Categories
Blog Training

Coastal Scull Loan!

I suppose by now we thought we’d be able to get out and train together in the same boat or gym. To be honest we’d take training in the same garden right now! We’ve started using a great online platform called Ergworld which lets us link up our rowing machine monitors and train together virtually, but it’s not quite the same as being on the water. Luckily we’ve been given a great alternative!

Just before Christmas we bought 4 pairs of Concept 2 sweep oars for our Atlantic crossing from the great guys at Oarsport, and when they heard about our challenge they very kindly offered us the loan of the new Wintech Coastal Single Scull, which has been developed to compete in FISA coastal rowing competitions, for a few weeks. And it’s great!

Having this single scull has allowed us to get out onto the water whilst restrictions prevent us from training together, so it’s been a fantastic tool to help us learn how to scull! As you’ll see from the footage, none of us are scullers so it’s been quite a steep learning curve to go from pulling one big sweep oar in a 4 man skiff to feathering 2 oars in a finely balanced racing shell, but it feels like it’s improving our technique as well as forcing us to be more flexible in the hips to absorb the waves – something we’ll have to get very used to on the Atlantic!

The model we’ve been using is the carbon fibre-based racing shell, but the same design can also be constructed using cheaper materials to produce an affordable alternative for those who’d rather explore than race. If you’re interested, get in touch with the guys at Oarsport for more information.

Categories
Blog Charity

Big Night In

Reverse Rett is our chosen charity as you know, and they host an annual fundraising dinner at this time of year. Ordinarily this is in a fancy London venue and everyone gets dressed up for an evening’s food, entertainment and enriching spirits. This year they decided to take this party online rather than cancel it altogether, and hosted a really successful evening featuring musicians, a magician, interviews and stories, Matt Smith, Romesh Ranganathan, Russell Howard… and us!

We agreed to donate the prize of a day trip with us on our ocean rowing boat around the beautiful Firth of Forth where we live, and they asked if we could be interviewed as part of the show. Of course we agreed and you can watch our section from the show below.

Watch our interview from the online show

The Big Night In online was a huge success – instead of the 500 guests they are limited to by the venue, there were 2000 tickets sold for the online show and some amazing prizes on the silent auction and prize draw. We were amazed by how much was bid to spend a day with us and are delighted that we could support the evening.

As I write this the finally tally for the evening hasn’t yet been finalised, but by the end of the show itself the total was already over £53,000 which I think is an astonishing amount for an online show!

Categories
Blog Race updates

2020 race going ahead!

Much to everyone’s relief, the 2020 Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge will be going ahead as normal, with the race starting 1 month from now (squeaky bum time)! Atlantic Campaigns who organise the race have been working hard to ensure that competitors are able to stay as safe as possible during the pre-race run up in La Gomera and it looks like most of the crews will still be competing.

Sadly for some crews, travel restrictions have meant they’ve had to postpone their campaigns for a year or even two. We’ve been chatting to The Pacific Boys from the USA, who should have been racing this year, but had to defer, and were on the waiting list for our race in 2021. The great news for them is that they’ve had their place confirmed, so we’ll (hopefully) be able to share some beers with them in La Gomera next year!

Boats getting ready to start from La Gomera

Having to delay is far from ideal when you’ve spent so much time building up fundraising and fitness, and mentally gearing yourself towards the challenge, so we really feel for the crews who haven’t been as lucky at securing places yet and really hope that the pandemic doesn’t adversely affect our crossing.

Because of crews like The Pacific Guys coming into the fleet, our race is now full with 37 boats taking part! It’s going to be some race! Seeing the crews we’ve been following on social media making their last preparations is just about giving me heart failure with the amount of work we still have to do before our race starts in 13 months time.

But at least we have some big news on our race boat coming very soon!

Categories
Blog Charity

Ross’ blog

Ross has started writing a blog for our chosen charity Reverse Rett to keep everyone involved with the charity up to date on our progress. There’s a copy of his first entry below but you can also stay up to date with the blog on the My Challenge of a Lifetime section of the Reverse Rett website.

My Challenge of a Lifetime

By Ross McKinney

Ross (2nd left) and the Five in a Row team

Four years ago, and nearing the age of 40, I took up rowing for the first time. I never rowed at. University or even gave it much thought in my youth, apart from maybe a pootle around a duckpond on holiday. Living by the sea in North Berwick is a blessing and there are loads of amazing opportunities to get out on the water. After my first outing in a St Ayles skiff (a four-oared wooden rowing boat), I was hooked. What started as the odd social row soon became competitive training, racing at regattas and even taking home a bronze medal from the Skiffie World Championships.

Fast forward four years and I am now part of a 5-man crew aiming to race across the Atlantic Ocean!

Five In A Row has entered the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge and will be competing in the 2021 race from the Canary Islands to Antigua. It is 3000 miles across the ocean and we will be racing 24/7 for 5-6 weeks. It is going to be a huge physical challenge and is also going to test our mental strength not to mention our friendship, as we will be living in extremely close proximity! What keeps my focus is that my personal challenge is nothing compared to what my daughter, Eliza, has to go through every day. If I ever need inspiration at sea, it will be her strength to fight Rett Syndrome that keeps me going.

Ross and Eliza

Four of our crew (Duncan, Ian, Clive and myself) are based in North Berwick and actively involved in the local community and the Scottish coastal rowing scene. Fraser is based in Perthshire, many miles from the sea, but is a keen adventurer and sportsman. During the long days of lockdown, we have had the welcome distraction of planning for the event.


The race does not start until December 2021, but our campaign is already underway! There is a huge amount of preparation – from sourcing a
boat, kitting out the boat, planning our meals, working out our rowing schedule, completing safety courses…..and of course lots of physical training!

The other major challenge is how we are going to fund all of this and get us to the start line, as well as raising as much as we possibly can for Reverse
Rett! My emotions going into this campaign have been all over the place, from excitement at the challenge ahead, fear as to what the ocean may throw at us and not to mention what the impact of Covid-19 may mean for our plans.

It is also an incredibly selfish adventure to take on, as it will mean leaving Catherine, our four young children and two dogs for about two months (and overChristmas!). In fact it was Catherine who told me to go for it in the end and has been incredibly supportive of the whole venture – for that I am very lucky! I’m also extremely proud to be able to support Reverse Rett. The Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge attracts a huge following and media coverage, so I am very keen that we can use this to raise awareness of the charity and the amazing work that they do.

We have a huge range of both corporate and personal sponsorship options for anybody who would like to support us, including becoming a “stowaway” on our boat for £250 and having your name or even your child’s name on the inside of our boat, so they can accompany us across the Atlantic!

We are looking to establish regional ambassadors to support our campaign and help our fundraising for Reverse Rett. If you think you could help with contacts or fundraising, please get in touch via ross@fiveinarow.co.uk or via social media.

You can follow our progress on Instagram @five.row and Facebook and find out more by visiting our website

It might all be the start of a midlife crisis, but you only live once!