THE CHALLENGE

This challenge is no mean feat; more people have climbed Everest than have rowed across the Atlantic. Once the elation of leaving La Gomera at the start of the Challenge starts to fade, the four man crew plan to establish their routine quickly to row for two hours on, two hours off. This will mean two Buoys rowing, and one in either end of the boat, in the small cabins. When it comes to changing shifts, the transition must be as swift as possible, preferably within 20 seconds; one rower will continue to row while the other leaves his seat to swap with one of the ‘rested’ rowers. Only then will the second rower swap take place. The Team will need to maintain the momentum and keep the speed of the boat up during this transition of rowers, otherwise they could lose as much as 20 minutes retrieving their momentum. Time soon adds up!

Unfortunately for the Buoys, ‘two hours off’ does not mean they will have the luxury of two hours of kip! The Buoys will need to use their time wisely; eating, resting, navigating, making any necessary boat repairs and keeping in contact with home, as well as using the dreaded ‘bucket’! The boat will be cramped, with not only the Team on board, but also everything they will need for the entire journey: food and water, waterproofs and other clothing, equipment, spare parts, medical kit and safety gear - there can be no outside assistance during the crossing. The rowers are advised to consume 60Kcal per KG of bodyweight, so this can be around 6000 calories per day! However, previous crews have advised that this is often just not possible.

Sea sickness is anticipated to be the biggest problem at the start of the Challenge, and the Buoys may need to adjust their ‘two hours on, two hours off’ routine to allow for this, but the advice is that this generally passes within 3-5 days.

THE WEATHER

Setting off in December 2019, the Buoys will face extreme weather. Typically, from December to February, the weather varies greatly at different times of the day. At night, temperatures can plummet to below zero whilst in the day, the sun scorches and temperatures reach up to 40 degrees. Days are relatively short, with the sun rising around 0730 and setting around 1800 hours. Volatile waves could see the Buoys facing swells up to 40ft high. Unpredictable and wild, the Atlantic will expose them to all the elements Mother Nature has to offer. With any luck, the Buoys will get to see some wildlife, with previous teams reporting company from whales, dolphins, birds and even sharks.

PREPARATION

It is said that this is a race of the mind, not of the body. There is no prescribed mental training programme that can adequately prepare the mind for this type of challenge, but the Buoys believe that training together will help them focus on the shared goals of the challenge.

The Buoys will prepare themselves physically for the crossing by getting into the best shape of their lives, but their bodies will suffer tremendously throughout the challenge. They will have to endure blisters, pulled muscles, cramp, sunburn, sunstroke, salt sores and mental and physical exhaustion as well as emotional strain. Sleep deprivation and hallucinations come top of the list, and the Buoys will have to deal with feelings of isolation and boredom, and cope with being away from loved ones.

The crew are currently in training, with gym work (thanks to Sponsors David Lloyd Clubs), rowing (thanks to sponsors Marlow Rowing Club) and yoga (thanks to sponsors Iyengar Yoga Shala High Wycombe) and although some focus is currently on weight management, the Team will need to bulk up as the race approaches, to overcome the inevitable weight loss they will experience on the crossing.

THE BOAT

This is a boat with a fantastic pedigree! Originally built for British team ‘All Beans No Monkeys’, who set the record in 2016 for the fasted four in a pure boat to cross the Atlantic (44 days), Romanian team ‘Atlantic 4’ bought the boat then smashed the record, making the crossing in 38 days, 14 hours and 32 minutes!

Bucks Buoys have now bought the boat from Atlantic 4 and will aim to break new records, even if the number given by the TWAC for the boat is 13!

Constructed from hundreds of layers of carbon and Kevlar, the boat is virtually indestructible and self-righting.

With the lack of space and the ‘bucket and chuck it’ toilet system, the Buoys must attempt to keep conditions as sanitary as possible.  The four men will be living on a 7 metre long, 2 metre wide boat, so it’s going to be tough. The organisers are strict with rubbish, so the team must count and correctly store all rubbish to be disposed of at the end of the race, and if any falls overboard they must be notified. The boat will be equipped with a seawater conversion system to provide the crew with drinking water. However, they will need to take some bottled water so they can get used to the taste of the converted water, as well as some electrolytes to make the latter more drinkable.  Solar panels are fitted on the boat to provide power for the GPS and all other vital equipment.

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