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Date: 16 Mar 2010 12:48:48
Title: Day 71 - 75 Miles to go!!!!!!

Hello Everyone,


Well, I’ve had to “re focus” as you may recall in one of my previous blogs that I was expecting the crossing to take between 60-70 days and we’re now on day 71. 60-70 days was a worse case scenario as I actually thought it would be quicker as the average crossing time for a Men’s pair from the last race was 53 days but I find it better to prepare for the worse and then everything else is a bonus. As you can see from how long it has taken us so far that the weather hasn’t been favourable this year. However, I’m not upset because the weather is out of our control and we’ve rowed as hard as we could do. We are so close to fulfilling a dream I will be smiling all the way to the finish line.


Rich takes the weather personally although I always look for the positives and in my view there are lots…………..

-          We are both physically fit and well (obviously a few aches and pains but it has made me realise that when the human body is fed, watered and rested properly it is the best machine of all).

-          Red Arrow is performing brilliantly and cutting through the water really well.

-          Our electrics have never failed and are working perfectly.

-          We have plenty of food left on board and would have never starved or had to call the support yachts to top us up – which would have disqualified us. In hindsight we should have brought more snack packs (chocolates, nuts etc).

-          The water maker has only stopped once and continues to pump out 30 litres an hour.

-          Our steering system and rudder (which are prone to go wrong on Ocean rowing boats) has only required one knot to be re-tied during the whole trip and has been faultless.  

-          We still have all our 150 litres of ballast water available for an emergency.

-          We have our loved ones waiting for us in Antigua.

-          The sun has shone for 71 days so far and I’ve escaped one of the worst winters on record in the UK!


To me, we are very lucky to be in the position we are and have so many positives. I feel so bad for the boats that are towards the back of the fleet that may have another month left at sea. We are almost finished and will hopefully achieve something we can be proud of for the rest of our lives.


Some recent news onboard HMS Red Arrow……………


Reaching 100m to go & 60 degrees West –          Last night at about 22:00 we pretty much reached these milestones at the same time and we’re now seeing the GPS with a double figure countdown.


New Shift Pattern -                         As soon as I finish this blog we’re changing shift patterns to try and eat up the miles to the finish line. I will row for 3 hours and for the first hour of this I will row on my own. After the first hour Richie will join in for the remaining 2 hours and we’ll be “2 up”. After the 3 hours is finished I will stop and have one hour rest where I’ll eat and possibly sleep. Rich will then row his last hour of his 3 hour shift on his own and then get the same hour rest before the cycle starts again. We’ll try and maintain this until we finish although it will be brutal.


Seeing Land –                                    I can’t wait to shout, “Land Ahoy Richie!” I’ve wanted to say this since we left La Gomera as we haven’t seen land for 68 days now. We should start seeing Antigua from about 30/40 miles away and it will be easier to see at night first.


Food on Arrival -                              Laura and Hannah are working with Woodvale in Antigua who are arranging arrival food (within reason) for the rowers when we hit land. What a nice gesture and I hope Rich and I get a table for 2 next to our mooring. Although I’d love a roast dinner no matter what time of the day I arrive I’ve actually asked for a Milkshake, a bowl of Crunchy Nut and a fully loaded burger. What a nice breakfast that will make!


An amazing email -                         Since we’ve been at sea we’ve been overwhelmed by the amount of people who have contacted us with messages of support. Most days we’ll get between 15 to 50 text messages from people all over the world. We also receive a steady stream of emails which are so encouraging. I’ve heard from people who I’d lost touch with and it’s made me realise that if you sod off and do some crazy people make the effort to get in touch!


At the very bottom of this blog is an amazing email we received yesterday and I want to share it with you. It is amazing for 2 reasons;

1. I have only met Matt once for a few hours one afternoon during January 2009 in Perth. Matt and 3 friends were a team in the inaugural Woodvale Indian (Perth to Mauritius) Ocean Rowing Race which started in April 2009. Their bilge pump was incorrectly fitted and let water onboard which had filled their compartments and they had to retire from the race after less than a week. When I was in Perth I rang Matt up out of the blue to go and see how his campaign was going and all that we have in common is a dream of rowing an Ocean. Sadly, Matt’s dream hasn’t yet come true but mine is looking likely.  For the effort that Matt put into his campaign and the level of support that Matt has shown us he deserves to have crossed an Ocean.

2. It isn’t often an Aussie is rooting for a Pommy in a race! S


Enough from me, my 3 hour shift is calling. Richie is likely to do a short blog tomorrow and then I have one more I want to send and we’ll also try and do one a week or so after we reach land.


The final push coming up……………COME ON RED ARROW!


Thank you for all your support.


The row must go on – Antigua here we come!





Thanks to the following  people for getting in touch with various good luck messages, jokes, quotes, stories or general words of wisdom;  The Swedish Sechari’s, Pricey & Aunty C.  


A couple of personal messages from me……………..


Everyone in Antigua -            Not long now and we can’t wait.


Pebble -                               I haven’t forgotten and the bet is still on!!!


Sam Manning -                    Yep, I’ll be there for the wedding. Double portions please and I can’t wait to see all the family.


Nelson -                               Your quotes are better than your jokes! I hope the training is going well for London to Paris.


Coach Amy -                       Stop stalking Olly and writing on his wall, he’s emailing us all the time because he doesn’t know how to tell you!


CHD -                                    I can’t believe we drew with you lot at Murrayfield! Thanks for the email and your tasteful joke. Catch up when I get back.


Gunny -                                5 pints over 4 days is impressive mate, well done!


Ann, Luc, Katie & Gemma Scotts              -              Thanks for the email and I look forward to meeting you at wedding.




From: Matt Hort

To: "Rich & Tom"

Sent: Monday, March 15, 2010 1:52 AM

Subject: Soak it up


I am taking off again with work and expect that you may have reach Antigua by the time I get the chance to look again.  (Rich) I'm not hoping you will be there because I know hope can be a heartless mistress.  It is simply with a sense of knowing.
I'm sending this email with the understanding that you may read it and think, "Well it's easy for him to say that from the comfort of normal life....fuck him".  But it needs to be said....
Firstly...well done for simply daring.  Was it a good decision to throw away a big chunk of money, put yourselves through extreme hardship and discomfort, turn your back on the attentions of those who love you for 18 months and then worry them to death while you are at the oceans mercy?  Of course not...it is completely irrational.  No sensible person would even contemplate it.  However, it is not sensible people who achieve great things.  It is those precious few who wonder.  Not dream...but wonder.  In my experience most dreamers are wankers.  Walking around with there heads in the air, dreaming about all sorts of things without ever commiting to doing something about it.  In Australian terms the worst kind of dreamer is a "Gunna" (going to do this, going to do that) but never get around to it.  You are both in that group of unique people who wondered what it would be like and then set about making it happen.  You wondered about it, said you would do it and have done it.  That makes you both very special now and always.
Ok...that was the easy to swallow bit...
Very soon your journey will be over.  Or should I say nightmare.  Or adventure.  Or are there adequate words to describe the experience...probably not...and that's my point.  You've spent the last 69 days wishing for what you are about to receive...real food, loved ones, proper bed, a shower, a beer and someone elses company.  It will be amazing when this all happens.  It will overload you senses and will probably be sureal.  And then you'll wake up the next day and it will be fantastic to catch up with everyone.  Wonderful to eat fresh fruit.  Not have some prick calling you for your shift.  Not having to experience the pain of your first five minutes and your last 20 minutes on the oars.  And before you know it...your body and mind will adapt (as it did when you started the race).  It will quickly accept your new reality.  And before you know it, the memory of your journey will be less clear.
Your race finish must be the most amazing experience of your lives.  At the same time I implore you both to use every waking minute soaking up your here and now.  The sore arse and hands, the joy of tail winds, the hate for head winds, the relationship with the ocean (and marine life), the revolting food and the monotony of your shift.  We spend so much of our lives looking forward that sometimes we forget to appreciate the immediate experience.  I'm sure you are probably thinking "He's tapped, we've been experiencing every second of this shit for months".  Your journey will have redefined who you are.  Amongst your excitement at finishing, remember to indulge yourselves in the experience with each other prior to the rush.
I don't believe either of you have been crippled...quite the opposite...you've recalibrated your understanding of a bad day and now have a greater perspective.
It has been a pleasure and honour to be able to share in your journey.
Gentlemen, may every second of the next 127 miles be burned into memory.  May you never forget the humility that the ocean reminds us.  May your celebrations with your girlfriends and family go for days.  May you appreciate each others strengths and weaknesses for life.
I salute you.

Matt Hort

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