In 1966 Sir Chay Blyth rowed across the North Atlantic with John Ridgway from Cape Cod on the North American Coastline to Ireland. Their epic journey took place in a 20ft open dory named the “English Rose III” and during their 92 day passage they faced hurricanes, 50ft waves and a near starvation diet. Their voyage was a challenge, a test of strength and endurance and an opportunity that just had to be taken up. This trip laid the foundation for the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge.
This year eighteen teams have chosen to row more than 3,000 nautical miles across the Atlantic. They will start at San Sebastiean in La Gomera, then head west to Antigua. Once they leave the safety of the harbour in San Sebastiean they’ll be on their own, on the vast ocean and at the mercy of the elements, until the race comes into its final stretch. The teams will have to follow several rules to the letter to have a shot at winning. These include:
· The boat shall be raced with the correct number of persons on board at all times
· The oars used shall not have blades exceeding 1,530cm2
· No outside assistance shall be permitted throughout the duration of the race and a apart from the use of a watermaker, collection of rainwater and fishing
· No boat shall receive any re-supplies of food, drink or equipment during the race.
The teams vary in size from groups of 6 to solo rowers and include competitors from Australia, Denmark, Spain, Sweeden and the U.K to name a few. Despite their differences, they all have one thing in common – a desire to do something seemingly impossible and take on the world’s toughest rowing race.
The boats they will be living in are approximately 7.5 meters long and 1.8 meters wide, which means the participants won’t be able to walk about freely on board. Each one will have a small cabin, which is the only protection teams have against the might of the ocean and powerful sun rays. If the weather proves too much for the boat and it capsizes, all the vessels are able to self-right.
All the boats will be equipped with watermakers which change the sea water into drinking water. They also have solar panels which will power GPS and other vital electrical equipment. The rowers will have 90 days’ worth of rations, first aid kits and a few small luxuries and reminders of home. As the rules state – if they run out of rations and have to ask for extras, they will be disqualified. The teams exact route will be monitored by a YB tracker which will be mounted on board, it will transmit the teams position, speed and direction along with several other items of information every four hours. This means friends and family left at home can track their loved ones easily via an online map on the race website.
Along side the YB tracker teams will have an ‘AIS’ which lets the crews communicate with passing vessels. They will also have satellite telephones and specially designed laptops meaning that the crews can communicate with the outside world even when they’re 1,500 miles from dry land.
For more information on the teams taking part in this epic challenge please visit the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge website.