Heads Together and Row: Team Q&A part two

23 January 2019

Heads Together and Row: Team Q&A part two

Following on from yesterday’s interesting and insightful answers, you can find part two of our Q&A with Heads Together and Row below.

But first, an update from Toby on the team’s progress as they enter the final 500 nautical miles of the race! He said:

No sooner had we passed 1/4 of the way to go my thoughts turned to 500 miles as the next milestone in my mind. As we get closer my obsession with hourly and daily mileage figures and ETA in Antigua grows.

If you’d like a prediction take a look at the race tracker or better still the TWAC safety officer updates on the Dot Watchers group on Facebook - you won’t find one here!

What I will share are some numbers to set the scene. But that’s all these offer. Wave and wind conditions change by the hour out here and could easily add a day or more. We’re on our fifth autohelm repair - it’s holding but odds-on to fail again in the bigger conditions forecast later this week. Any number of other things could affect our ETA so just keep an eye on the race tracker and we’ll try not to cover it up with tinsel or boxer shorts again!

The following are all UK time.

Our daily average for the first half of the race was 48 nautical miles. IF maintained from today we would arrive at 00:30 on Sun 3 February.

Our daily average for the second half of the race (from 8 Jan) is 54.7 nautical miles. IF maintained from today we would arrive at 16:00 on Fri 1 February.

Our daily average for the past two days was 60 nautical miles. IF maintained we would arrive at 18:00 on Thursday 31 January.

So there you have it. A range of almost meaningless figures (also I’m tired and willing to have my maths challenged!).

For now we’ll continue to take each day as it comes, count every hour and embrace every minute. Thank you for all the wonderful support and wishes that keep us moving forward. We’ll try to do you proud as we count down the final days to the land of iced cocktails and club sandwiches…”

Thanks again to everyone who has been following the team’s progress and sending messages. Now, here’s the second half of that Q&A (part one can be found here).

If you could have one extra crew member, which famous person would you choose to accompany you on your journey?

Toby: I spent a two-hour night shift trying to narrow this down but can’t. Either Stephen Fry or Mr Kipling. Both for exceedingly obvious reasons.

Justin: Either that young professor bloke whose name l forget to teach me about the stars, or Graham Norton, provided he was gossipy. Or Tomasz Schafernaker with the weather. Or Vic Marks from Test Match Special. Lots of great stories and a very soothing voice.

How do you deal with the rough sea and keeping warm?

Ali Wet Weather

Toby: Rough seas I tend to deal with by getting sick as a dog! It hasn’t been cold so even when soaked through at night it’s not cold rowing and the cabin is warm even when wet.

Justin: We have clothing for every conceivable eventuality. If it stays wet we stay in it and make everything else wet. As for the rough weather, we just get on with it! If it’s too rough we have a para anchor, but otherwise we keep ploughing on.

Do you ever see any other boats?

Toby: Not since day one. We did come within half a mile of another rowing boat (fellow crew Men of Oar) which is very rare but could only see their nav light at night and not see them on the horizon by sun up. We had a good chat on the radio which made for a special night. Next closest was a container ship about five miles away but again we only saw the lights.

What sort of wildlife have you come across during your adventure?

Toby: Whales - another three came for a fly by this morning with one showing the underbelly as it barrel rolled past us. Dolphins - some pods who came and swam with the front of the boat for a while. A giant turtle who popped up very close for a look, saw we already had a captured squirrel and scarpered. Birds - three kinds including Betty. Flying fish - a lot of flying fish. We always try to return them to the ocean when they land on us or the deck but with varying degrees of success - some are very feisty and get into awkward gaps.

Is your hair all knotted and tangled yet Ali?

Ali: Yep! Having it in plaits helps but it still takes about half an hour to pick them apart, get a brush through and redo them.

Toby: Mine is fine. In fact I think I may be less balding than when I left.

What are you most looking forward to when you arrive in Antigua?

Justin: Getting off the boat, having a shower, fresh fruit and veg.

Ali: A shower!

Toby: Food and drink. First I would like a pint of Orangina over ice with slices of orange and lemon in it, and a pint of iced water. Then a pint of beer while I look through the menu. Then TBC, but possibly a club sandwich or a chicken breast burger or a rare fillet steak or fresh steamed fish. With a side order of some kind of rainbow salad.

What has been the most surprising thing about this challenge?

Justin: That we haven’t had any massive fallings out. Yet.

Ali: I never imagined I’d be teaching Jez part of a Hamlet soliloquy off by heart!

Toby: The weather. Every day is something very surprising in comparison to the forecast.

Have you learnt anything new about yourself from the challenge so far?

Sunset Rowing

Toby: Yes. I didn’t come out here to find or lose myself or anything like that. I’ve cemented what I already knew about what is most important to me and developed plans about how to make more of life and time. Nothing drastic but a better direction. I’ve learnt about the limits of my endurance. I’ve learnt how to better coexist with others and embrace our diversity.

Justin: Not yet. I think the revelations will come with hindsight. Although I have learned I can do a mean impression of Shane McGowan doing Fairytale of New York.

What has this experience taught you about resilience?

Toby: Positive mental attitude. So easy to come by and so easy to lose sight of in an instance. Strength in sharing feelings, problems and fears and talking them through. Tackling one problem at a time, not putting things off or letting the fear of them get to you before even trying.

Justin: That when it comes to it, the human body and mind can do loads more than you think.

What do you think will be your next challenge?

Justin: Seeing how long I can stay on the sofa and watch TV.

Toby: Whatever it is it won’t take two years to prepare and 50 odd days to achieve! I have lots of ideas and am up for various challenges but a day or a few days should surely suffice?! For now, boring as it may sound, I intend to spend more time with family and friends, invest more in relationships and do more of the things I like doing.

Rufus the Squirrel: Tying four humans to a tree and leaving them there for two months.

Will you still be friends afterwards?

Toby: For sure! We are forever joined by this experience. We come from different backgrounds and walks of life but now share an epic common experience.

Justin: No. In fact once they have finished being of use to me I may have them killed.*

(*We think he’s joking…)

How is Rufus?

Rufus The Henley Squirrel

Toby: I think he’s had better days but you’d have to ask him. I’m not sure he’s cut out for life at sea nailed to a nav light.

Justin: He may need counselling on his return. He has seen and heard things no squirrel should have to face. Not to mention having his tail caught in the hatch door on occasion. On the bright side, his fur has bleached and he looks pretty cool, so he should be a hit with the squirrelettes.

Rufus: I can’t even remember the last time someone called me by my name and asked after me. Thank you. That means a lot to me. Totes emosh - I think I’m going to cry happy tears.

And finally, Justin – did you take your sister’s box with you?

Justin: I took the contents, which have been used and well received, thank you.

Today's update

As of 1600 GMT on day 43, here’s how the team are getting on:

Position: 17 degrees 19.29 N, 053 degrees 12.24 W

Speed/Direction: 2.0 knots @ 262 degrees

Distance rowed: 2230 Nautical Miles (2566 Miles)

Distance to go: 491 Nautical Miles (565 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.

Contact Image

Contact Us

For more information, contact the Henley Press Office by email at pr@henley.ac.uk or by phone on 0118 378 8676.