Skip to main content

Heads Together and Row: Team Q&A part one

BD TWAC 071218 Heads together row 0236 1 mtime20181212095257
<>What keeps you motivated to keep going?

Toby: Tricky. I have to remind myself that time out here is finite. That's easier now we're counting down. A shift will only last two hours...then rest or sleep. While hours are hard especially at night, the days tick down fast. There's also the joy of calculating best case scenario arrival dates based on daily averages! And best of all to knock me into shape is thinking of getting home to Theo (Toby's son). If all else fails, Justin will remind me that I have no choice and I'm bloody late relieving him on the oars!

Justin: Mainly the thought of getting off this damn boat. Plus the fact that I only allow myself to be in my Happy Place (a technique the team were taught by a psychologist) when I'm on the oars, and I am inordinately fond of it. I should probably say something here about teamwork and not letting my crew mates down.

Rufus the Henley Squirrel: I'm literally tied to the navigation light. I have no choice. Help me. Please help me!

<>What are the most useless and useful pieces of equipment on board, and what could you not live without? <>What has been the scariest moment – and the most exhilarating? <>What have been your highlights and low points so far? <>Have you eaten all the nice food first and now been left with the not-so-nice food? <>What is your favourite food on board and is there anything you are sick of the sight of?

Justin: Peanut butter. And no. I am a little gannet.

Toby: Muesli by far. I only had six ration packs so it's all gone but cereal and milk - sooo good compared with cold re-hydrated gunk. Best meal was the beef and pearl barley stew I had on Christmas Day - similar and almost as good as home made cottage pie

Toby: We generally get on well. But it is a very small space and moving involves changing positions with someone so everything has to be synchronised - not easy when we're all tired. I will not miss queuing to chat to Rufus (that little bucket we believe is on its second Atlantic crossing!) And having done it for one night on para anchor I'd sooner strap myself down on deck than share the bow cabin with someone again. It's not sleep - it's torture. Made all the better when you find out the person you're squeezed in with has a tendency to run in their sleep like a dog!

Justin: Every bit as joyous as you would expect. Although so far we have got on remarkably well considering the pressures we are under. We move as carefully as we can but the boat still attacks us on a regular basis.

Rufus: Have you met these humans?! What is there to like? The singing? The endless benign chatter? After this trip if I ever see any of them again it will be 1,000 years too soon. One of them hangs his boxers out to air on my head!!!!

Justin: As someone who regularly sleeps in his car, I'm very happy sleeping in the boat. I may have to buy a bed that rolls, as I find the rocking motion curiously comforting. I'm sure I dream but annoyingly I never remember them.

Toby: Noisy, hot, wet, bashing about in the waves all makes it hard to sleep for long and my body clock is set to about 40 mins typical sleep period. So not great but it could be worse I suppose. Starting to feel the growing fatigue more and more as the days pass and no prospect of more than a few hours max in one go between here and Antigua. Dreams seem to be a mixture of dreaming about the row and life back home merged together. On occasion I've dreamt about friends being with me rowing although in odd locations rather than the mid-Atlantic.

<>Are you rowing naked?

Toby: Yes. But mostly we're covered up during the heat of the day so only really during dawn or dusk. I've not found it to be good for the bum either so tend to always wear a layer now - shorts or boxers - never both!

Justin: No. The joys of cool air and sweat free skin are more than outweighed by the seat pad abrasions and innumerable trips to skin care clinics that would undoubtedly follow.

Justin: We tried I Spy but Toby said we weren't taking it seriously. Various other parlour games have come and gone but now I just talk to the voices. And it turns out I know lyrics to lots of 80s and 90s songs. This has proved something of a mixed blessing.

Toby: I Spy got boring pretty quickly so we moved on to virtual landscape I Spy, e.g. desert island or a circus. But Justin and Ali ruined that by cheating! Virtual battleships was fun for a while but people kept 'misplacing' their ships. One game featured coming up with a new set of bingo calls from 1-99. Probably the less said about that the better. Singing is good - Justin knows the words to most things. But no-one else likes my singing! Making up stories I enjoy. The best to date involves an English gent of a badger called Bilbo, a Mexican snail called Brian or Speedy - bit of a wheeler dealer, and a Peruvian squirrel called Minstrel - an actor. Set originally in the late 1800s in London, they end up discovering the lost city of Machu Piccu with the help of some magic shoes (similar to red DMs) gifted to them by a mysterious old lady. Now settled there running a successful tour guide and hotel business, they are looking for their next adventure if anyone would like to write it for us?!

As of 1600 GMT on day 42, here’s how the team are getting on:

Position: 17 degrees 23.85 N, 052 degrees 16.92 W

Speed/Direction: 2.6 knots @ 267 degrees

Distance rowed: 2177 Nautical Miles (2505 Miles)

Distance to go: 544 Nautical Miles (626 Miles)

12th in Fours crews

16th overall

Henley Business School is working with Heads Together and Row on a research project looking at individual and team resilience. Click here to find out more.

Visit the Heads Together and Row website to find out how you can support the team and their charities.

Photo of the crew: Ben Duffy/Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge

Published 22 January 2019