2019: It's All Oar Nothing

This is the year. 352 days until we set off on our small boat from La Gomera, Spain, hoping to arrive in English Harbour, Antigua around 40 days later. We thought this would be a good time to look at the year we have ahead. We’re finding what many have told us to be true - over half the battle is making it to the start line.

January

Whilst Tom looks to recover from an injured back (spending time in the physio room, pilates studios and stretching in extreme amounts), the rest of the team will be building strength with the help of our specialist trainer Gus Barton.

February

The million metre challenge? More to come.

March to April

Building on strength - generally the team train five times a week with three strength sessions, one conditioning session and one rowing session. On top of this, we stretch for 30 minutes seven times a week. As well as strength, mobility is key.

May

For the first time since we drunkenly decided to row the Atlantic at a wedding 16 months ago, the team will be back together. Lewis and Chris fly to Devon early in the month for a 10 day training course with SeaSports (our newly announced sponsor for this year). An interesting fact - the main hub in the entire world for training to row an ocean is about a mile from where we all grew up. Convenient.

After that, we hope to hold a couple of fund-raising events in Devon, before travelling up to Essex for more training - for the first time, we’ll meet our new boat and get out at sea for a few days with Rannoch Adventure.

After all of that, we will be holding our main launch event in London at the HAC, Moorgate. We want as many family, friends and anyone remotely interested to attend. Full details of the event can be found here. It promises to be a fantastic evening of fun and entertainment so please confirm your tickets if you can.

June to October

After May, everyone will have to work back into the flow of their full-time jobs - Lewis - finding himself in Sydney in the market of cutting edge software development (no-one predicted this), Chris - keeping the legal peace in Singapore, Charlie - the brainchild of the group, making complicated maths in London and Tom - continuing to grow his start-up Athletic Tea Co. - no one predicted this either!

However, we’ll still be working flat out to prepare everything for December. We’ll be on the water for at least two or three days each month from now, getting used to how the boat works and developing the key skills needed at sea.

November

Chris and Lewis will be back in Devon for the team to come together again. We hope to have at least two or three more weeks of team-building, preparing our food and mentally getting ready for the toughest challenge of our lives.

December

In early December we fly to La Gomera, just off the coast of Africa, where we will have a further two weeks to make sure everything is ready for our boat to depart into the wilderness.

Depending on the weather, we aim to start the race on 12 December 2018, taking around 40 days to complete the trip. You can visit the challenge page of our website to read more about the conditions at sea but needless to say, we're expecting it to be a very tough time. We'll only be able to sleep for an hour or two at a time for the entire trip and are hopeful / not hopeful of encountering sharks and whales. Not your usual adventure… but I don't think we’d have any other way.

The boys still need to raise a significant amount of money to be able to row the Atlantic this year and after that will donate all proceeds to our four chosen charities. If you know of anyone willing to support us, (from as little as £1), please send them here. Individuals and small companies can also join the 250 club by using this link.

Wish us luck this year and follow along on our Instagram - drop us a message if you're thinking about taking on a similar challenge and don't know where to start.

Let’s go 2019.

Tom, Chris, Lewis and Charlie

2018: A Summary

"The will to succeed is important, but what's more important is the will to prepare."
Bobby "The General" Knight, Champion Basketball Coach 

As this is the first in what we hope will be a series of All Oar Nothing blog-posts, we wanted to use this as an opportunity to give a recap of 2018 so far and the beginning of our journey to try to row unassisted across the Atlantic. 2018 has involved some wild underestimations for the team, but, as Henry Ford put it, “The only real mistake is the one from which we learn nothing.”

Part 1:  “Never underestimate your ability to underestimate”
Chris Slack, All Oar Nothing - mid-108km ultra-trail marathon (August 2018)

#1: Australia is scary - The Atlantic will (probably) be scarier

December 2017: Chris joined Lewis in Western Australia as they lined up together to tackle Ironman Western Australia. Chris’ first trip to Australia went very "Australian-ny" - the swim was cancelled due to a shark, the bike course caught fire (just as the boys successfully made it through), 200+ competitors pulled out due to the soaring 37 degree hit and some poor bloke got taken out by a rogue kangaroo! Thankfully, Chris and Lewis made it through. Buoyed by their (still less than stellar performances) it was in the immediate aftermath, lying on a beach – beer in hand - that they both confirmed their place in the AON team - as the saying goes, "marry in haste, repent at leisure". 

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#2: “Boys, I’m running to Paris, from London...next week

A few weeks before 24hour row (but more on that later)…

When cycling the length of a continent and running across Iceland isn't enough, the obvious next step is to take part in another world record attempt for the fastest run from London to Paris. In recurring theme, Tom - aligned with the AON mentality of giving it a go and hoping for the best and having been unable to train properly since his exploits in Iceland – decided to take part in this challenge on a week's notice. After amassing a very impressive 90km on day one, on day two, exhausted and swaying across a busy French motorway, Tom valiantly retired to allow his running partner (and big AON supporter) Jack to continue towards Paris the next morning – who arrived on the Champs-Elysees the day after having covered over 250km.

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#3: What a difference a day makes. Twenty-four little hours.

Whilst January 2018 marked the unofficial start of the preparation for the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge, the first (modest) target for AON was to complete a non-stop 24 hour indoor row across three continents simultaneously - with Charlie and Tom in London, Chris in Singapore and Lewis in Sydney. It did not take long – just 40km on the rower one Saturday in Sydney - for Lewis and Chris to realise the importance of having a teammate by their side and three continents quickly became two as (having drawn the short straw) Lewis flew 2,000 miles to Singapore for 48 hours (to basically sit indoors and stare at a wall) – how jet set.  Aside from the blisters and the boredom, the 24 hour row was a huge success for AON, providing some great publicity and much needed sponsorship, whilst collectively rowing over 887,000 metres! Charlie deserves a mention for coming within 25km of a new world record! Will he come close in the future?

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#4: The Elephant (Trail) in the room

Clearly having not learnt from Tom's London to Paris experience, Lewis and Chris embarked on a few months of haphazard ultramarathon training ahead of the Elephant Trail 108km Ultramarathon in Port Macquarie, NSW - this is a good time to refresh yourself with the title of this blog post. The ETR is a 4 lap race each lap consisting of 1,500m of vertical climbing and 27k of single-track trail. It took less than 15km for the boys to realise just how much trouble they were in and after covering just under 55km in a little over 9 hours it was time (for the first time in either of their lives) that they had to raise the white-flag. Admitting they had not prepared properly, however was not as painful as having to call Lewis' girlfriend Nicolle to come back – having confidently told her to head off for the day –and pick them up so that they could retire to the nearest pub to debrief.

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Part 2 - "Failure isn't fatal, but failure to change might be"
John Wooden

New Plan. Same Mission

The experiences this year have taught AON an important and but really bloody painful lesson when it comes to physical preparation - DO NOT UNDERESTIMATE THE ATLANTIC OCEAN, the boys cannot simply decide it’s time for a beer and get Nicolle to rescue them. Monday August 20th was the start of a fresh new approach to training, the AON crew have enlisted the help and experience of Gus Barton (https://www.gusbartonfitness.com/), Personal Trainer and former Talisker Atlantic Champion and World Record Holder to whip the boys in to elite Ocean Rowers.

What we’ve learned so far?

  1. Flexibility and Mobility are key. AND Years of rugby, football, cricket, water polo, triathlon and (other than Tom) weight training, have left us all about as flexible as a wooden beam.

  2. Heavier isn't necessarily better. Simple exercises we had no idea even existed really hurt.

  3. We have a lot to learn. Although he probably hates us already, Gus has been invaluable in answering a constant stream of questions across three time zones.

The training is proving effective already - as exercises become slightly easier, the range of motion improves along with technique and collaboration among the team at an all-time high. This is despite looking like weirdos in the gym rolling around on the floor for the first 30 minutes of a session.

Part 3 – "Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much"
Helen Keller

Sponsorship & Partnerships

AON's sponsorship effort so far has started well with over £35,000 raised –including over £5,000 during the 24 hour row. Whilst the team spends a lot of time actively reaching out to potential sponsors, if you would like to (or know anyone who would like to) support our efforts and ultimately raise much needed funds for four incredible charities, please visit: https://www.alloarnothing.co.uk/sponsor to find out more). 

AON in the Media

AON have been featured in Devon Life Magazine and the Teignmouth Post.

Team captain

“Leadership is something you earn, something you’re chosen for.”
Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback

Lastly, over the past few months and after speaking to a number of ex-finishers and psychologists it became clear that we needed to appoint a team captain for when we are at sea. This person will ultimately make the final decision and has to be comfortable making a potential life/death decision for the team. In a unanimous vote, Charlie has been appointed as captain and charged with steering us towards Antigua – it probably helps that he is the best (and only) rower among us.

Summary

It’s been a hell of a year so far, with plenty more to come. The biggest lesson isn’t really a lesson at all, it’s solidifying Benjamin Franklin’s infamous words ‘Failing to prepare is preparing to fail”. Taking this year in their stride the team is now looking forward to 16 months of hard work, planning and preparation for the challenge of a life time. With some amazing corporate partners, a world class coach and a decisive captain - the team is very excited for what is to come..

Thank you for your support and we look forward to sharing the highs (and lows) of our Atlantic preparation with you over the coming months. 

All Oar Nothing

Website: https://www.alloarnothing.co.uk/ 

E-mail: hello@alloarnothing.co.uk