The British Rail Experience - Day 95

JJ Rowers
Jamie Facer-Childs and James Thysse
Thu 23 Jul 2009 14:08

The British Rail Experience

Have you ever sat in a train at the station and had that feeling of “at last we’re off” – only to find that it was the train next to you that was departing and you are still waiting at the station? Add in that when you do get moving you realise you are on the slow train instead of the express and you will begin to understand Jamie and James over these past few weeks.


Ever since the 1000 mile mark JJ have been on the slow train. There have been no announcements telling them why they are stuck outside Mille Station and they haven’t even had British Rail sandwiches to excite them (which they would at this stage in their journey). Fighting against westerly current they tried rowing 2-up for 2 days and made no progress and eventually decided to try going North to 22 degrees.  The decision has been the worst one they have made – they found currents that they could not battle against.  The most depressing thing was to see the weather just to the South (where they had been) suddenly pick up and the Flying Ferkins began to live up to their name – they began to fly and were eating up JJ’s 89 mile lead. 


A race was suddenly on.  JJ changed their tactic and began rowing 2-up for substantial periods but, as Jamie says, “it was like we had run aground”.  Rowing in the current was like rowing through treacle and Flying Ferkins built a 20 mile lead.  Devastated by how their extra effort was making no difference JJ re-doubled their efforts and continued 2-up for longer periods forgoing sleep and this got them back to 2 knots, then 3 knots. Imagine how they felt when they saw that Guy and Andy were still pulling away.  Finally, on day 94, after 17 hours hard exercise but on only 2000 calories per day, they finally realised that they were not as fit and full of energy as they were at the beginning of the race!  I must commend them on their self-awareness! But I must also point out that it might have been a little slow arriving into their consciousness. I was only using logic but still realised that the food intake was too low (and they are also sleep deprived).

Another story I have only partially understood is in regard to their rudder.  Ever since Day 1 the mechanism has been tricky.  The slide mechanism does not slide easily and so, if they want to change direction they have to stop rowing and adjust by hand.  This has got stiffer and stiffer over the weeks such that, now, they can only do jerky, large scale adjustments which results in a lot of Zig-Zag and wasted effort.  Apparently some boats have a system that makes the adjustment automatically linked to a GPS.  I would recommend to anyone mad enough to consider following in their footsteps to begin talking to the right sponsor early on.


JJ were very clear about the respect they have for Guy and Andrew.  Having thrown all they could at preventing them pulling too far ahead, JJ now realise that they have to conserve their energy and manage their food in order to get to Mauritius unsupported.


I am sure that, even if they cannot see it now, their determination, their effort and their disappointment contribute make a rich story of their character. I felt quite (in the English sense of the word) moved listening to Jamie explaining all that they had tried. To quote his favourite poem, “If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster, And treat those two impostors just the same ....... Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it, And - which is more - you'll be a Man, my son!”