Meet ocean rower Roy Dixon (Atlantic Mavericks), as he talks to us about the 2019 Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge, team dynamics, and their daily diet. This is the first in a two-part blog update from experienced ocean rowers.
Expedition Foods (EF): What is your occupation?
Roy Dixon (Atlantic Mavericks): Dentist
EF: What is your sporting background?
Roy: Rugby for the Army and fly fishing!
EF: When did you get involved in ocean rowing?
Roy: In May 2017 - a gang of us took a Lodge in Ullapool and I agreed to join the team after the visit to the Glenmorangie Distillery.
EF: How did you get involved with the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge (TWAC)?
Roy: As above - we felt we had to participate in TWAC to reassure partners that it was serious with a focus on preparation and safety.
EF: What training did you do for your TWAC2019 row?
- Learnt to row.
- Joined Shropshire Adventure Rowing Club and completed the Celtic Challenge in May 2019 - row across the Irish Sea in Celtic longboats.
- Coastal rowing in proper sculling boats.
- Completed the requisite 120 hours in our boat, mainly in Cardigan Bay.
EF: What gear did you bring on the TWAC?
Roy: Took guidance from the Ocean Rowing Course(s). By the time we had all of the ‘essentials’, there wasn’t a lot of room for anything else.
EF: How much food did you take on the TWAC?
Roy: We had to meet the requirements for TWAC2019 and produce a calorie plan - in my case this was 5,400 calories, in a combination of set meals and snacks. Meals were a combination of Army “compo”, Expedition Foods freeze-dried meals and individual snack packs.
EF: Can you describe your daily diet?
- Breakfast - Army muesli or homemade porridge packs with added dried fruit
- Lunch - Army Compo, these were usually wet rations and usually consisted of a main and dessert, boil in the bag; occasionally 1,000 calorie freeze-dried meal
- Dinner - 1,000 calorie freeze-dried meals
- Snacks - tried to eat something in every break; my snacks were a combination of nuts, biscuits, flapjack and protein bars
I struggled to hit my 5,400-calorie target and I felt we had too much food onboard as none of us managed to eat enough to reach our targets.
EF: What were the high points of the row? What were the low points of the row?
- The whole row.
- Day three - when we overcame the problems from day one (below).
- Arrival in Antigua.
- Not many, my partner had been advised to produce a letter for when I felt really down, but I never read it.
- Day one was a challenge as we ended up drifting helplessly in a crippled boat (all seasick, one auto helm not working, snapped daggerboard, line wrapped around rudder).
EF: How were the dynamics within your team on the TWAC?
We had 3 aims:
- get across safely
- enjoy the experience
- remain friends at the end
We did achieve these aims, there were some challenging moments, but as skipper, I made decisions in accordance with the wishes of the crew.
EF: Did you ever think you would not make it?
Roy: No - even after day one, we could still achieve our aims
EF: What would you do differently next time?
- Different team - more emphasis on rowing ability
- Look at rations
- Spread navigation tasks
- Change clothing
EF: What was the most worthless piece of gear on the expedition? What was the most valuable piece of gear on the expedition?Roy:
- Worthless - fishing rod; binoculars.
- Best - seat made from 5 layers of yoga mat; cost £3.99, but priceless - aside from electronics and comms stuff.
EF: What was the scariest moment of the row?
Roy: None really - we tipped up sideways a couple of times.
EF: What did it feel like when you reached Antigua?
EF: It wasn't long ago, but has your life already changed since TWAC2019?
Roy: Think world events have rather overtaken this question, didn’t really have time to get back to normal.
EF: What do you have planned next?
Roy: No plans for adventure but a normal world would be nice.
EF: What is the key to success in ocean rowing?
Roy: Realising that the sea is in charge, only worry about what you can change.