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Below are the answers to some frequently asked questions. If you have any other questions please don’t hesitate to ask them via the form on the contact us page or give us a call.
I’ve never rowed before, could I row the Mediterranean?
Ocean Row Boats are not like the crew or row boats you’ve seen on rivers and lakes they are much wider and much more stable so technique is less important. Anyone with minimal training can move an ocean row boat fairly well. Most of those who participated in the BARCELONA – IBIZA 2013 had no rowing experience before deciding to row the Mediterranean. Of course after a crew enters register they take time to train in their boats and on rowing machines to maximize their chances of being as fast as possible.With good preparation, planning and training it is entirely possible for anyone, with any level of previous experience, to row an ocean.
What about food?
The most important thing about a nutrition plan for an ocean row is that there is a lot of it. Rowers generally burn more calories than they can consume so minimizing this deficit is important. The majority of food on board is freeze dried meals. The meals are lightweight, easy to store, packed with calories and simple to prepare with just the addition of boiling water required. Meals are supplemented with snack packs filled with treats such as chocolate bars, dried fruit and nuts and beef jerky.
What about drinking water?
Each boat has a small water maker or desalination unit installed on it. This device uses electricity from the solar panels to force seawater through a fine membrane. This removes the salt from the water and makes it drinkable. Mandatory kit lists also require each crew to have a hand-powered version in case the main unit is damaged. As a final backup each boat will have several gallons of freshwater stored under the deck which is also used as ballast to keep the boat stable.
What about the bathroom?
The bathroom on ocean rowing boats is slightly more casual than en-suite. Having a shower is done on deck with a waterbottle. The toilet is more of a bucket and chuck-it arrangement.
How fit / young do I have to be?
Ocean rowing is equally about physical fitness and mental toughness as well as how prepared you are. Of course every training session you do before the race makes your row easier. As ocean rowing isn’t a weight bearing sport, several competitors are perhaps older than you might expect. The oldest ocean rower is Thomas Butscher who was 67 when he rowed and many ocean rowers have been over 50 when they started. The youngest ocean rower to date is Eoin Hartwright who was 17 when he and his crew started.
What happens if something goes wrong?
Safety of our race entrants is our primary concern. The best way to cope with an emergency is to avoid being in one in the first place through thorough preparation and planning. However, accidents will happen and so we ensure that each crew member is trained so that they are fully prepared in the case of an emergency. The Race Rules stipulate that each entrant must pass a number of courses to ensure they are prepared for the navigational and technical aspects of rowing an ocean. We also run a series of workshops and seminars to allow entrants to learn from the mistakes of others so that every crew is completely ready for any likely problem. The support yacht that follow the crews are also able to provide assistance to crews (e.g. additional freshwater if a watermaker breaks, spare oars if oars break etc). Each boat also carries a number of pieces of equipment that can be used to cope with an emergency situation including:
Tracking device – Every crew will have a tracking device fitted. This sends the latest position of each crew to the race website every hour or so but also can be activated remotely to provide more regular position updates ensuring that you crew can be found quickly if the need arises.
EPIRB – Emergency Positioning Indicating Rescue Beacon – is a small but powerful beacon, which helps rescuers locate you in an emergency situation. Once activated the beacon transmits a distress alert to the Search and Rescue (SAR) authorities via satellite.
Flares – Can be handheld or parachute and are used to help avoid a collision (white flares) or indicate distress and aid locating those in need (red flares)
Why row an ocean? Surely it’s easier to sail?
Rowing an ocean is very different from sailing. Because you’re moving slower than a sailing boat and closer to the water you get to see things that you’d never experience otherwise. It’s the difference between driving across America and walking across it. You really get to experience the ocean in all it’s beauty. The challenge is not in the completion of the passage but in the way it is done. Every successful ocean rower says that the experience has a long lasting positive impact on their life afterwards.
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