Just over a week ago my 21 year old son Luke and his best friend Jamie (the 2 Boys in a Boat), started the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge - a 3,000 mile rowing race across the Atlantic. If they complete the race they will break the world record for the youngest team to row the Atlantic.
I'd been dreading their departure day but that morning there was a power cut here at Doddington - the farm-shop/café/Christmas tree business my husband and I run in Lincolnshire. So instead of worrying about the boys leaving, I was frantically running around in a state of panic. It was certainly a distraction from the boys' departure! In fact, Luke rang to say goodbye and had to leave an answer machine message as no one was there to pick up the phone!
The weather hasn't been ideal so far. They've had at least three days of winds blowing against them and pushing them back the way they came. It's hard thinking of them trying to be brave as the sea tosses their tiny boat all over the place. We've also heard reports of 15 foot waves and another boat that started leaking so badly that all five crew members had to be air-lifted to safety. Not the sort of thing any mother wants to hear!
We can send the boys texts and Caroline, Jamie's mother, has compiled a 'seamail' of good wishes from the boys' family, friends and supporters. But, although the boys have a satellite phone, we're not really supposed to call them. A badly timed phone call from someone close can wreak havoc with fragile confidence and focus when the conditions are so extreme. The first week of the race is said to be absolutely horrendous as minds, digestive systems, muscles, skin and hands get used to the brutal rowing routine of two hours on, two hours off.
Instead we have to wait for the boys to call us and they had originally told us they wouldn't ring us for two to three weeks. However, just two days into the race, Caroline received her first phone call from Jamie. I'm glad they called her; if it had been Luke calling us I would have assumed there had been some kind of disaster! Although Caroline got a brief description of how they were ('tired' as the first 24 hours had been 'brutal') the main purpose for Jamie's call was to find out if they were winning the race - typical! I am more concerned that they arrive in Antigua in one piece than 'win' the 'race'. The world record for the youngest team to row an ocean seems a good enough prize to me!
Finally, last Saturday evening, Luke called us too. He said that he was finding the challenge harder than his Channel Swim (which he completed when he was just 18) but that the dawn on the second day had been stunning and he was joined by a group of dolphins playing around the boat. It was such a relief that he was happy enough to call us and to appreciate such an amazing experience! Since then the boys have uploaded two blogs about their row so far (you can read them here and here). It's really reassuring that they've written the blogs as I think they must be in reasonably good spirits to have had the energy to do so. And Luke's humour about using a bucket for a loo and the evident banter between the boys is a positive sign that they are ok, in spite of some terrifying experiences including a scare that they had lost their para-anchor - the critical bit of kit that stops them being blown the wrong way!
But as worrying as it is, I know this challenge is something the boys really believe in. When Luke first told me his plans a year ago, I simply didn't think he'd do it. Then when it became clear that he was serious and that he wanted to raise money for Breast Cancer Care, I decided to do what I could to ensure the venture was as successful as possible. It's been a massive undertaking, especially as I was diagnosed with breast cancer last year and wanted to do everything I could to avoid stress - tricky when you're planning and fundraising for a trip like this! But it's worth it. I hate parents who brag, but I am very proud - and they are both being so incredibly brave.
Now they have finally got some respite from this horrible wind and weather so they can get rowing again - and hopefully I can get a good nights' sleep! I've started using a meditation app but it definitely hasn't been enough to keep me calm!
You can follow Jamie and Luke on Twitter @2boysinaboat or on their website 2 Boys in a Boat where they will be blogging throughout the journey. You can also watch their progress on this race tracker. The 2 Boys in a Boat team would like to say a huge thank you to their supporters including Duracell, WeSEE.com, Reed.co.uk, Buzzacott and Sidley Austin.
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