More people have been to space than have rowed the Atlantic. The Mind The Atlantic boat crew are taking on the challenge to row 3000 miles unassisted across the second largest ocean on the planet, all the way from Tenerife to Barbados. That’s in addition to the epic 60ft waves, the fear of capsizing and over a month without private bathroom breaks. A world record is at stake on this epic adventure, with them aiming to break the ocean rowing World Record for an Atlantic crossing.
We caught up with Oli and Amelia, who are taking on the Mind the Atlantic challenge later on this year, raising money for mental health charities, Mind and Tough Enough to Care. Read on to find out more.
Rowing the Atlantic, that’s quite the journey! What inspired you to take this challenge?
Oli: It all came about very quickly, I got a call from Adam and accepted the challenge to row within about 30 seconds! I have always wanted to do something big like this to test my physical and mental limits but also to make a difference in the world. This is the motivation for our mental health and sustainability causes. We have a great opportunity here to make a difference to a lot of lives and the future of our planet so I plan to grasp that with both hands.
Amelia: I have always loved the ocean, from swimming in it to studying its properties at university. I watched a crew row across the ocean in 2020 and just knew I wanted to do it too. I never thought that it would happen so quickly, but these three said they had a seat free and I couldn’t refuse!
What’s the training like for it? And what is the most challenging aspect of the training?
Oli: The crew are all active competitive members of the Bristol Pilot Gig Rowing Club so we are constantly training for the next big competition. As a result we are in a good position fitness wise however the training for the Atlantic crossing is different and not just physical. The fitness side will take the form of long hellish sessions on the rowing machine or ergo (which also teaches you mental strength), two day ergo events to simulate the training intensity combined with the lack of sleep by adopting the two hours on and two hours off approach. We will also be training over long weekends in the boat (again two hrs on and two off) to practice with the equipment that we will need for the crossing and to simulate safety drills.
Amelia: Currently, the crew are all training for the gig rowing championships at Newquay which means rowing on Bristol Harbour four times a week, as well as completing weights and rowing machine sessions. After this event, we will need to change our training to endurance rather than sprints, being able to stand a 2-hour row with very little rest! Preparing for the lack of sleep and the mental challenge will be the hardest part, but knowing we are rowing for a good cause (and a world record) will steer us through.
How long do you hope the journey is going to take you?
Oli: We want to break the world record for crossing the Atlantic in our class of boat. To do that our target is to cross in around 30 days. That's two hours rowing in every four, for a month!
Amelia: We are determined to break the world record! Hopefully our experience of rowing in gigs will transfer to the Atlantic, but we are keen to get as much boat experience as we can before we head out - including replicating the 2 hours on 2 hours off cycle which we will do constantly until we reach Antigua.
What are you most excited about for the row? And most nervous about?
Oli: For me the most exciting part will be departure day and when we see land for the first time coming into Barbados. Also hopefully we will get the chance to see some really unique wildlife and nature on the crossing (the film Life of Pi keeps coming to mind…!). Things that make me nervous are the huge seas we will likely face, although that also excites me.. The seemingly inevitable Marlin attacks also concern me!
Amelia: I’m most excited to set off - to lose sight of land and for it to just be us and the boat for 30 (hopefully) days! Hopefully we will get some good sunsets and sunrises as well as some wildlife along the way. I’m also really looking forward to the food when we get back to land! I’m most nervous about the big waves, but I’m sure we’ll get used to those pretty quickly!
How can people support you on your incredible challenge?
Oli: There are a number of ways that people can get involved and support our endeavour, the easiest way is to 'buy a mile' by following this link https://www.mindtheatlantic.com/buy-a-mile. Every mile bought gets us a mile further across the ocean! There is also the 250 club where people and businesses can donate £250 to the costs of the row, the first 5 of which will get a free gift worth £50 as a thank you plus other benefits that can be seen on our website.If anyone would like to sponsor larger amounts, we have a number of packages available on the website, from Bronze to Platinum. We can also do bespoke packages - just contact us and let us know. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to get in touch.