Archive for August, 2014

A weekend on Doris

This weekend saw us road tripping down to Christchurch to spend a little time on Doris. After a quick stopover in Bath to meet up with Keith (our sports psychologist), we went through some results from a recent psychometric test and grabbed dinner at a great local pub.

A fundamental part of the row is obviously the mental preparation that the team will have to undergo. A portion of this will involve an in-depth analysis of personality traits and how each individual’s character and behavioural patterns will affect not only their reactions to certain situations, but also team dynamics. This is going to be a fascinating process that will affect the row itself as well as getting the boat to the start line. We will cover this in more depth in a later post.

We arrived into Christchurch late and decided to head straight to bed in preparation for the day of rowing ahead. Izzy and Natalia slept head to toe in close quarters in Doris’ aft cabin, and Laura in the fore-cabin.

In the Aft cabin

In the Aft cabin

To simulate a night on the ocean in a storm scenario (minus the movement), we decided to keep all hatches closed and see how much condensation build up there was and humidity and temperature increase.

We were up bright and early, eating our expedition food (freeze dried) and preparing for our row around Christchurch Bay. It was great to get out for a few hours in the windy conditions with the tail end of hurricane Bertha about to blow through, and giving us the chance to work on some of our boat manoeuvres.

Izzy and Natalia on the oars

Izzy and Natalia on the oars

We would have loved to have gotten further out to sea and played around more in rougher conditions but to do that safely on our next outing, we require a support boat to get us well away from the shoreline.

Even though we were back in port earlier than expected, we made use of the remaining time productively by familiarising ourselves more with Doris, sharpening our rope skills and sampling more expedition food. We’re beginning to rate the meals so we can decide which we want to take with us!

We spent another night all cosy inside Doris while the wind howled and rain lashed the outside. Sunday morning saw another sampling of expedition food breakfast before we said farewell to Doris and headed back to London.
A great weekend had by all!

A blustery morning on Doris

A blustery morning on Doris

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Expedition skills

As an Expedition Leader in Schools projects, I am lucky enough to work with some pretty great groups of teenagers. Once they sign up with us, it is my job to guide them through the process of fundraising, planning their trip and helping them to develop as a team. The idea is that once they are out on expedition they lead and manage their team, look out for each other and work together to make a successful trip. Many of the skills they develop is exactly what we replicate as a team in the Coxless Crew.

First there is the getting to know each other stage. Often the students in my teams are in different year groups and friendship groups and have never spoken before. Similarly our Coxless Crew formed from girls who had never met previously but who all share the passion for our charities and a determination to row the Pacific Ocean. With the schools we run team building sessions, regular team meetings and take them on a UK training weekend. For the Coxless Crew we too have weekly meetings, sea survival, medical and electrical courses to name a few, but our team building is based on weekends of army based training in the Brecons with Fieri (http://fieri.biz/) & bonding with our boat as well as the team, with 24/48/72 + constant hours of rowing in the sea. In both cases though the teams have to help each other through the experience and to successfully complete the challenges thrown at them.

Fundraising! This is the biggest challenge facing us in the Coxless Crew with a massive budget required for our expedition. A lot of the students manage to fundraise for their entire trip, however there’s certainly a difference between raising £2,000 to £200,000! When dealing with a larger budget, for the Coxless Crew, our sponsors are a huge part of the expedition. They are what make the expedition happen, they help us to fund that the best of the best people and equipment is in place, to ensure we are as best prepared as possible. By activating this expedition, our sponsors are the people that will enable over £250,000 to be raised for our charities. But with £100,000 still to raise to get us to the startline, we’re still on the look out for more sponsors to come on board, so please contact us if you’re interested!

Planning is up next and for our school expedition teams this involves choosing the areas they want to visit, the types of project work they want to complete and the activities they want to do. Again team work comes into play as they make sure that everyone’s opinions are heard and that they create an itinerary that works to fit everything in. For our Pacific row the planning is on a whole other level that I had never imagined! There is a seemingly endless numbers of things that have to be organised, co-ordinated and planned each week, let alone the logistics of boat, team, food and equipment shipping, across three different continents.

Finally the actual expedition. The difference between the students we send away and the ones who come back is huge. They come back with new friends for life, a new confidence and independence and more often than not plans for their next adventure! I can’t wait for us as a team, to be out on the ocean in our beautiful boat Doris. We will be well prepared for the journey both in terms of physical training, training in the boat and psychologically trained, thanks to our awesome support team but I have no doubt that the experiences that we will share out in the ocean with only each other to rely on, will cement our teamwork and our friendships to a level that nobody else will ever be able to understand! And who knows what plans for the next adventure we might come back with…

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