ST JOHN’S, Antigua, Saturday September 30, 2017 – For some people, spending hours cooped up on a plane while you seem to slowly meander across the Caribbean Sea, or for those travelling further distances, across the Atlantic Ocean, is difficult enough. Imagine then, taking up to two months to do an Atlantic crossing without the luxury of having two 110,000 HP jet engines pushing you along.
With Atlantic rowing, that’s exactly what you do. The only things pushing you along across that 3,000-mile journey are the winds, the waves, your muscles, and sheer willpower. So, if you feel cooped up on an aircraft, then you may not feel that comfortable on a 24-foot-long ocean rowing boat.
And yet, in Antigua and Barbuda there is a team of four men preparing to do just that, this December. Team Antigua Atlantic Rowers’ Eli Fuller, John Watt, Nico Pshoyos, and Scott Potter are the Caribbean’s only team competing in the 2017 transatlantic rowing race.
They will be following in the footsteps of four others from Antigua: Dr. Nick Fuller, Peter Smith, Archie Bailey and John D. Hall, who did the very same thing in December 2015. Team Wadadli (the name Wadadli is derived from the Arawak name for Antigua Wa’ladli), as they were suitably called, rowed their way it into the Guinness World Record Book as the then, ‘Oldest Team To Row Across The Atlantic’, when they landed in Antigua’s historic Nelson’s Dockyard in February 2016. The island had been buzzing in anticipation of their arrival and thousands of people with flags waving high gathered at the Dockyard to welcome these brave adventurers home.
If you’ve never heard of it, ocean rowing is a growing sport that has been around for decades. It has recently become more popular thanks to the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge which is the most prestigious of all ocean rowing events, and is even considered, ‘The World’s Toughest Rowing Race’.
Each year groups of one, two, three or four person teams depart from La Gomera in the Canary Islands on a 3000-mile rowing race across the Atlantic Ocean all the way unassisted to Antigua. That’s right. Unassisted!! There are no support boats waiting to take you off when you need a good night’s sleep or when you need a warm shower, and absolutely no flight attendant, checking-in with you to make sure your journey is going smoothly.
Eli Fuller, who captain’s Antigua and Barbuda’s 2017 team says, “You are on that boat rowing the two hours on and two hours off shift around the clock, day and night until you step off on to the sea wall in Antigua.”
And most rowers can’t wait to reach Antigua. The finish line, which the team is expected to reach in early 2018, remains the picturesque Nelson’s Dockyard, in English Harbour, now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge held in Antigua since, 2004 albeit under a separate name until 2011, when the Atlantic Rowing Race became the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge, is now a permanent fixture on Antigua and Barbuda’s Calendar of Events, and the race which used to take place roughly every two years, is now held annually.
While to the disappointment of most in Antigua and Barbuda there was no Antigua and Barbuda team in the December 2016 race, residents are now excitedly awaiting this year’s challenge with an Antigua and Barbuda team amongst the competitors.
Fuller says: “The West Indies has always produced amazing athletes, but we are not necessarily known as explorers and adventurers. That changed with the arrival of Team Wadadli, and since then there have been calls for another West Indian or Antigua and Barbuda team to represent the country against the international teams from North American Europe and the UK. Team Antigua Atlantic Rowers ultimately answered the call and started training in June of 2016 for the December 2017 TWAC.”
Some may ask, what’s the grand prize for all this hard-work? Well, the rowers do it all for charity, as is one of the requirements set by the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge organisers.
“Team Antigua is rowing to bring awareness to marine conservation and to echo Team Wadadli’s message that we small island people can take part in events that for some time we only read about and witnessed from the safety of our shores,” says Fuller.
To date, the team has rowed in a tropical storm, rowed to Redonda, (one of Antigua’s off-shore Islands) where they then hiked to the top, and then rowed from Antigua to Sint Maarten. While most of their training has been in the gym so far, Team Antigua plans to row another 600 training miles at sea before the start in December.
To follow the team you can go to their website www.teamantiguabarbuda.com or their Facebook or Instagram pages @teamantigua2017 and @teamantigua where they have regular updates. Donations can also be made to Team Antigua Barbuda’s charity on their website.
When they set off from the Canary Islands in December, all the teams can be followed on the live tracker through www.atlanticcampaigns.com. (Antigua and Barbuda Tourism Authority)
To learn more about the Antigua and Barbuda Tourism Authority, visit:
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