It’s the year of the Olympics and a time for everyone to get involved in the Great British spirit. We’re working in conjunction with The Rowing Foundation to help young people get onto the water and try out rowing for themselves.
But we need your help!
Find out more about the OAR Legacy and how you can make a donation here.
I had hoped that this would be a final blog to bid farewell to dry land before we started our voyage across the North Atlantic. But if you’ve been following my blog over the last couple of weeks you will have noticed our growing concern about the unusually large quantities of ice off the coast of Newfoundland, largely due to the huge chunk of ice that broke off a Greenland glacier 2 years ago which has now drifted south into Canadian waters, breaking up into a minefield of icebergs as it goes.
Given our immovable deadline of reaching London in time for the start of the Olympics, we unfortunately don’t have the option to wait until the ice dissipates, which will take another couple of weeks at least. After much soul searching, it is with regret that we have come to the difficult decision to postpone our row for this year. The chances of hitting ice – and the serious consequences of a punctured hull in freezing North Atlantic waters – meant that the risk to our safety was simply unacceptable.
Thank you for all the supportive comments about the sad postponement of our North Atlantic row. The OAR team has very much appreciated your kind words at this rather trying time. After bidding a sad farewell to our wonderful friends in St John’s, Newfoundland, I am now back in Britain, spending the weekend with my mother in Leeds while the country celebrates the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.
“That’s the biggest iceberg I’ve ever seen in these waters,” said Harry Spurrell, native Newfoundlander, as he took us on a tour of the icebergs around Torbay today. Mos and I were out in his speedboat to get up close and personal with the bergs that could impede our progress across the North Atlantic.
Yesterday I went out on a plane to check out the ice situation offshore. Despite a favourable forecast, Mother Nature decided to hide her icy secrets in an extensive layer of fog. After being in the air for over 5 hours, the only icebergs I was able to see were within half a mile of shore. Those further offshore were shrouded in mists and mystery, pending further visual investigation, I decided to do some research online.
Given our current preoccupation with unusually high numbers of bergy bits and other ice fragments off the coast of Newfoundland this year, it seems poignant that we have just passed the one hundredth anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic. Mos and I plan to take a wreath with us in remembrance of those lives lost at sea.
Here is something I’ve never had to contend with before – bergy bits. They might sound cute, but these mini-icebergs, calved from larger icebergs further north, are causing no small amount of consternation in the OAR camp.
Yesterday I was sitting in the boat shed with Mos (and Bojangles, of course) as we discussed our safety strategies. This is top of our minds – and for good reason. If you go to the Ocean Rowing Society website, the little box at the bottom of the page that sums up the stats on Atlantic rows from West to East reads like this:
Completed: 19 Incomplete: 33 Rowers lost at sea: 5
These are sobering statistics. A closer look at the numbers however, shows that the odds are actually pretty good.
May 2012 – Raymarine, the world’s leading manufacturer of recreational marine electronics, is supporting the Olympic Atlantic Row (OAR) with the latest marine technology. Raymarine navigation equipment will play a vital role in the OAR’s epic challenge to row 2,000 miles across the North Atlantic Ocean, departing from Canada to arrive in England in time to celebrate the London 2012 Olympic Games.
I thought I had retired from ocean rowing, but I also said ‘never say never!’ When the opportunity to take part in the OAR Project presented itself, the time was right and the pieces of the puzzle fell into place. I’m really excited to take on the challenge – not only of rowing the North Atlantic route, but also as a mixed pair, which will add a new dimension to my ocean rowing experience. I’m also really looking forward to rowing home, and continuing the journey across Britain to arrive in London in time for the Olympic Games.