Before we’re allowed to leave La Gomera, race organisers Atlantic Campaigns quite rightly insist that we do all sorts of courses so that we’re as safe as we can possibly be out on the ocean. These include Sea Survival, First Aid, VHF Radio and Navigation.
Navigation is interesting as it’s one of those skills which we’ll use a good deal more when we’re training than during the actual race. Rowing off the coast of the UK, it’s clearly vital to know the location of hazards, the depth of water at high tide and how far we are from rocks. At certain points, being ½ mile out in our calculations could make the difference between clear water and an uncomfortable landing.
Once we’re out of La Gomera, however, and until we get close to Antigua, being 10 miles off course will make very little difference to anyone.
Which is why our rowing training tends to be much more technical and navigational than the actual race will ever be – you don’t get many cliff faces looming out of the gloom at you 1000 miles of the west coast of Africa.
Talking of training … we had our second weekend of 2018 out on the boat at Easter and the weather was unnecessarily spiteful: bitterly cold, biting winds and driving rain accompanied us pretty much from start to finish. As a result, we spent a good deal of time learning how to move about and handle the boat in trying conditions rather than laying down a massive mileage.
It’s all part of the process of course but we hope that we won’t be needing quite so much warm kit for the race itself as we did off Mersea Island in April. Although we are proud to have maintained our record of bringing rain to every training session we’ve ever done.