Penultimate Training Row - Captured by the amazing Charlotte Graham

We closed off this week with two and a half days on the water, out of the thoroughly accommodating Hartlepool Marina, on the North East coast. The excellent access Hartlepool offers, directly into the North Sea, has given us the opportunity to get some genuine open water experience - losing sight of land, 'tacking' the wind, riding big rolling waves, and Kian’s first bout of sea-sickness! The rest of us will not soon forget the image of Kian laying face down on the deck, moaning like a wounded beast, begging to be anywhere but on the boat!! As funny as it may have been, it is not lost on us that we will each probably find ourselves in Kian’s position before we get to Antigua!

The renowned photographer, Charlotte Graham was good enough to come out and take a few snaps of our exploits at sea, see below for her phenomenal photography. (Followed by our less than perfect happy snaps!).

The next few weeks will see us attend the water-maker course on the south coast, Victory have a new livery fitted and the preparations for our last BIG row ahead of the challenge. Exciting times ahead!

Taking the Guesswork out of Teamwork!

We followed the physical sculpting of Broga, with some mental manipulation…

2019.09.19 Brochure.jpg

Members of our 150 Club, and industry leading team-profiling company, TMSDI of York, assessed our personalities and gave us a valuable insight into the psychological make up of our crew. Following an intensive questionnaire, reaching into the dark recesses of our minds, TMSDI revealed the working preferences and relative focus strengths of each of us. The purpose of this is to highlight the gaps in our team, and where we are likely to have operating ‘blind spots’, where neither of us will naturally make efforts unless we need to. As you can imagine, this was fascinating – we discovered that the four of us are all much-of-a-muchness, and 'blind spot' may not accurately capture the vast swathes of the working spectrum FORCE ATLANTIC barely recognises!

Broga Strength Training

Cracking Broga UK session at David Lloyds Clubs today! As a part of our research into TWAC, the overwhelming advice from previous competitors has been to “get into yoga, and the sooner the better!”. In the spirit of this we were introduced to Tess at David Lloyds Gym in Harrogate, one of our generous Silver Sponsors, for a challenging and robust ‘Broga’ (yes, a portmanteau of Yoga and Bro!) session. The four of us were twisted, stretched and pulled into all sorts of positions, and felt the burn in places the rest of our gym routine just can’t reach!

Physical MOT

Fascinating (but tough) day with our Platinum sponsors M2M2 going through a number of physical tests to determine our overall fitness levels. Facilitated by Cardiff Metropolitan University, we had blood samples tested at various rates of exertion to determine our lactose levels and hence efficiency. Read below for a detailed account of our trip to Guildford and Cardiff.

M2M - team with mentors.PNG
With the help of the sports science team from Cardiff Met, we’re making sure the guys are in the best condition to take on the Atlantic Challenge.’
— Andy Miles - M2M2 Joint MD

The Full Made to Measure Mentoring Experience

On the Sunday night, as we settled into our hotel rooms in Guildford, we each sat and thought about what to expect over the next 72 hours. We were in town at the invitation of our Platinum Sponsors, Made to Measure Mentoring Ltd, for their ‘one year on’ conference. We had been asked to present on the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge, and the impetus behind Force Atlantic - as we were coming so far, we had also been invited to the keynote speeches on the Monday and the champagne reception that followed.

The Monday morning was very interesting, and as 'M2M2' presented on their impending catastrophic success, we all thought "what a nice problem to have...catastrophic success in TWAC probably looks like some sort of benevolent tsunami!". A relaxing session in the gym and sauna was then followed by the reception and delicious dinner. The background of many of M2M2's consultants is in the RFU, and with 3/4 of Force Atlantic being egg chasers of the highest order, we all had a great time reminiscing of the glory days. However, the RFU heritage at M2M2 was out in full following the meal, and following some singing to put the Cabbage Patch to shame, we found ourselves in an un-planned Force Atlantic 'heart to heart', over seen by a bullring of professional mentors! If nothing else, Made to Measure Mentoring and Force Atlantic shared more with each other that night than many business partners ever will!

 The following day we completed our presentation, bleary eyed, to what sounded like rapturous applause (...or that may have been the drum line banging in our collective heads...), and made our way to Cardiff. Andy from M2M2 hosted us graciously at Cardiff Met University where he is a Senior Lecturer, and alongside his colleague Paul, were set to put us through out paces for some lab-based physiological testing. Our coach, SSgt Ben Leach, was also in attendance.

 We were instructed to row, increasing power output every 5 minutes, and having blood drawn from our ear lobes to test for lactate levels. This was to be done until we reached 110% of our capacity, or our blood lactate hit the prescribed number... or whichever came sooner! The noises made by some members of the crew, would have you believe the rowing machine was a device of pure torture..! The results we are yet to see, but Coach Ben has said that this "sub maximal" testing will help to guide our training going into the last 3 months.

We then headed back to Harrogate for some recovery, a berocca, and alka-seltzer - the holistic hospitality of M2M2 had frankly, knocked it out of us! Nevertheless we were back on the boat toiling on Friday and Saturday, creating a home away from home for the upcoming adventure.

Force Atlantic Gold Sponsor - RSS Infrastructure undertaking 'Pedal to Paris'

A team from FORCE ATLANTIC’s amazing Gold Sponsor, RSS Infrastructure, are currently undertaking their annual ‘Pedal to Paris’ cycle ride.  Raising money for the Royal British Legion Poppy Appeal, the intrepid Birmingham based team led by CEO Richard Toy will cover 460km in four days and help to promote the Force Atlantic Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge in the process.  Each team member is aiming to raise £900 and surpass £9k record they set last year. 

We wish them all the very best and love that the Force Atlantic logo is emblazoned on their shirts!

About Pedal to Paris

This four-day ride from London to Paris is cycling event for competitive and recreational riders who support The Royal British Legion.

Setting off from London, the event will take riders through English and French countryside covering a total of 460km. Once in France, there will be rolling road closures so they can cycle from Calais to Paris without any delays from traffic, junctions or red lights.

For more information about the event, click the link to The Royal British Legion’s official ‘Pedal To Paris’ page.

Auctus Management Group Ltd and its subsidiary businesses; RSS Infrastructure Ltd and INFRA Skills Ltd have yet again assembled a small team to take on the intense Pedal To Paris cycling charity event, a 460km challenge for the second year in a row. This year’s team consists of Richard Toy; CEO of Auctus Management Group Ltd and Sean Harrison; Managing Director, Brian Hopkinson; Rail Manager, Simon Capper; Fleet Manager and John McDonough; Fleet Co-ordinator for RSS Infrastructure Ltd.

The team are delighted to announce this year’s sponsors featured on their team jersey, many of whom are direct clients and suppliers for the companies that make up the team.

p2p_head_on_shot.jpg

A Sortie to Sealand

The last few months have seen one major advancement for the FORCE ATLANTIC crew - the full time custody of their boat ‘Daphne’.

The guys wasted no time in taking advantage of this new freedom to train, with a 72 hour expedition from the River Crouch to the Principality of Sealand, and back. (For those readers unfamiliar with Sealand, it the world’s smallest micro-nation. A previously abandoned WW2 gun emplacement a few miles off of the Essex coast, which was claimed and restored by a benevolent band of ambitious businessmen, and is now home to a population of between 12-15 people.)

This expedition was the first time the crew had been able to put all of their talk about boat life, to practise. A full 2hr on, 2hr off routine was implemented, eating only the mandated freeze dried rations and supplementary energy bars; and very quickly the reality of the trans-Atlantic row set in. The fatigue of rowing against the harsh coastal elements, coupled with the inability to get sufficient rest, quickly dampened down the butterflies of excitement the crew had ahead of the expedition, as they battled up towards the Harwich coast. Being consistently wet, meant that the crews hands started to deteriorate. Blisters on fingers wrinkled with the pruney-ness of being in the bath too long (oh, what they would have paid to have been in a bubble bath on day 3!).

The elemental challenge however was met by a stoic and professional approach by the FORCE ATLANTIC boys. It quickly became evident that the crew’s shared military experience, and their background of arduous training would serve them well - the discipline of a service background undoubtedly gives FORCE ATLANTIC an edge over their civilian competitions in the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge. Familiarity with routine in harsh environments, doing the right thing on the hard day, ‘as they ought, not as they want’, meant that the team took the brutal row with a grin, and some trademark dark humour! Crew member Captain Alex Walsh RL said, “There is no doubt about it, that row was tough. But to even have the opportunity to do [the 72hr trip], is a real privilege, and one most people would never come across...We’ve all realised, whether we like it or not, that adversity is a glue that will bring our crew together!”

Another piece of big news in the last few weeks has been the agreement of M2M2 (Made to Measure Mentoring Ltd.) to be the official Platinum Sponsor of FORCE ATLANTIC. As a part of their assistance with the challenge, M2M2 will be providing leadership mentoring, sports psychology sessions and physiological testing and tracking for the crew to keep the crew at their best.

Fewer than five months to go

Fewer than five months to go and Force Atlantic, The British Army’s first official ocean rowing crew, are well on their way to setting themselves up for success in the 2019 Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge (TWAC).

In April, the fearless four, took to the water for their first taste of rowing on the open sea. Manning their Rannoch R45 ocean rowing boat for the first time, the crew set about their first day’s sustained rowing in the estuary of the River Crouch and into the South of the North Sea. This initial training was conducted under the guidance of an experienced ocean rower who works with the boat builder Rannoch Adventure, however no amount of advice could account for the shock of the first impact with the wind of the open sea! Come late August, the crew will take on the boat full time, and make the most of every opportunity to train out of their local Hartlepool Marina.

As you will well know, the composition of the crew is an unusual one. Most TWAC crews will have known each other for years and have lived in the skin of their crew mates before the race; knowing this, the Force Atlantic team have been required to look inwards. In developing the essential component of cohesion within the team, Force Atlantic have made a concerted effort to break down the barriers of rank and age to speak to each other openly, and as peers. With an age range of +30 years, ranks spanning from Lieutenant Colonel, two Captains and a Private soldier, undertaking the project will reflect a leadership challenge for the Skipper, Lt. Col. Richard Hall MBE YORKS, equal to the prospect of crossing the ocean itself. On the subject, he said, “We have been brutally honest with each other, candid about our personal motivations, and open with our fears and concerns – speaking always as peers and crewmates. The result has been unity, and mutual respect.” Fundamental to this process have been our Campaign Partners, Made to Measure Mentoring (M2M2UK) and their bespoke coaching and mentorship with our campaign.

Contributing to the crew ethos, Force Atlantic have been getting out and about together as much as possible with several ‘Pop-Up’ rows across Yorkshire. Featuring beauty spots of the largest county in the UK, the crew have been springing up, meeting the public, spreading word of their campaign, and the opportunities available to everyone and anyone in the Army. RHS Harlow Carr, Almscliffe Cragg, Ripley Castle, Newby Hall and Castle Howard to name just a few of the locations the team have appeared at – keep an eye on their social media to see if they may ‘pop-up’ near you! The crew and boat were also lucky enough to have been featured at the Great Yorkshire Show, Armed Forces Day in Leeds and at Henley Regatta, where the prospect of the challenge ahead of them was delightfully and with trepidation by people from all walks of life!

Fundraising efforts have been flourishing lately, with the crew enjoying the most superb support from both those in the Army and many generous private businesses outside. Earlier in the year, Force Atlantic held a fundraising dinner at their home camp at the Army Foundation College, Harrogate. Attending were some special guests and sponsors including broadcaster, author and former RAF Prisoner of War John Nichol, Army Sergeant Major Gavin Patton, author and Ex-SAS soldier Phil Campion, actor Anthony Cotton, local MP Andrew Jones, five-time ocean rowing world record holder Ian Couch, Invictus Games captain and author Davis Wiseman and ABF Soldiers’ Charity Ambassador and wounded serviceman Andy Reid MBE to name a few. The event raised a whooping £12,000 for Army Benevolent Fund, The Soldiers’ Charity. The team offer a huge thank you to all those who helped to contribute to a successful evening and continue to support the campaign.

To come, now fully qualified, the crew are planning a series of gradually more demanding training rows in the North Sea – ‘if you can row there, you can row anywhere!’ Be sure to look out on social media and on our new website, www.forceatlantic.com, for our upcoming rows about the North East!

Force Atlantic would like to thank everyone for their support in their campaign to row the Atlantic Ocean in 2019.

Boat livery completed

Another step closer to Antigua. Boat livery completed by @DSignsHarrogate and latest training gear from @Motif8ltd.

Force Atlantic is another step closer to realising the goal of rowing the Atlantic Ocean in Dec 19. Incredible support from our sponsors to help us get this far... and plenty of logo space left on the boat!
See us @HenleyRegatta next week and @greatyorkshow the week after.