0500 Thursday 5th July the alarm sounded, Duncan and Fraser (like kids on Christmas morning) leapt out of their pits… Shower, breakfast, Coffee on the road from North Yorkshire to Rannoch Adventure in Essex by 0530. We were off to collect the boat, Angus, Charlie and the Rannoch team had kindly agreed to let us take the boat out of production to use for a week of fundraising. Full of excitement the lads pushed on South making great time and even getting the opportunity to chat to ocean rowers past (Chris Shirley, Atlantic Allies) and future, passing on lessons we have learned so far in our campaign.
The boys arrived, in 30 degrees of sunshine to a quiet yard in Burnham on Crouch and there she was… Victory… immaculate in white and shining in the light. The lads hardly dared to look at her to start with but were soon taking her in and sneaking the odd cheeky touch of her hull, like they weren’t really allowed to. Daft really, she’s ours, the fifth member of the team! Lizzie found us, dazed and bewildered, in the carpark, got the brews on and tracked Angus down for the formal introductions. He took us round the boat, structurally she is complete and has had 24 hours on the water to check for leaks but she needs to go back for all the electrical equipment, comms, nav and watermaking kit. She is ours until Sunday 15th July when she needs to be back here in Essex to get completed in time for final delivery in August so we can start training in earnest on the North Sea. The clock was ticking, so after a quick brew, a Pistol squat lesson with Laura Try in the car park and a butty it was back behind the wheel with Victory in tow.
One of our Sponsors, Drive by Media, had us lined us up to drop the boat in Shipley at the vinyl wrappers by 1630 that afternoon to give them all day Friday and Monday morning to apply the sponsor logos before the Great Yorkshire Show, where we were due to be in place by Monday lunchtime. You can imagine our frustration when we ground to a halt in traffic on the M11 30 minutes into our return journey. It quickly became apparent we weren’t going to make it on time, but the team kicked in and phonecalls were made, emails sent and deals done and we arranged an 0730 drop off the following morning and a late arrival to the show on Monday. Phew. Welcome to Yorkshire, another sponsor of ours, had a MASSIVE job on that week arranging and running their marquee, corralling all us stall holders and co-ordinating suppliers, guests, caterers etc, not to mention getting 20 tons of Bridlington sand shipped in for the manmade beach, thanks you so much for being flexible with us and taking it all in your stride, your admin is second to none! Sorry you ALL had to suffer Duncans Alpaca joke.
Duncan took Glyn and Will to Shipley on Monday for their first look at the newest member of the team, only now of course she was looking super smart in her reflective silver wrap and sporting all the logos of our awesome corporate sponsors. Glyn jumped in the Drive by Media Landrover, also newly wrapped, and towed her across Yorkshire and on to the Welcome to Yorkshire stand at the Great Yorkshire Showground ready to be unveiled to the public when the gates opened at 0730 on Tuesday morning. I can tell you, you get some funny looks and double takes towing a 8.5m silver and white torpedo through rural Yorkshire, she was clearly going to make quite an impact.
Tuesday was crazy!! Red hot, relentless sunshine and super busy. We were interviewed, questioned, photographed, filmed, we met the inspirational Niki Doeg from the Yorkshire Rows, the actual Calendar Girls (kisses all round too), the Yorkshire Vet Peter Wright and Mr Yorkshire himself, Sir Gary Verity. We were approached by some more local companies looking to join the team, watch this space for some exciting announcements coming soon. Our Gold sponsors, Grantley Hall, also had a stand on the Welcome to Yorkshire site just a few feet away from the boat so it was really cool to spend some time with them and meet so many members of the team, especially as Duncan is now a member of both.
Sir Gary introduced us to the crowd at the afterhours BBQ, generating even more interest from potential sponsors and we met even more, genuinely lovely people, most of whom thought we were crazy but all offered us their prayers and best wishes. After a great feed and a pint of Yorkshire Ale we had to move the boat to the Military village on the other side of the showground that night in order to be on parade at 0730 sharp the next morning. Wednesday and Thursday proved just as hot but were able to engage with hundreds of school kids, military folk and inquisitive members of the public wondering what on earth a boat was doing at the GYS which is essentially an agricultural show. Top three questions, in no particular order were, what do you eat? Where do you sleep? Where do you poo?
Another of our sponsors, Lifelab Testing, were on hand to help out, which meant we could get away for interviews and meetings while they looked after the boat and engaged with the crowds. They did such an awesome job and had their ocean rowing patter down to a tee, I reckon they’d have a fair stab at the 2019 race. Go on Carl, you know you want too!! We would like to take this opportunity to thank Carl, Ian and Paige for their help, their smiles and the awesome offer to help us even further by sourcing our snack bars for the row in conjunction with their in house Nutrionist, Sian, to make sure we stay fuelled up and putting power down as efficiently as possible during the race.
After three long, 15 hour plus days we packed the boat up and all the paraphernalia and shipped home…. for 5 hours sleep before we towed the boat to the York Racecourse for the John Smiths race meet on Friday and Saturday. Again, we were looked after brilliantly by the whole racecourse team who couldn’t do enough to help. They arranged for an interview on the big screens to explain to the 32000 strong crowd why there was a boat at the entrance to a horse racing event and whet their appetites and kept us in tea and coffee like champions. One young man on a Stag Do, Jimmy, came good on the horses and made a really generous donation which blew our minds and the Race course team invited us back for the last race of the year in October. We can’t wait to go back and will proudly be adding their logo to Victory’s livery.
Glyn’s Father in law took pity on us sunburned and exhausted wrecks and offered to take Victory back to Rannoch HQ for us on Sunday. We owe him a pint and a roast dinner for that one for sure. That was one of the most productive 11 days of the whole campaign and in no small part thanks to having Victory there with us. Its going to be a long few weeks without her… next stop… North Sea.
Here we will be keeping you up to date with all our musings pre, during and post competing in the Atlantic Challenge race that started 12th December 2018.