First month review
01 Feb 2010 22:37 GMT
Starting almost a month late the Atlantic Rowing Race 09 has been as captivating and addictive to follow as any other. After a suitable weather window allowed the fleet to leave La Gomera all crews made their way safely out of port and towards Antigua, in the hope of breaking several records along the way. Now, after nearly a month at sea there has been just one official retirement, but all crews are still on their way to Antigua, which is a record in itself.The first few weeks saw ideal conditions for rowing, with a following wind and predominantly small seas. In that time a surprise leader in the form of solo rower Charlie Pitcher lead the fleet with his uniquely designed boat. Following him, Karukera and QBE Insurance Challenger have led the pair’s class, with Vivaldi (Rames Dames) leading Mission Atlantic in the fours. Throughout the first couple of weeks, crews were able to adapt to their new environments and surroundings. There were regular reports of close encounters with ships – for which all crews know the standard protocol and whilst rowing most crews have now seen the beauty that comes with ocean rowing – the wildlife that typically follows the boats, including sharks, whales and dolphins and the moon and stars that illuminate the ocean’s surface during a calm nights rowing.However, all those pleasant images had been cast aside for the last week as crews battled with head winds and high seas, having to make use of their para anchors and safety equipment to minimise lost ground. Crews make on average just 50nm to the finish during the last 7 days. This, besides the psychological impact to the crews, has put several records in doubt including the Women’s pair record and the Father and Son record. Thankfully the last 24 hours has seen the weather reverse, with crews taking in their equipment and continuing to row towards Antigua. The forecast is set to provide the fleet with Easterly winds for at least the next week; several crews should pass the half way point of the race in this time.Finally, Britannia III the 12 man record attempt diverted their finish position to Bridgetown, Barbados after 2 weeks to give themselves a better chance at securing the record. Sadly though they now almost 300nm behind the current record, but they will soon join the small group of adventurers that row unassisted across an ocean.