We’re just back from an intrepid voyage South of the Border into deepest Yorkshire (specifically the barracks at Ripon) to have our boat inspected by the Atlantic Campaigns Team. This was a softer version of the pre-race inspection we’ll go through in La Gomera, where in the past teams have been failed and prevented from racing until their boat’s issues have been resolved…so it was a little stressful!
The boat was packed up and left Scotland around 6am driven by Fraser, who, doubtless to get some sleep deprivation training in, had pulled an all-nighter at work and got to bed at 4am. The minute the inspection was over he curled up in the back of the car and was out like a light.
Ripon was chosen as it’s the base for The Salty Sappers – a crew of Royal Engineers who’ll be racing this year too – and a halfway house between us and Wrekin Rowers, another TWAC 21 crew who hail from Shropshire. Nerves about the inspection aside, it was great to talk to all of these guys and share the challenges we’re all going through to get to the start line, and (like all of the crews we’ve encountered thus far) they were all really nice lads. The Sappers even had a barbeque fired up!
The inspection involved laying out all of our kit in a pre-arranged pattern so everything could be cross checked and any missing items noted. Despite having the majority of the kit we need on the enormous and exhaustive list, we still have a large number of upgrades, spares and ‘on-order’ items that will need to be checked in La Gomera.
Although the kit list is seemingly huge, it has been refined over the years by Atlantic Campaigns to keep the boat functioning and the crew alive. There’s just not room for spares for everything and with five of us on board we’ll have a very limited space for personal items, so Dunc may have to leave his teddy bears at home.
Our inspection was done by Fraser Mowlem, the assistant safety officer for the race. We’d met him virtually before as he ran the day-long zoom course on Ocean Rowing that we completed earlier in the year. The man’s a font of wisdom and was really helpful as we went through the inspection process.
As the spreadsheet king, Clive was in his element and before long all boxes were ticked, Fraser M gave us a figurative pat on the head and a biscuit for being good boys and wagons rolled Northwards to get us home before the natives remembered they can still legally shoot a Scotsman with a bow and arrow from the walls of York.