Most people who want to challenge themselves run a marathon or give up drinking for a month. For some, however, that is just not enough and we could not be more proud to be sponsoring two former yachties who are taking on an insane challenge.
I went to catch up with Dylan to find out how they have been getting on and to understand exactly what is pushing them to take part in such an epic adventure.
CC: What has been the most difficult part of the process so far?
DJ: Certainly, the biggest challenge so far has been the rebuild of the boat. Although I’ve got all sorts of experience on yachts, including over 18 months in shipyards, I found varnishing and gel coat repairs didn’t help our situation very much. We’ve had to learn how to work with carbon fibre – making moulds of the old seats, rails and oar holders to then make new ones, and to completely redesign the shape of the deck and be mindful of the stability as we redesigned the layout.
CC: How are your sea trials going on your newly built boat?
DJ: Around the long days working on the boat, we’ve also been getting out for sea trials a few times a week over the last two months, which usually end up being late at night until early the next morning as Sam still has his family obligations with two kids under 18 months old. Our sea trials were rarely very strenuous though, as they were more about getting familiar with the boat’s equipment.
CC: There is obviously a lot to do in terms of preparation. What sort of training are you doing to ensure you’re physically ready?
DJ: The training I’ve been doing myself is a mix of physio and stretching (as injury prevention is a huge part of the preparation), weights and circuit training, and 3-4 times a week I’ll sit on the rowing machine for between 1 – 3 hours. When I’m on the rower though I don’t allow myself to listen to music, watch TV or stand up to stretch out my legs, as that is a part of the training to help get used to being bored and deal with the mental challenges of the isolation during the Atlantic Challenge.
CC: Have you found the training tough? The mental challenges sound incredibly difficult.
DJ: We are both quite fit already, as we’ve always maintained a healthy routine, the physical fitness side of it isn’t so much of a worry. It’s the unknown factors that we want to try and prepare ourselves for, like the mental toughness and the strain on your body of rowing 12hrs a day each for anywhere between 40-70 days. No amount of fitness training can prepare you for that. My 1 – 3 hours a day on the rowing machine could be compared to running 100m sprints in preparation for the London marathon, but there just isn’t any other way to do it without then adding the risk of overtraining and injuring yourself before it all begins.
CC: How are you feeling in terms of your mental preparation?
DJ: At the end of the day you just don’t know if you have what it takes until you are in that situation, but I choose to think about the challenge differently to how most people view it. Instead of thinking ONLY 500 people have ever been successful in the Talisker Whiskey Atlantic Challenge and more people on average summit Mt Everest each year than those who have rowed across the Atlantic, I like to think that 500 people is still a lot of people and they have two arms and legs just the same as I do, so if they could get through it then we can too.
CC: So, it’s all about being positive…
DJ: I think having a positive and healthy perspective on what the challenge is will play a big part in the mental challenges we’ll face. Also, we are doing it for Make-A-Wish Foundation because we want to be positive role models to the younger generations to make the most of their health and not to be afraid of taking on big challenges.
CC: It’s so great that you are doing this for such a great charity. What is it that made you take on this particular challenge?
DJ: Neither of us were rowers before we started this challenge, but that is what we have loved so much about it so far. If we can do this then surely anyone else can push the boundaries of their comfort zone as well. The children and teenagers that Make-A-Wish Foundation support through granting wishes may not necessarily have the same opportunities that others who are healthy and able-bodied do. We think it’s great that they provide so much hope to sick children and their families during tough times, and we hope others can recognise this and appreciate what they can accomplish in life.
CC: Are you feeling ready?
DJ: I don’t think we will ever be fully prepared to row across the Atlantic Ocean, but then again I don’t think anyone ever is. We’ll just keep doing the best we can every day until we finally reach the other side in Antigua and it’s all over!
We are so excited to see how you guys get on and will be following your progress all the way, for anyone else wanting to join in the action, check out the Oceanomad website for their news! Or if you’d like to make a donation, you can do so here.