Near miss

JJ Rowers
Jamie Facer-Childs and James Thysse
Sat 23 May 2009 14:22
Near miss

Where would you go for a bit of peace and quiet? The middle of the Indian Ocean? Can’t be too much happening down there.
Well since Jamie and James set off on 19th April a lot has been happening. Unexpectedly – at least to them – they have had the worst storms for years. Alternating between battening down in their tiny cabin and rowing together in the hope of making at least some progress against strong winds they have had a capsize, bleeding buttocks, claw hands and leaks and electrical failures to contend with. They have certainly learnt to love their little boat that has seen them through all of these safely.
However, the latest incident was definitely not on the agenda. After 12 hours rowing together (trying desperately to make some progress against the wind) the youngest pair in the race retired to the cabin for some well-earned shut-eye. Some very bright lights then awoke them. "Where am I; turn that bloody light off; don’t waste electricity" were just some of the milder comments that passed their lips until they remembered where they were and the impossibility of the situation dawned on them. A Martian spaceship was the next thought as they scrambled out onto the deck to see an enormous tanker with lights blazing merrily bearing down on them. It came so close that the boys felt they could have jumped aboard – optimistic because they now realise it was 20 yards away!
The joy of seeing civilisation was not the emotion that rose in their breasts. In this vast ocean the chances must be thousands if not millions to one to have such a close shave. All the more extraordinary, therefore, when I managed to speak to them about it. "Lucky we didn’t see it earlier – gave us no time to worry. By the time we were aware the danger was almost passed." These lads seem to take everything in their stride and get on with the job. I continue to be impressed by their ability to remain calm and professional. Even more impressive, given the sores and the setbacks, is the continuing optimism and positive outlook they show. Tensions between them? "No – its fun dad.
I would be happy to have both of them on my team any day. Living near Heathrow we hear about near misses all the time. This was not what we or they expected in the middle of the Indian Ocean. Good luck (you still need some) and see you in Mauritius.
Roy Childs
Jamie’s dad