I’m very saddened but also strengthened as I write this blog today. Its been a tough week in many ways, and again I’m able to draw inspiration and strength from those who inspire me.
Roz Savage was due to row across the Atlantic Ocean, arriving back in the UK in time for the Olympic games, but had to pull out due to ice which would have made the row too dangerous. Pulling out of something like that is a huge undertaking, especially having built up press, sponsors, and followers, and putting your neck on the line publicly. This not only leaves you dealing with your own personal disappointment, but also feeling you have let others down, and not fulfilled a promise. But I hope that Roz doesn’t see it this way, or feel too disappointed. Withdrawing was a much better option than the possibility of hitting an iceberg and dying or putting others at risk, it takes a huge amount of guts to follow your instinct and to know your limits and capabilities, especially when working hand in hand with mother nature and the elements. Roz has only gone up in my estimation after this, and I’m proud of her strength and sound judgement. I should also mention that this is a double team here, with Andrew Morris, not just Roz, which is a first for her, as most of her journeys have been solo. It also illustrates the importance of raising awareness of the oceans, with a chunk of the ice cap breaking off and generating the ice which led to the cancelation (?) or postponement (?) of the row: http://www.rozsavage.com/2012/05/20/decision-north-atlantic-row-postponed/
For the past few days I’ve been following two other ocean rowers, one is our OPG Patron Sarah Outen who is travelling around the world from London2London by human power, and the other is British Army man Charlie Martell who did most of his preparation for the row whilst serving Queen and Country in Afghanastan. Both are raising money for some excellent charities. I’ve been watching and worrying about then because of a typhoon and some of the stormiest weathers known for rowers. Both have been locked in their cabins and capsizing frequently, and both are now awaiting rescue after their boats have been damaged significantly. I can only imagine how frightening it must be to be locked up inside your cabin, unable to eat or drink, scared witless, alone, and wondering whether you’ll ever see your loved ones again, and knowing that you put yourself in that position for personal challenge rather than necessity. The Japanese coast guards are following both boats, since receiving distress calls this morning (huge shout out to the coast guards in Cornwall who received the distress calls, and relayed the information back to the coastguards in Japan), and they are hoping to pick Sarah up late on Friday, and Charlie early on Saturday as its too dangerous to rescue them right now, so they must wait for the storm to subside a bit. Thankfully both Sarah and Charlie are doing as well as can be and neither is hurt, so I’m thinking about them and hoping they stay safe until they can be rescued. I hate to think how one battles with that sense of disappointment or failure having been beaten by the weather and at not making it across the ocean, especially for Sarah, who has travelled so far around the world and is the youngest person and first person to have rowed across the Indian Ocean solo. Especially after waiting so long to set off, waiting for a weather gap, and then just 24 days in, to end up forced to pull out, especially with sponsors and others relying on you, and perhaps even media who question what you were doing there in the first place? Follow Charlie here: http://www.pacific2012.com/ and Sarah here: http://www.sarahouten.com/ Both Charlie and Sarah have been hugely encouraging and supportive of both OPG and my planned Pacific Ocean row, giving great advice and kind words and all ocean rowers know that there are risks involved.
I’m incredibly proud to be British, because of these three very inspirational people in my life, and whilst I’m saddened by what has happened, I’m also filled with hope and courage since the systems and training they underwent clearly paid off. They have strong boats, great supporters and sponsors, great communications, insurance, and assistance and neither were hurt or killed despite the crazy weather and pitchpoling. Both were strong, and I think its amazing how both were able to communicate what is was like in the build up to the storm, since both knew it was coming, and were able to use NASA satellite images, and to say that they wouldn’t be able to blog or tweet for a few days because it would be rough. This is really incredible that people can be so far away, and in such conditions, yet still connect and share their very personal experiences with millions. It makes me even more determined for my own ocean row and to take every aspect of training seriously and not to expect an easy ride at any point, and no matter how hard life feels right now, trying to organise sponsorship ad logistics or managing my OPG team, or whatever, its not going to be a patch on how hard it could be in such stormy weather or battling fatigue or whatever. Its not like Sarah and Charlie can have a nice cup of tea or a nap whilst waiting to be rescued, or go on the internet for a bit or whatever. The weather makes going to the toilet a deadly experience, they have to go outside and do their business over the side of the boat. They cannot cook or heat anything because of the dangers of the boat capsizing, and they will have be polyphasic sleeping throughout on good days (2 hours rowing, 2 hours resting), but when weather is crazy like this, it won’t be safe to sleep, so they will need to remain on alert, filled with adrenaline, and keeping motivated and energised for an unknown length of time. But this is what they trained for and knew might happen, and they also both have had some amazing experiences and seen some incredible nature too. In life, you always have both extremes of highs and lows. Three very special people, that I’m immensely proud of, and draw courage from every day, no matter what. Stay safe guys, and hope to see you soon xxx