Today's update comes from James Foster, who rowed with Rene at the University of Bristol Boat Club. Today marks a week since the race started, and the below gives a really interesting insight into how the first 7 days for the crew have gone.
"Firstly to my lovely mother, yes I am being careful, stop worrying!!
We are now nearly a week into the race and things have fallen into a vague routine. You’d think all the hours we spend on deck would get monotonous, but every day brings its own set of little things to enjoy, be it Harry directing people around the boat like a chessboard to try and squeeze an extra percentage of speed, or Simon’s electronic misadventures. If anyone is interested, there is a drone somewhere on the bottom of the ocean around two hundred miles off the coast of west Africa. Our skipper Gareth has been the perfect leader for our crew. He has known exactly when to remind us to sharpen our focus on keeping the boat going fast, when to radiate confidence in our progress, and when to come through with a round of chocolate biscuits if he knows we need it.
I am generally a pretty even-keeled person, but it has been a challenge at times dealing with the sense of powerlessness you feel when the wind decides not to show up. Knowing that even if we set the boat up right and sail it as well as we possibly can, there are boats hundreds of miles away who are tripling our speeds.
It’s been important to bear in mind that however frustrating the situation is, it has been made to feel worse because of the sleep deprivation and diet changes we’ve all been thrown into. No matter whether you’re sat on a boat in middle of the Atlantic, or just dealing with everyday life, even the smallest things are made harder to cope with when you’re running low on sleep.
Luckily, we have managed to maintain positive vibes after the initial shock to the system. There have been so many amazing moments sandwiched throughout that have constantly reinforced what a privilege it is to be out here. We have had almost daily dolphin visits, flying fish, and so much more. The overnight shift from Thursday really hit this home for me. Four hours at the helm gliding on calm seas, consistent breeze, clear skies, a new moon flanked by Venus and Jupiter, and the new Coldplay album on loop left me in disbelief about how lucky we are to be doing what we’re doing.
Things are looking up for the rest of the race. We crossed under the 2000 mile to go mark today. We had a tough couple of days in a wind hole, hitting as low as one mile per hour at times. When you’re sitting up on deck thinking about how you could outswim the boat at its current speed, it’s not a great sign! Forecasts are showing consistently strong breezes in our favour for the rest of the race, so we should hopefully claw back some places.
We have all got in a lot of hours on the helm and on sail trimming in calm conditions which should serve us well when the wind decides to show up again. We moved our clocks back for the first time today, a sign that we are making some inroads to the west! This was done by the highly scientific method of deciding it was too dark to be eating breakfast at 08:00 this morning and changing the time back an hour.
Finally, a big ol’ shoutout to the students and teachers of the King’s School Ely, who unless I truly have lost track of time are taking on a 12 hour rowing machine relay to fundraise the two Race4Rene campaign charities, Papyrus and Child Bereavement. Schools and universities have seen some progress in mental health awareness and support, but there’s still a long way to go.
With this in mind, it has been amazing to see how our campaign has spread through the school, not only in donations but in the conversations it has started. So many people with their own stories to tell, or just wanting to know more. It has genuinely been one of the most rewarding parts of the campaign so far for me. I hope today goes well!"