There are a number of sensible ways to cross the Atlantic and a multitude of methods to raise money for the toy industry’s charity, but perhaps the hardest combination of these is to row the Atlantic single handed in aid of The Toy Trust.
As many of us know, this is what Andrew Brown of Flair is proposing to undertake. It is a hugely demanding project both physically and mentally, but the reward is the money that will be raised to help disadvantaged children via The Toy Trust and Capital FM’s Help a Capital Child.
The crossing is a race, which begins on December 4th 2011 from the Canary islands to Barbados. It is run every two years by a company called Woodvale and James Cracknell and Ben Fogle took part in the same race two years ago.
Unlike Cracknell and Fogle, Brown has decided to embark on this adventure in a one-man rowing boat. Getting to the start line is half the challenge as the boat needs to meet all safety standards and the crew need to be sufficiently well prepared.
Brown’s sailing experience should stand him in good stead for the challenge, though, and includes representing Britain in yachting, and sailing across the Atlantic from Bermuda to the UK.
The boat, which is specifically designed for Atlantic rowing, is fresh water ballasted but the water can only be touched in an emergency and the crew is subject to a time penalty if they break into it.
The key piece of equipment is the water maker, which performs its task of desalinating sea water. A complicated piece of equipment, the water maker is power hungry: Power to the water maker and other gadgets comes from solar panels. The AIS transponder is an automatic identification system, which is now carried by all commercial shipping, and gives details of speed, heading and destination, helping identify targets and reduce collision risks.
Battery management is crucial to make sure there is sufficient power to keep the boat functioning. Each boat is fitted with a satellite tracker so that the boat’s position and movement can be tracked.
Rowing the Atlantic covers 3,000 miles on a more or less continuous basis in shifts of two hours sleeping and two hours rowing. Brown will burn about 6,000 calories a day and because his daily calorie intake will be slightly less than that, he has had to bulk up, increasing his body weight from 80 to 110kg. Brown is also training in the gym daily. He’s even walked to and from work, covering 34 miles in a day.
Food on board is dried rations to which hot water, produced on a Gimble gas burner, is added and Brown will take 470 meal packets weighing nearly ¼ ton. There will also be high calorie snacks, but no fresh food.
The boat is self-righting and the sleeping compartment is in the front cabin in a coffin-like recess, which is padded and fitted with a full harness. All the time Brown is rowing he will need to be attached to the boat as going overboard is a real hazard. If the boat is drifting at about two knots, then in less than one minute, it will have covered over 200-feet.
Brown will have his iPod and will blog daily to sponsors. Voice communication is via satellite phone for daily weather updates.
In December the trade winds should be favourable. In adverse weather conditions, a parachute anchor will help limit the backward drift of the boat. It is estimated it will take 60 – 70 days to make the crossing, so Woodvale stipulates boats must be equipped with food for 90 days.
Brown is hoping to raise £100,000 for The Toy Trust and is hugely grateful to all those who have sponsored him. So far he has raised close to £50,000.
If you would like to support Brown in raising money for The Toy Trust, he would be delighted if you would sponsor him.
Please visit the website at www.rowtheatlantic.com for more information and to donate. Alternatively you can donate directly to the BTHA’s Toy Trust.
The Toy Trust celebrates its 20th year in 2012 and over that time has raised nearly £3 million. For the 20th year, the goal of raising £300,000 has been established.