good decision was important and it helped me move on the next day slighty refreshed but in a much better position mentally to finish the expedition. Most people take the easy route in life, endurance athletes want to do hard things, to suffer and be pushed to their limit, but this can be our down fall. Going off the ice for one night I somehow rationalised that I was taking the easy route, but in fact it was the smart thing to do. Learning this balance is key for me especially for the upcoming row.

I have always defined myself as an all or nothing kind of guy, go hard or go home sort of mentality. But I'm having to redefine all this. Learning to redirect my efforts in potentially life or death situations is of the upmost importance. Again this was tested last week on a training row off the west coast of Ireland. I spilled boiling water on my foot, in a bad spot that was affected when I rowed. I had to call a friend of a friend to come tow me into the island I was headed for a few miles away. I initially cursed myself for my stupid mistake. In the past I've always allowed myself a sort of grace period when a mistake is made, but thats even under review now. I am trying to be less reactionary, so i can make good decisions. Burning up energy foolishly giving myself a hard time achieves nothing. 

 

Project managing the row has been one of the most challenging things i've ever done. The whole thing is so involved. From the paperwork admin to the boat and equipment on it to having 90 days of food broken down into 5,000 calories a day. All the PR work I'm doing to gain sponsorship. Then juggling all that with training up to 3 times a day. It's probably been the most stressful time of my life. In the last review of the judgement index I have tried to gain more structure over my day to take away the stress of being in constant reaction. To make a better plan of my day and allocate my time efficiently. So far I'm not doing very good with that to be honest. I like to go with flow and do things as they come up. But with the amount of cogs in this wheel I need to have a better picture of where I'm at. Otherwise I'm just spinning plates and not getting a clear picture of where I'm at, therefore causing more stress.

Lesson for the week - 'Listen to all feedback, but take action selectively' - One of my other blind spots that came from the judgement index that I've been working on was that I was not inclined to listen to others and I still don't! But I do receive feedback and comments from many people here and there. I am extremely grateful for anyones advice, input or opinion surrounding anything be it the row or personal. But I can't take action on everything or else I'd be a right mess. I look to myself ultimately to make the right decision but I selectively will seek out those I trust to guide me in the right way. A good example of this is my tattoos, I have several and one extremely large one that covers alot of the right hand side of my body. I have never asked anyone what they thought of them, nor did I ask someones opinion on what to get and where. These sorts of decisions are the easy ones for me, but I have to wisely recognise situations where I need help and not be afraid to ask for it.