Pimms O’Clock

This weekend was a pretty exciting one! Doris was finally back on the water, fully kitted out with batteries, electronics, hatches and a rudder. The weather was beautiful and perfectly befitting our first proper outing.

Doris

We went for a paddle up the Solent, successfully navigating our way out of Christchurch and up to Mudeford without hitting any other boats or any trees and with only a small run in with one of the mud flats. To celebrate we moored ourselves up to a buoy (using proper knots and everything!) and enjoyed pimms and chocolate cake in the sunshine. Since Doris isn’t the most inconspicuous boat on the water we also made a lot of new friends with everyone wanting to know where we were off to. She is definitely a favourite with the kids.

DCIM100DRIFT DCIM100DRIFT

On Saturday night we set up camp in the cabin for the first time. It was surprisingly cosy in there and was a good introduction to our living space for the 6 months we’ll be out on the Pacific. We played some games and had some dinner before settling down to sleep. Next step will be to spend the night properly out on the water rather than moored up on the pontoon to give us a proper feeling of what it’ll be like to not be able to get off the boat.

games sleep

Sunday saw us back out for some more rowing followed by some plotting and planning for the week ahead. There’s a lot going on in the Coxless Crew at the moment. Most excitingly, next Saturday we are meeting with the amazing women who have applied to join our team. Exciting times ahead! Stay posted to hear how it goes. x

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The Boat Race

This weekend saw some team building with the wonderful Keith Goddard, our ever patient and helpful sports psych and some team rivalry while watching the boat race in Putney. We spent Saturday in Bath with Keith and put in some solid time working on how to get the best out of each other. This will be vital when we are out at sea when we will be each other’s main support for a successful ocean crossing.

On Sunday we headed to the river bank in Putney to watch the boat race action. With myself an ex Cambridge blues rower and Laura an ex Oxford Brookes student the competition was on.
L and E

The atmosphere in Putney was great and a huge number of people had shown up in plenty of time to see the coin toss to see which crew would get which station on the river.

coin toss

When each crew member was announced as they got into the boat I have to admit I was mainly jealous. These crews have been training all year for the challenge of this one race, a feeling I remember well from my boat race and the reason why if I could relive any race I’ve ever done it would be that 6 minutes at Henley. We’re looking forward to getting into our lovely boat Doris in California and getting a similar feeling of nerves and excitement when we set off next year (although we’ll be on the water for a little more than 20 minutes!). Sadly the race was a little less exciting than we might have hoped for after the Cambridge 2 man was almost ejected from the boat after a blade crash in the first 5 minutes. However all credit to him for continuing the race and to Oxford (although I hate to admit it) for some classy rowing and the biggest winning margin since 1973. Next year!

In other news our little pink boat should be back on the water in the next couple of weeks so that we can start putting in the hours at the oars instead of on the rowing machine. We are also still looking to complete our team. If you think that you are woman enough to join us then click here! http://coxlesscrew.com/join-us/

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This is why it’s called a Challenge!

contact-sunset

Currently being the 30th March, we technically should be packing our bags, spending time with our loving family and friends, stuffing our faces with endless amounts of food and drink in a last ditch attempt to pile on the kg’s in the final few weeks before departure. However, as many of you know, we have been on the hunt for a sponsor over the last few months and although we now have some amazing product sponsors, we unfortunately have yet to raise the funds that we need to get Doris shipped out to America. So our timeline dictated and our advisors kindly pointed us to the decision that we had to make, so we have postponed the row to 2015.

front-ocean-image

We have a tight weather window between April-June, in order to leave America outside of the typhoon season and ensure we arrive into Australia before the weather again gets unpredictable in December. So not having the funds we need, moving it a month will have little affect, so we had to postpone it a year. As much as this was extremely difficult to come to terms with, especially after 2 years in the making so far and writing it in black and white isn’t easy, once the decision was actually made, everything became a lot clearer. We can get fully up to speed with becoming electricians/ mechanics/ DIY experts on our Doris over the next year, we can take Doris around the Isle of Wight, across the Channel and into the North Sea like we had planned for 2014. This will all test our sea skills and get to know Doris inside out and hopefully through some rough weather in order to give us an insight of things to come.  It means we can work further on team dynamics, psychological preparations, fitness and doing things in our training that we enjoy!

The most important thing, is that extra time gives us more time to prepare and with this challenge we have no intention of ‘attempting’ to row the Pacific, but to successfully achieve rowing the Pacific & preparation is key to that success.

The commitment and dedication that this row takes is hard for anyone to take on, you have to make a number of sacrifices to your work, family and friends and your life can feel like it’s on ‘hold’ for that period of time. Having to push the row to 2015 is asking for everyone to commit a further 2 years of their life to it, so understandably this has been a decision that not everyone has been able to make. All the girls that have been involved in the row to date, have fully contributed and made the row what it is today. Although some people may no longer be involved within the rowing team, they will always be a valued member of the crew, and it is all their combined hard work and efforts that have made it happen, and that will never be forgotten.

Andrew Brown - Atlantic Solo winner 2012 Andrew Brown – Project Manager

Lucy Vaughan-Griffith - PR LeadLucy Vaughan-Griffith – PR Manager

With a year to go, we are going into 2014-2015 with an esteemed advisory board behind us, a Project Manager now in place with Andrew Brown who rowed the Atlantic in 2012 as a Solo and a PR Manager Lucy who has a wealth of knowledge and expertise. Doris our boat, is fully equipped and on the water for the next year of practice thanks to Rossiters and we have huge thanks to our ongoing support from our current sponsors; Raymarine, Victron, CrewSaver, Crew Clothing, Azo Print, Solbian, Lewmar, Marlow, McMurdo, Fusion electronics, Barden, International Paint, SOSrehydrate, iCom, IMP, Marine Bedding, Vivobarefoot, Drift & The Rowing Company. Not to mention the support that we’ve gained from those of you that are a part of our journey through Buying A Mile http://coxlesscrew.com/buy-a-mile/ and for Saucy Horse, Berry Asset Management, Will It Make the Boat Go Faster, William Towers and Salt-Away for being a part of our Company Raffle http://coxlesscrew.com/coxless-company-raffle/.

So the up and coming couple of months will see a more structured team recruitment process involving interviews and team testing which you will all get a chance to follow and be part of if you’re interested http://coxlesscrew.com/join-us/! Team training which will involve a couple of us taking part in the Ride 24 London to Cornwall 310 miles in 24 hours ride, outings in Doris and her first encounter with the Isle of Wight in June prior to the Round The Island Race and plenty more events that we look forward to sharing with you.

Thank you to everyone for your ongoing support, we’re looking forward to an exciting year ahead!

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All things Crew….

crewsavercoxless-crew-logocrew-clothing

 

victron

So this last week has been an eclectic mix, from lifejackets to batteries, to clothing and training, with a few meetings thrown in for good measure!

Last week we visited one of our latest sponsors CrewSaver, heading down to their offices in Portsmouth and being fortunate enough to get a tour of the warehouse where all the magic happens.

photo 4photo 2

 

There’s  a big design room where all the illustrations and cadcam systems are laid out, which obviously for confidentiality I didn’t take a photo, but trust me when I say it’s an awesome big playroom for designers alike.

Then the templates get made and it’s in here that the magic happens, from stitching….. to testing the canisters and that there’s no leaks in the system…… to the final product of our jackets, the Ergofit! (Aptly named).

photo 3photo 5

We went from this, up to Nottingham to learn about all things lithium and battery related.

Johannes from Victron is an amazing sponsor and has the patience of a saint! Coming into this row and setting up the boat, I knew diddly squat about electronics and never thought we’d become electricians, love the skills you learn through this row! Anyway, after learning from past Ocean rowers experiences that the electrics always have a blip or two, we soon realised that we need to know the electrical system inside and out, so we booked onto a battery course hosted by Johannes himself from Victron.

 

photo 1victron

It took me back to physics days, watt=volt x amps and talking cathodes/ anodes and movement of positive and negative ions, who’d have thought! But it was a great day, that has got us on the road to understanding the lithium system and building our confidence in how to use it and fix it if/ when needed, onboard our boat Doris. Charlie Pitcher who has used the batteries regularly himself and installed them on other boats, is a wealth of knowledge who has also kindly gone out of his way to help us with advice which has been invaluable, thanks Charlie!

 

Then finally the fun bit of being a Coxless Crew member, having recently joined forces with Crew clothing, we had the great experience of going into the store to try on different clothes! Loved it! Then topped off today to receive a big parcel delivery which was like Christmas and birthdays rolled into one. Thanks to them, we now have some smart presentation wear for our meetings and there’s nothing better than a good outfit to feel professional in.

 

GetAttachmentcrew-clothingcrew clothing

 

So a great past couple of weeks, even with a few hurdles to overcome along the way,  it’s great to reflect on the positive things that make this an amazing journey and to highlight the awesome support we have behind us. Thanks to everyone and happy weekend to all! xx

 

 

 

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SOS UK Launch

sosrehydrate_sweatshop

Last week saw the launch of SOS rehydrate at the popular Sweatshop store on Trump Street and we were fortunate enough to be kindly invited along by the co-owner himself James Mayo.

SOSrehydrate

SOS is a new brand that was launched in America and Australia in April of last year. It caught our attention, because it is based off of medical grade oral rehydration therapy inline with the World Health Organisation strategy. For us, having a replacement that optimises fluid uptake is key, particularly when rowing for 12hours a day, whilst being exposed out in the sun and sea in heats of over 40deg, alongside times of sea sickness when hydration is fundamental.

Success has already been shown in the America’s Cup winners, Team Oracle, who used it during training and during the competition last year. Sir Ben Ainslie (fellow Cornishman I might add!) spoke very highly of SOS and how he felt it made a difference to his performance and alertness. He was so impressed that he has since bought into the company.

Fortunately for us, this meant we got to meet Sir Ben himself at the Launch

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Along with his crewmates of Team Oracle last year Freddie and Kyle
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For the coming couple of months, SOS and sweatshop are running a ‘grinder’ challenge, ( note: this is a piece of equipment used in sailing that applies the power to winch the sails, it’s not a type of intimate dance move!) whilst at the launch, myself and Nat set the leading female time for women to aim to beat across the country. Currently Nat is the leading female (only by 0.2 second I might add!).

Sir Ben Ainslie launches SOS Rehydrate, a new and cutting-edge electrolyte replacement drink.
(Photography courtesy of © OnEdition)

Sir Ben Ainslie launches SOS Rehydrate, a new and cutting-edge electrolyte replacement drink.
(Photography courtesy of © OnEdition)

The competition is being run across the country throughout February https://www.sweatshop.co.uk/sos-challenge so check out the link to see if it’s coming near you, to win a chance to go for a sail on Ben Ainslie’s boat!

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Start of 2014

Hi all,

So the awaited blog for the start of 2014, we apologise that this is over a month late due to all the antics we’ve been distracted with over the last month. However, New Years resolution – to write more frequent blogs and to keep you all in the loop.

So the start of the year was a busy one! Jan 4th was the first day of the London Boatshow, which we were so fortunate and thankful to the boatshow for sponsoring us with an amazing spot for our Doris to be on exhibition.

Doris looking pretty in pink :)

Doris looking pretty in pink

Considering Doris was just a shell last year, she is now a nearly fully kitted out boat ready to take on the seas! This is all thanks to our boat builder Rossiters and our supportive sponsors Some of our kind sponsors Raymarine, Victron, Solbian, International Paint, McMurdo, Marlow Ropes, Fusion Electronics, Lewmar and iCom whom all make our boat the safest she can be.

Whilst at the boatshow we also were fortunate to have gained support from some new companies, in particular we welcome Crew Saver who are kindly sponsoring our liferaft with survival pack alongside the latest technology life jackets ErgoFit Emma during a 2hr row as part of a 2hrs on: 2hrs off 12 hour row, testing out the ErgoFit jackets. We tested out the life jackets whilst we completed our 2hr on: 2hr off 12 hour row. The jackets passed the test with flying colours, with no jaffing or irritation, we didn’t even feel like we were wearing lifejackets – so that’s perfect for a 6 month row! Next test is add in some sea water.

Courtesy of The Rowing Company http://therowingcompany.com/ for the support of the ergo, the rowing machine also gave a wealth of people of all ages and abilities, to come and have a go at rowing on an ergo machine . We also ran a 200m race which got a good competitive spirit amongst families, friends, partners. We had top winners from the week:

Fastest Male:  Phil Clapp who won a HP Printer courtesy of Kamwell www.kamwell.com

Fastest Female: Sally Slack who won a Clarisonic face courtesy of Loreal

Fastest under 16′s female:  Bridget Tahourdin won a waterproof bag courtesy of Overboard www.overboard.com

Fastest under 16′s male: Benedict Aldous won a pink overboard bag courtesy of Overboard www.overboard.com

Random winner selected to come out on the boat with us: Martin Attfield (best prize of all!)

Alongside the rowing competition we also continued to run our ‘Buy A Mile’ campaign and successfully a further 150 names have been added to our inspiration wall to travel across the Pacific.

Thank you to everyone that came to visit our Doris and us as a team, we love talking about the row but more importantly to spread the word about our Charities that we are doing this for. Walking With the Wounded and Breast Cancer Care, are 2 charities that support the Survivors and their families. Whether someone is injured or has overcome Breast Cancer we want to show how these individuals and many others can overcome adversity and make the most of the life they have been given. 6 months of our life to be at sea is nothing to the life challenges that these survivors have had to face, so help support our row and raise the money for these amazing charities.

Our Charities

 

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Merry Christmas!

Well it’s been a pretty exciting end to 2013. We finally got our lovely Doris out on the water! It was awesome taking her for a spin and although a lot tamer than being out on the open ocean we got our first feelings of how it will be out on the Pacific. We also got our first experience of manoeuvring an ocean rowing boat. A learning experience for all as it turns out it’s not easy to turn around in a strong southerly wind when you have no rudder, dagger board or ballast. We owe a big thanks to our lovely friend Mark from Christchurch rowing club who allowed us to hitch a lift back out of the bay. We also took the opportunity to toast Doris with champagne and test out our tea making skills with the jet boil.
We also had our final psych session of 2013 with the ever patient Keith. I’m not sure what we would do without him!
We have all enjoyed having a bit of a rest over Christmas and spending time with our families and friends. However we have also been busy preparing for our next exciting event. Doris and the rest of the Coxless Crew will be at the London Boat Show from 4th – 12th January. Come and visit us, meet Doris, have a go at our rowing machine challenge and win prizes including the chance to come out with us on the boat.
We hope you have all had a great Christmas and see in the New Year with a bang! We’ll see you all in 2014!

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Christchurch

We had a lovely day out in Christchurch on Saturday.  Most excitingly Doris is starting to look like a real ocean going boat and has been fitted out with lots of our electronic kit kindly donated by Raymarine.  We also have speakers and vents.  By next weekend we’ll be able to get her out on the water for the first time!! Cue massive excitement!

 

We also made some new friends down at Christchurch rowing club who very kindly allowed us to borrow a couple of boats and go for a row.  It was really great to be out on the water and a nice reminder of why we are actually doing this challenge after the daily challenges of sponsorship hunting and lifting weights in the gym.  Laura was particularly brave going out in a single scull and taking her mobile phone out with her!

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Inspirational Speaker Night

Wow, what a few weeks we have had!

 

First, there was the total rebrand and new website (I hope you’ve all had a chance to take a look around by now) – we’re very proud of it and our gratitude to Steph and Steve who made this all possible is boundless!

 

Last weekend, we had a day of filming down at Mudeford, near Christchurch.  We got to say hello to Doris, she is coming along nicely, with solar panels fitted and the inside cabins taking shape! All starting to feel very real. The new film will be ready in the next week or so, so watch this space! Big thanks to Tom and Dave for the film and edit! =D

 

Of course we have also been squeezing in the usual of training, sponsorship meetings and a little bit of sleep!

 

On top of all of this was our Inspirational Speaker Night Fundraiser, which we held on Monday evening.  It was a huge success! We couldn’t have asked for more, almost 100 people, 4 incredible speakers and we raised just over £2000! There’s always a lot to do when putting on events like this, but what strikes me is the huge generosity of people, all willing and, in fact, wanting to contribute and help! From Butchers’ Hall the incredible venue, to Life’s Kitchen who provided the interval food, to Dave and the team at AzoPrint – their kindness made the night what it was, and we can’t thank them enough.

 

Then of course our amazing speakers – Danny Crates, Dave Cornthwaite, Emily Penn and Martin Hewitt who all kindly gave up their time for free to help us put on the night – Danny hadn’t even met us before!!

 

First up adventurer Dave Cornthwaite revealed his journey.  As a 25-year-old couch potato with all the ‘boxes ticked’ on paper in terms of what a ‘successful Western adult” is supposed to have; a mortgage, a long term girlfriend, a well-paid job and a cat, he realised things were wrong when on his 25th birthday it struck him that the only thing he really loved within those was his cat! So he made a choice. A choice to change things, and, as he so poignantly put it:

“I decided to live according to how I felt, not what was expected of me” “We’re all exactly the same in terms of potential, it just comes down to attitude and choice”

 

He went on to explain what followed.  His first adventure, a 3000 mile skateboard across America through to his current series of challenges as part of Expedition 1000, 25 journeys of 1000 miles or more, each using a different form of non-motorised transport.  He also gave us some good advice about putting on the bullsh*t filters. “Whenever you plan a big adventure people will come up with a lot of negative fears, from overturned boats to shark attacks. You certainly have to take your business seriously but you also have to know when to ignore your critics.”

 

Next up, Martin Hewitt, injured ex-Forces Everest Expedition Leader, had some fantastic advice about understanding your team so you can manage critical pressure situations. “If you don’t really understand each other’s motivations, someone will quit. Understanding why you are all there makes the tough calls work when the time comes”.  Keith our sports psych would agree I’m sure!

Emily Penn, expedition leader and oceans activist thrilled us with tails of life at sea but horrified us with pictures of the enormous plastic gyres she’s studied in the Pacific and Atlantic. She warned us to expect “the sound of pieces of plastic hitting your hull. It’s scary at first but sadly you’ll get used to it”.  She also gave us some useful advice around logistics in the Pacific.

 

Finally Danny Crates, Paralympic 800m world record holder left us with “Life does not throw challenges, or oceans, at you that you cannot handle”. He went on to explain how we could apply this by staying focused on the small, daily changes. “These subtle changes are really hard to implement but they are the things that make a big difference over time”.

 

Danny also helped us walk people through a skeleton of our boat Doris which we had taped up on the floor.  This really helped us to explain what it will be like for us when we are out on the ocean.

 

So we’ll leave you with a massive thank you to our speakers and everyone else who came to and helped out with the speaker night and our own message of inspiration from the night.  “We’ve taken a chance and made the choice to row the Pacific.  We are all committed to the hard work and sacrifices it is going to take to get us to the start line and then across the ocean. We’re creating our own story board and we’d like to ask you what’s yours?”

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