After a frustrating last 24 hours or so we began today with slow conditions and not much visibility. It was quite squally, with little rain showers coming and going, but things cleared quite abruptly around 8am and suddenly we could see land. After being hidden in the mist it appeared out of nowhere and it seemed really close! This last stretch was totally different to the first half of the race. For so much of this crossing the weather has been horrific, I have never experienced anything like this. Yesterday morning at 8 am marked the first time in the entire race that we had a full 24 hours out of full foul weather gear and today is also the first day that an equipment failure would not be a cause for emotional devastation. I always thought that we would make it, but equipment failures could have slowed us down a lot. The thought of breakages always kept us on edge. But now we can finally enjoy the realisation that WE HAVE DONE IT!!!!!!!!
Highs and lows
If you had told us beforehand that we had a good chance of finishing in the top 3 I would have been sceptical. But here we are. We are all soldiers and we all always set out to do our best, we just didn’t really know it would be this good!!! It is amazing achievement and we are all so proud – not bad for a couple of ‘hop-a-trots’, a ginger beard and physio.
We have had so much time to think on this expedition and there is lots of time to drift off into your own thoughts and it can be quite a lonely place at times. But sharing this experience has been one of the real highlights. Evenings when we cook dinner together are the only time when we are able to chat and get together as a whole crew. Getting to know Scott has also been great, he is a great ambassador for this cause and he really wants to support the wounded community and get them involved. It’s great to be associated with someone like him.
We were so pleased to hear that Atlantic Polo have done so well to come in in second this morning. We couldn’t have asked for a more worthy adversary.
What does the achievement mean?
Last night at midnight we crossed 61deg west, an official crossing. We had a knowing nod rather than a celebration – we have officially become ocean rowers!!! The attraction of this whole event was its exclusivity. It’s so unnecessary - why would people do it? It is also so unknown and often misunderstood. People ask if you stop along the way or if you refuel on an island somewhere. It takes a while to register that you just go from A to B – 3,000 miles with no water stops.
I don’t feel like this would be a one off. This is not the end of the adventure but the start of a whole new chapter. My dad put up a photo on Facebook a couple of days ago, and it showed me on the day I had come out of intensive care. That day represents the lowest point in my life. It was enormously depressing. All that I ever wanted to do was live an adventurous life and that was the moment when it looked like the adventure was over. It is so hard for me to express what this achievement means.
This row has absolutely been part of my rehab. When it comes to prosthetics I have some catching up to do, but the grit and determination I have taken from this gives you the strength to take on the recovery. I am hopeful that I will get back on my legs when I get off the boat and I have eaten 2 x the rations that others have to try and keep the weight on. Although this will set me back in the short term I will be straight back in the gym to catch up. But most importantly, the psychological rehabilitation this has given me is huge.
To all our families and friends, we cannot wait to see you. Get the champagne chilled and let’s enjoy this special moment. I hope this is as inspiring to others as it is to us.