Riding the waves with the Brightsides

Summer may be coming to an end, but things are really starting to heat up for the Brightsides Atlantic Rowing Team as they prepare for their epic adventure rowing across the Atlantic to raise money for Get A-Head and Meningitis Now. We’re thrilled to be a part of their plans and here team leader Rod Adlington gives an insight the latest training session at the end of August.

The Brightsides Atlantic Rowing team were back in action over bank holiday weekend.

The weather, however, played a major part in proceedings, as the team searched for somewhere to train and row without winds of about 25 knots and harsh tides.

The south coast was the initial plan and a row to the Scilly Isles. But this was quickly scuppered as 25-35 knot winds from the west were forecast.

The next consideration was a row along the Channel to Ramsgate from Weymouth but, again, the weather threatened to make things tricky around the Dover area, with higher winds than these underpowered craft can cope with.

The hardest part of this whole challenge is trying to row and train in the UK, where there are strong tides, winds and lots of coast to collide with!

Finally, the team opted for a trip up north to Barrow in Furness and an attempt at rowing to the Isle of Man. The winds were forecast to be a lot lighter in this region and the team duly departed Barrow at 3.30pm. Thanks must go to Mick and his amazing boat club boat yard and their hospitality, helping us to launch safely and keep everything secure while we were out on the high seas.

The voyage started very well with lovely sunshine and light seas. We were rowing towards a huge windfarm which made for a War of the Worlds type landscape. The first six hours were uneventful, as the crew fell into their two-on two-off routine.

But, as dusk fell, the winds and seas increased. We battled on but as the tide changed Mrs Nelson – our boat – was struggling to make forward motion. We were also a man down due to sea sickness, and after five hours of fighting against a sea and tide now running at 3-4 metres and with the forecast wind only increasing, we decided that discretion was the better part of valour and we should turn around.

An exhilarating row back was had as the boat surfed down some of the waves as we made our way back through the dawn to our base in Barrow. We filled the rest of the morning with ticking off activities required for our entry into the cross-Atlantic race and even fired up the watermaker to make our first fresh water from sea water.

With the winds now too strong to row on the coast we headed inland back to Windemere and put a 24-hour row together, working on nutrition and changeovers. Nutrition is going to be so important, and we have been assessing which of the expedition food we can stomach and which we can’t.

Next trip is scheduled for September 16th and this will also involve our mandatory capsize drill in a marina in Chichester. Should be fun!