Local resident Lauren Hunt is heading towards an adventure of a lifetime. As we all gear up for Christmas she’ll be starting off on The Talisker Whisky Atlantic Rowing Challenge and raising money for crucial charities along the way.
Words | Lucy Donoughue
Do you know what you’ll be doing on Christmas Day yet? Lauren Hunt does. She’ll be rowing across the Atlantic Ocean with her three teammates Jessica, Joe and Jess. Her Christmas lunch will probably be rehydrated and from a packet and she’ll most definitely be missing The Queen’s Speech, although her team’s endeavours will be raising up to £60,000 for three charities – Crisis, Covenant House and Anthony Nolan.
Lauren sits opposite me outlining this mammoth challenge on a late summer’s day and she’s seemingly calm, unphased and totally motivated to take on the task ahead. As she sips her coffee, she shares that the 3,000 mile row will take around 50 days, the team will do everything on board their vessel including eating, sleeping and toileting and they’ll row on a rota of two hours on and two hours off until they reach their destination of Nelson’s Dockyard, Antigua.
It’s an incredible prospect. The Talisker Whisky Atlantic Rowing Challenge is known to be the premier ocean event in rowing, incredibly tough and only a relatively small number of people have taken part in it to date. In fact, more people have climbed Mount Everest than rowed an ocean, so what inspired Lauren to sign up? Here, she shares all...
Tell us how you made the decision to sign up for this challenge?
I signed up for the challenge a week before the lockdown happened in March 2020. A friend of a friend was talking about it and that was the catalyst for me, even though I only started rowing last year!
Tell us about your team?
There are four of us and our team name is In Deep Ship! Joe taught Jessica to row some years ago, and it was Jessica who began to talk to me about the challenge. We decided to take the plunge but we were a team of three and we wanted to be a four, so we put our feelers out on instagram. As a result we met Jess who also hadn’t rowed before but was up for the adventure and signed up. So here we are, a mixed ability team with a shared passion.
“The training we’ve had together is really helpful in preparing for what it might be like physically and mentally.”
How have you managed to train with all the restrictions and lockdowns?
It’s been logistically interesting, not only because of Covid but also because we’re all living in different countries, although we are all British. Joe was originally in Dublin, Jessica in Vancouver, Jess in Germany, and I live here in Molesey. In May, Jess and Jessica flew back and quarantined so we could train for two weeks, and then had another fortnight in July and September. We’ll be spending the whole of October
and November together training. We’ve managed to make it work somehow!
How are you feeling about the challenge right now?
It’s starting to feel very real and exciting! We’ve been speaking to past participants and they’ve told us that making it to the start line is as much of a challenge as the row itself! We all have day jobs and around those we’re fitting in training, finding sponsorship for the event and raising money for our charities too, so there’s a lot still to do. In order to get this far though, we’ve had to plan meticulously.
We have weekly Zoom meetings, working around different time zones, and we discuss everything from personal physical progress to where we are in terms of covering our own costs to participate in the challenge.
Have you envisioned what it will be like to be on your boat for up to 50 days when the challenge begins?
It’ll be snug! Our ocean boat is basically like a glorified canoe! It’s 8.5 metres long and about a metre and a half wide, and there are two ‘cabins’ either side where we’ll sleep. We’ll also be rowing for two hours on and two off for the duration, so sleep patterns will be very different to usual. The training we’ve had together has been really helpful in preparing for what it might be like physically and mentally too. On a recent overnight row I got really seasick, so for me it’s about managing that, as well as mindset, using the navigation systems on board, knowing all the knots, food preparation at sea and everything else!
Good Luck Lauren! We’ll be rooting for you. Finally, how can people in and around the Court help you?
It would be great if readers could follow our progress on Instagram @indeepship2021, share our posts and if you can sponsor us so we can raise much needed funds for our selected charities, that would be amazing too.
3,000 miles in 50 days
Follow Lauren’s progress and find out more about team In Deep Ship at indeepship.com and Instagram @indeepship2021
Team In Deep Ship are looking to raise £60,000 for Crisis, Covenant House and Anthony Nolan. They are also looking for additional corporate sponsors. Please support if you can.