Today marks the start of the 2018 Talisker Atlantic Challenge, the World’s Toughest Row from La Gomera in the Canary Islands to Antigua in the Caribbean.
All 28 teams have been in the harbor for weeks where they’ve tested, packed, and reinforced the equipment that will keep them safe as they cross the Atlantic Ocean. Terence attended the launch two years ago, but this year he and the rest of our team watch from afar – and even while viewing online, it’s clear how much work goes into rowing the Atlantic. Whether as a solo rower or a team of 4, it takes a village to reach the start.
The 2018 teams are rowing for great causes. Kelda Wood for example is a solo rower raising funds for her charity that helps people like her who have had life-changing injuries from outdoor adventures. Her charity and this Atlantic row helps people with differing abilities stop saying ‘I can’t’, and start saying ‘how can I?’ She aims to raise £50,000 to support her cause.
Others are rowing for the environment, like the trio of British rowers ‘Status Row’ who are supporting Marine Conservation Society. Like most ocean rowers, this team has no prior rowing experience but they’ve trained well and deeply believe that ordinary people can do extraordinary things. And that’s just what it takes.
We’ve also been inspired by Team Antigua Island Girls, a team of four women who will be the first ever all-black team to cross the Atlantic Ocean. They’re raising funds for Cottage of Hope who house and support young women and girls who suffered abuse.
For weeks there’s been a festive feeling in La Gomera, where teams have hurried to and fro on final preparations while also enjoying the global village atmosphere. But today the mood suddenly changes. As rowers lose sight of shore and row into the distance, the reality of the task falls upon them: they are finally, after years of preparation, alone. And there is only one way forward: to row, day and night, until they cross the Atlantic Ocean.
Best of luck to those who are leaving shore today. We will be watching you on the YB Tracker. (Readers: download YB now! It’s an app showing locations for every team as they cross.)
La Gomera, we can’t wait to see you next year.