Row Yer Boat

life of lia

Row Yer Boat

Our hot, but slightly crazy friend Lia Ditton is competing in the Woodvale Atlantic Rowing Race  – a pretty nutty thing to do, but she’s doing well – 5th at this point. here’s a bit from her blog…

January 11th.  Sunday morning, matt black, seas 1-2ft; Sunday evening racing orange! Seas 4-6ft. Simon Payne used to tease me that sailing single-handed race boats was mostly DIY at 20kts! Racing an Ocean Rowing boat, I would have to admit appears to be much the same – only at an average of 2kts! While 2kts might be a little more pedestrian and therefore seemingly easier, it’s not when the boat is as small as a bean husk, bops around like it’s a bath toy and is the modern day version of a dug-out canoe!

January 12th.  Monday, combusting magnesium magenta, seas 8-10ft; evening, Sapphire Blue gin bottle blue, seas 6-8ft. Our first bit of really exciting news arrived by text message a couple of days ago. The message said that apart from Charlie, who has an unfair advantage, yours was the best overnight run. Towards the end of my first 3.5 hour watch, I was struggling to keep up the pace. My eyes were sore. So I shut them and continued rowing with my eyes shut! In learning to sail ‘Foncia,’ Alain Gautier’s 60ft trimaran, I was encouraged to helm with my eyes shut in order to ‘feel the boat’ and so to learn to respond intuitively to the boat’s motion. At the oars, it was no different.

January 13th.  Tuesday, Ivory white, seas 10ft. Mick was yanked off the rowing seat by the oars. The wave ramps which were yeeha and fun earlier in the evening had become mean and aggressive. Meanwhile news of our position arrived and much encouraged we paddled hard into the night. By morning, both of us had been knocked off the seat, were sporting bruises to the chins, knees and thighs and were feeling generally beaten up.

January 14th.  Wednesday, ash grey, seas 6-8ft. Last night’s waves were much kinder and by this morning, comparatively, it was like rowing through silk. By the end of my watch however, it felt like the seat carriage was rolling over rocks. Our second bearing to go within 2 days so I spent the next 2 hours replacing all the wheels. The consequence of this fix-it effort was that I became sleep deprived and while Mick kindly allowed me to oversleep half an hour, this set us both back on the energy stakes for most of the day. Performance-wise, we are extremely motivated by our position in the fleet.

January 15th. Thursday, strawberry milkshake pink! Seas 6ft. Speed, I was thinking last night, is all relative. As I was ploughing the field in my middle-of-the-night watch, a refreshingly cool tail breeze blowing in my face, I thought we must have been moving along at a fair old clop. Then I looked immediately to my left and right. The waves beside us were just lapping nonchalantly. I bet they were sniggering at me! I felt like I was the driver of one of those wind-up bath frogs, where the legs go nuts wheeling round in circles, while the frog barely moves an inch along the bath!

January 16th.  Friday, translucent jade, seas 1-3ft. I was reflecting last night, upon what I might take from this experience. The waves and how we ride them can be the difference between one or two extra knots- FREE knots of boat speed. They scarcely exist when the wind doesn’t blow, unless they’re hung over from a previous system further away. Wave patterns, directions, sequencing, types… this knowledge must lend something to my sailing in the future?