The premier event in ocean rowing – A challenge that will take particpants more than 4.800 km. (2.600 nm.) west from San Sebastian in La Gomera, Canary Islands (28oN 18oW) to Nelson’s Dockyard English Harbour, Antigua & Barbuda (17oN 61oW). The annual race begins in early December, with up to 30 teams participating from around the world. The race structure brings together an environment where teams from across the globe gather in the race village San Sebastian in La Gomera, Canary Islands. The atmosphere is electric as people help each other prepare for the challenge of the mighty Atlantic Ocean. All with the same objective – to take on the unique experience of crossing an ocean in a rowing boat. The party atmosphere creates strong friendships and competiveness gives way to commaradery that will continue throughout the event.
But down to the serious business of rowing an ocean. From the sunsets and sunrises to the wildlife that will be encountered first hand – the race offers different experiences to all those involved. Boats are seven meters long and just under two metres wide, with only a small cabin for protection against storms. All boats are equipped at the race start, and cannot take any repair, help or food and water during the crossing. There is a constant battle of sleep deprivation, salt sores and the physical extremes that the row will inflict. Once the safe haven and party atmosphere of port is left behind – you are left with your own thoughts, an expanse of the ocean and the job of getting the boat safely to the other side. It’s now your World. A basic existence leaving behind the memories and smells of land and dealing with the emotions of leaving loved ones behind. The focus changes to your teammate, watch systems and knowing everything there is to know about your rowing boat.
You will become a member of a small community of friends that have shared the adventures of an ocean crossing. The mental and physical endurance will result in a life changing achievement and in the closing days of the challenge – the excitement of reaching Antigua will be your foremost thought with every pull of the oars.
Participants in the challenge each year are rowing for a charity of their choice. Throughout the challenge, funds will be raised through donations from the public for their chosen charity and causes close to their heart.
In the 2015/2016 challenge, history was made with several records being broken, including Antigua’s very own Team Wadadli, being the first Antiguan team to row an ocean, and also officially the oldest team to row any ocean with team member Peter Smith, aged 74, being the oldest person ever to row any ocean.
Antigua will continue to be represented in each challenge over the next two years, with Antigua resident Wayne Johnson on South African Team Facing It for the 2016 Challenge, and a hopeful Team Antigua for the 2017 row.
Stay up to date with the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge on the Atlantic Campaigns Facebook Page, and on the race website.
Photos from Ben Duffy/Atlantic Campaigns.