‘Safety remains paramount’, say rowers Roz Savage and Andrew ‘Mos’ Morris
as they prepare to set off on epic 2,200-mile expedition
Monday (14) now seems earliest possible departure date, say weather advisers
Icebergs, high ocean winds and treacherous weather conditions off the east coast of Canada have today delayed the launch of a world record attempt by two British rowers to cross the North Atlantic.
Cheshire-born Roz Savage and Andrew Morris, from Nottinghamshire, are in Newfoundland, preparing to depart on an epic 2,200-mile voyage, which will earn them a place in the Guinness Book of Records as the first mixed pair to row the route.
It will also be the first time in history that rowers have crossed the Atlantic and continued their journey all the way to London. Savage and Morris plan to row up the Bristol Channel and the River Thames, arriving in the capital in time for the opening of the 2012 Olympic Games.
Weather experts advising their expedition, named The OAR Project (www.oar2012.com), now say the earliest possible departure date is likely to be Monday (May 14).
Failing to hide their disappointment at today’s delay, the two rowers were philosophical about the meteorological warnings.
Roz Savage, 44, a clergyman’s daughter, who stands just 5 ft 3 ins tall and weighs only nine stone, said: “We need a little bit of west in the wind to help us clear dry land, and relatively light winds while we cross the notorious Grand Banks, where waves reaching the sudden shallows of the Continental Shelf can pile up into rough and messy sea conditions.
“For now the extra time on land is welcome, but if we are to arrive in London in time for the Olympics, we won’t want to wait for too long. Safety remains paramount, so we won’t leave until and unless the conditions are right. Better to arrive late than not at all.”
Speaking today from a vantage point overlooking St John’s Harbour, Newfoundland, crewmate Andrew Morris, 48, said: “We’re looking at having to face icebergs when we first set out. More significant are the ‘bergy bits’, lumps of ice floating just beneath the surface of the water that won’t be visible to us at night. At the moment the wind is also blowing the wrong way. Until the weather improves to a point where it is safe for us to depart, we’ll be staying on dry land.”
“When I arrived in St John’s, it was snowing and sleeting, with cloud level down to 60 feet. The weather is important but so is the water. If you go into the water at this temperature, there isn’t long to get back in the boat. We’ll be tied onto the boat at all times and are taking full survival suits as a safety precaution.”
Andrew added: “Roz and I are philosophical about this delay but we have to trust the judgement of the professionals in our team advising us on the conditions out there. While we wait, we are using the time to eat well and get as much sleep as we can, in the knowledge that the weeks ahead will surely make severe demands on our bodies and our stamina levels. We’re both looking forward to the trip enormously.”
The icebergs in Newfoundland will dwarf the duo’s boat, named Bojangles, when it takes to the water. It measures just 24 feet long and was delivered to Newfoundland by OAR Project sponsors DHL, the global courier service.
Many of their fans and supporters, equally disappointed by the setback, have signed up to “follow the journey” via an interactive map that has been specially set up, and which allows people to track the position and latest statistics: https://olympicatlanticrow.co.uk/follow-the-oar.
Roz Savage later confirmed: “We currently do not have a confirmed departure date, but are unlikely to leave before next Monday at the earliest. Brisk winds from an unhelpful quarter will keep us in St John’s for a few days yet.”
Savage, and Morris, a father-of-two from Nottinghamshire, will brave perilous submerged icebergs, 30-foot whales, hurricane-force storms, thick fog, giant supertankers and 40-foot waves – all in an historic attempt to cross the treacherous North Atlantic Ocean.
The pair’s expedition motto is “Best of British”, which is part of a Foreign and Commonwealth Office campaign designed to promote all things British in the year of the Olympics and the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. For more than eight weeks, the rowers will call a cramped, 24-foot, Kevlar Carbon foam rowing boat their home. They will row and sleep alternately around the clock, two hours on, two hours off, for 60 days in a bid to become the first male-female mixed-gender team ever to row across the North Atlantic.
No stranger to danger or taking her life in her own hands, Savage, despite her slight, diminutive physique – the opposite of what you’d expect from an international rowing athlete – is Britain’s most famous ocean rower and environmental campaigner, already a multi Guinness World Record holder, and the first woman in the world to row three oceans: the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian oceans.
Together with Andrew Morris, known as “Mos” to his friends, a businessman from Newark, Notts, who is also an experienced rower as well as a motor racing enthusiast, she is due to set off from Newfoundland, on the East coast of Canada, rowing more than 2,000 miles and charting a course due east, heading for Bristol. Arriving on Britain’s west coast, in a unique and unusual last leg of their voyage, they will then continue rowing, navigating up the Bristol Channel, through the comparative safety of inland waterways including the Kennet and Avon Canal and the River Thames, and hope to arrive in London in early July, before the start of the Olympics.
As well as claiming a new Guinness World Record, the expedition, named The OAR Project, is also intended to raise the profile of two charity initiatives. The first is to raise money to buy a fleet of rowing boats for able-bodied and disabled young people, part of OAR Inspiring, an education programme to inspire and motivate British schoolchildren, many of whom have already signed up. The second is to support the British charity Plastic Oceans, which is dedicated to fighting plastic pollution worldwide, and whose Patrons and supporters include Roz Savage, Ben Fogle and Sir David Attenborough. Scientists have just issued a dire warning that there may be up to 27 times more plastic waste in the world’s oceans than previously estimated.
If they succeed, the duo will set two other records: they will become the first pair ever to cross the North Atlantic from Canada to the UK, and will also be the first crew to complete a trans-Atlantic row finishing in London.
Savage, who has been honoured as a United Nations Climate Hero, is also listed among the Top Twenty Great British Adventurers, and was named Adventurer of the Year by National Geographic in 2010.
Morris, whose two children are daughter Millie, aged 10, and son, Leo, 13, said: “I am rowing to inspire others. People can do things if they really put their mind to it and especially in this amazing Olympic year.”
Celebrity well-wishers, including Sir Richard Branson, fellow British adventurer, ecologist and environmentalist David de Rothschild and fellow trans-Atlantic adventurer Ben Fogle have all sent good luck messages. De Rothschild said: “Roz and Andrew rock! Literally! They’re inspirational and to those who will follow them across the high seas, their epic adventure will provide hope and a brighter future for many youngsters. That’s more than enough to get behind them and show them your full support!”
In a message to Mos and Roz, Virgin Group founder Sir Richard Branson, who with Per Lindstrand became the first to cross the Atlantic in a hot-air balloon in 1987, said: “You are both barking mad. But I suppose it takes one to know one.” Ben Fogle, who rowed the Atlantic with James Cracknell in 2005: said: “I wish Andrew and Roz all the luck in the world with the OAR Project North Atlantic Row”.
The dynamic duo Roz and Mos have launched their expedition under their new motto “Best of British” and, as they row towards the Olympic Games Opening in London, will be flying the flag for Britain across the Atlantic – literally, with Union Jacks emblazoned on their boat. They will be wearing snoods and caps sporting a “Rule Britannia” motif, supplied by leading British sports-kit manufacturer Crewroom, who also clothe British Olympians in the GB Rowing and GB Canoe squads. Roz and Mos’s diet will consist of meal packs featuring British dishes such as Lancashire Hot Pot and Full English Breakfast (see notes, below).
ROZ AND MOS – THE CHALLENGE
Fewer people have rowed an ocean than have been into space. Rowing an ocean is still listed as Number 1, out of ten of the “Toughest Athletic Challenges on Earth” – by TopTenz.net. The North Atlantic route has claimed the lives of the most ocean rowers to date. Five rowers have been lost at sea. The pairs ocean rowing record for trans-Atlantic crossing West to East is 55 days (New York to Scilly Isles) and it has stood for 115 years. If Roz and Mos complete their voyage, they will become the first mixed-gender team to row the North Atlantic and set a new Guinness World Record for that feat.
MEET “BO” – THAT’S “BOJANGLES” – ROZ AND MOS’S ROWING BOAT
A state-of-the-art ocean-rowing boat, Bojangles is designed to withstand the rigours and conditions of the formidable Northern and Southern Hemisphere ocean rowing routes. She’s constructed from a Kevlar Carbon foam sandwich composite, a similar material to that used in bullet proof vests, and is both extremely strong and very lightweight, with the bare boat weighing around 400kg.
A number of additional safety modifications have been made, including the laying of 50 kilos of lead along her keel. This effectively lowers the centre of gravity of the boat and makes her more resistant to capsize in large seas but crucially even more reliable in terms of self-righting were she to capsize.
Self-sufficient, with all the safety features of any comparable ocean-going yacht, Bojangles has all her systems run from a solar, rechargeable 12-volt, double-battery power supply. The crew’s fresh water requirements are provided by a Spectra water maker unit that creates 24 litres of water per hour.
Bojangles is a mould-built boat so she’s both hydro- and aerodynamic, which allows her to row fast and efficiently when conditions are favourable, and also to cope with the many adverse wind and ocean currents and conditions Roz and Mos will face.
The boat is a fully interactive satellite communications package, which will allow the pair to interact with supporters during the voyage. Solar-powered deck speakers will enable the crew to enjoy “in-house” entertainment while they row – provided the sun is shining. They will also be able to send daily blogs and photos of their journey to the world.
An interactive map, provided by sponsor Weather Underground, is available via the expedition’s website, www.oar2012.com. Supporters can track the live position of the boat, view her speed, the water temperature, current weather conditions, and so on.
Food for the voyage will be stored in 14 watertight compartments on board and comprises an a la carte “boil in the bag” menu, giving the rowers over 6,500 calories a day. Dishes on the menu will include curries, Lancashire Hot Pot and chili con carne.
There is only one bedroom, measuring 2m x 1.2m x 1m. There is no toilet. The rowers are taking a bucket.
Bojangles is named after the song “Mr. Bojangles”, which was originally written and recorded by American country music artist Jerry Jeff Walker for his 1968 album of the same title. Since then, it has been recorded by many other artists, including Robbie Williams.
MEET THE CREW – ROZ AND MOS
Roz Savage, age 44, 5ft 3in, British, born in Nantwich, Cheshire, grew up in Bishop Auckland, County Durham, and has lived in Cambridge, London and Emsworth, Hampshire
Roz is an environmental campaigner and one of the most experienced ocean rowers in the world. She has rowed over 15,000 miles, taken around 5 million oar strokes, and spent cumulatively over 500 days of her life at sea in a 24-foot rowboat. She uses her ocean rowing adventures to inspire action on the top environmental challenges facing the world today.
Andrew Morris (aka Mos), age 48, 6ft 2in, British, from Newark, Nottinghamshire
An entrepreneur, Andrew is Managing Director of logistics group PA Freight and Allseas Global Logistics. His business interests are varied and he owns a number of award-winning companies that range across industries as diverse as shipping and iconic motorbike manufacture. He also has a strong interest in motor racing. A father of two, Andrew has stated the toughest thing about this challenge will be missing his children.
ROZ AND MOS – THE ROUTE
The boat has been transported overland to the port of departure, St John’s Newfoundland.
Departure from Newfoundland will carry the risk of icebergs and iceberg fragments or lumps of ice floating just beneath the surface of the water.
The crew will row through the infamous Canadian Grand Banks, an area of comparatively shallow Ocean. This was the scene of the film, A Perfect Storm.
Bojangles will be completely self sufficient on this journey. No support vessel will accompany the crew, who will be on their own. An experienced land crew will be on hand to assist, if required.
On arrival at the English Coast, the crew will make their way through the Bristol Channel and into the British inland waterways system. Travelling via rivers and canals, they will join the River Thames to enter London. En route they will pass a number of historic landmarks, including Henley-on-Thames, the home of British Rowing, and Dorney Lake, the Olympic Rowing Venue.
The inland waterways leg of their journey is expected to take approximately 14 days to complete.
ROZ AND MOS – THE ROUTINE
Andrew and Roz will endure a gruelling routine, rowing two hours on, two hours off, 24 hours a day. Sleep deprivation will be one of the toughest challenges they face. After eating, checking in with base and making any necessary repairs to the boat, they will never get more than 90 minutes sleep at any one stretch. The shift from 2am to 4am is known as the graveyard shift so every evening they will have “happy hour” drinks and dinner (without the cocktails), where they will have a chance to spend time together. They will then alternate the graveyard shift.
ROZ AND MOS CHOOSE THE BEST OF BRITISH TO FLY THE FLAG
During the voyage, motto: “Best of British”, the crew will be flying the flag, using British equipment and supplies from British companies to support their expedition. Items include:
1. The oars they’ll be rowing with are manufactured by British company Xcell Oars and Sculls, based in Windsor, Berkshire. Bojangles was also built in Britain.
2. The rowers’ seat covers are provided by Easirider Lambswool Over Rugs and Sheepskin Seat Covers, and are manufactured at the company’s workshops in Northampton
3. All the marine technology onboard has been provided by OAR sponsors and marine specialists Raymarine, based in Fareham, near Titchfield, Hampshire
4. Yellowbrick, the GPS tracking device on board Bojangles that feeds back to the interactive map, is made by Yellowbrick Tracking Limited, based in Brentwood, Essex
5. There is a full set of Admiralty charts and publications onboard, supplied by British company, Thomas Gunn Navigation Services from Aberdeen, Scotland
6. Roz and Mos are wearing team clothing provided by technical sports-kit manufacturer Crewroom, based in Putney, south-west London
7. The emergency locator beacons on Bojangles are being loaned to us by McMurdo, based in Portsmouth, Hampshire
8. Most of the food on board is supplied by a small British company, Fuizion, based in Southsea, Hampshire. The rowers will be treated to a Full English Breakfast and locally sourced produce.
9. Roz and Mos will have jars of Marmite on board, as well as Twinings teabags, a must on board, especially for tea-loving Mos. The company is based in Andover, Hampshire.
Notes to Editors
To request interviews, for more information about The OAR Project or high-res images please contact:
Project Manager: Naomi Coe, email@example.com
Follow the OAR
Members of the public can follow the progress of the OAR via an interactive map that has been specially set up, and which allows people to track the position and latest statistics: https://olympicatlanticrow.co.uk/follow-the-oar.
The official Olympic Atlantic Row (OAR) expedition site is www.oar2012.com
Roz Savage’s website is www.rozsavage.com
For official OAR Project photos see http://www.flickr.com/photos/67188758@N04
For photos of Roz Savage for free media use see http://www.flickr.com/photos/rozsavage
Visit the Plastic Oceans site on www.plasticoceans.net
Daily blogs and the latest still images can also be accessed from the OAR website, http://www.oar2012.com
Twitter: @OatlanticRow. The OAR Twitter feed will be used as the first point for any OAR ‘breaking news’.
Support the OAR
Go to www.justgiving.com/OARProject and follow the instructions to make a donation. You can leave your own message for the crew and if you’re a UK taxpayer, The Rowing Foundation will be able to claim back GiftAid, and boost your support by 25 per cent. You can donate by credit card in Sterling, so even if you don’t live in the UK, you can still join in.
Donate by text – if you’re in the UK, just send a text message with the code OARP99 and the amount you’d like to donate (£x) to 70070. If you’re a UK taxpayer, follow the simple instructions on the text you’ll receive in order for The Rowing Foundation to be able to claim back GiftAid and boost your support by 25 per cent.
With thanks to the OAR Project’s sponsors: DHL, Napier Turbochargers Ltd., Raymarine UK Ltd., Sentinel Consulting and Weather Underground Inc.