Update from Alex: Day 7

Hi HAC followers. Alex here...

Since the start of training for the this crossing, I think Jamie and I could both agree that although excited and up for the challenge, preparing everything we need for STORM, many sessions in the gym, we were both in some sort of ‘denial’ (for sake of a word) that the crossing was ages away and a session in the gym etc was just another session. 

It wasn’t until the text from Angus (one of my previous crew mates for my past 2 crossings  and now our weather router, boat builder, project manager) confirms via text message that booking our flights to Gran Canaria was looking good for 24th Jan with a view of leaving early the following week. 

This was a considerable trigger of ‘oh, this is actually happening now’. Jamie was skiing at the time (sleepless nights, I know ,) and upon receiving the screenshot from Angus to me, he took his skis off and stopped skiing. Even though he knew we were leaving next week....!?

This really was the beginning of the end, something we have both devoted, a huge amount of time towards the past few months, was finally upon us. And 3 hold bags later with more kit, the 2 of us were in Gran Canaria.

Very calmly over a few days, we carried out final prep of STORM. On the Sunday we were joined by Angus and the HAC Dads. Final prep was carried out. A boat is never ready and the endless checklists I had been running through my head were getting down to the minor details. 

Thanks to David Gordon for the 30 kg of additional chocolate (might put on weight this time) and Dad (Graham) for the sudocream, talcum power etc, as some final comfort touches. 

With a Tuesday scheduled departure, Anxiety / nerves were starting to run on Monday. There we were saying, ‘quick lunch, and back to the boat - not going to have a beer’ albeit dad was razzing up the idea of a few beers. This made sense after we arrived at the restaurant to find Dominic Collins (chairman of Hyperion and proposer of the reason I am currently stark naked in a cabin writing this blog on an iPad to you all!). 

This was a great surprise, we had been lead to believe Dominic would not be able to make the farewell, and of course given the occasion, we managed to run lunch a bit longer!

Morning of, can’t tell if my dry mouth is sea sickness patch, the red wine last night and whiskey chasers, or simply nerves. All of the above most likely. We got to the boat and were still packing kit onto the boat that morning. We just needed to get going!

C. 0930, we set off, having said our goodbyes. Dominic and the Dads rented a boat and followed us out for a short while. Shortly after it was just us. Here we go!

I write this blog having spent 5 days at sea and therefore on our 6th day. To complete such a task any sooner, almost impossible. 

Whilst neither Jamie or I have physically been sea sick, the first few days are a complete culture shock with motions, sleep pattern and physical exertion. Appetite is hugely diminished and tucking into a dal with spinach is the last thing on your mind at the start. Safe to say the excessive amount of chocolate has been put to use.

Very early on, we were joined by hundreds of dolphins which was a great way to start and a good omen some might say. Enjoyable as we were both rowing.

The first couple of days was spent quite quickly but with changeable wind which meant we were adjusting our course constantly for the wind to keep up our boat speed. Then we faced ocean rowers worst nightmares, one of them anyway. No wind. No waves. STORM probably weighs just under a ton and so moving this on your own is back breaking stuff. Regardless of the number of sessions in the gym, we were slowly breaking ourselves and so early on. Calmer seas on  a beneficial side did mean that Jamie has had a chance to adapt to live at sea, rather than a whirlwind start. 

We had light at the tunnel and knew the wind was building in on the weekend. And we now have it and have sufficient speed, but have to work equally hard from other perspectives now, let alone been thrown around the boat from hap hazard wave angles. We are hoping to have this consistent weather for the next couple of days which should allow us to catch up with this ‘ghost boat’. 

We are aware that we are behind this at this moment in time. We are not worried and our journey has taken us on a more southerly route instead of a more direct route from the year previously gone. We hope these trade winds are going to sling shot us under and let the race really begin. The past 5 days have really been about working hard to get us in the position we are now in. As guided by Angus, who we are in constant daily comms with.

I go on shift in 20 minutes and might also add, I lost half of my email writing this earlier which slightly pissed me off...! So apologies if some areas do seem a little rushed.... but I am going to sign off now and send this.... any questions or you would like to get in touch, please contact the email provided by our HAC shore support: hyperion.atlantic.challenge@gmail.com

I will write in more depth, when I learn how to not delete my own emails !

Lots of love all and thanks for all the support.

Alex