Get insider info about the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge (TWAC) from Sara, experienced ocean rower from the TWAC2019 team, Row Off the Wall. The second in a two-part blog update from TWAC ocean rowers.
Expedition Foods (EF): What is your occupation?
Sara Brewer (Row Off the Wall): Banking, clerical
EF: What is your sporting background?
Sara: Running, and for the past seven years, rowing.
EF: When did you get involved in ocean rowing?
Sara: Read “The Crossing” by Ben Fogle and James Cracknell three years ago and I knew instantly that I wanted to row the Atlantic.
EF: How did you get involved with the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge (TWAC)?
Sara: As above.
EF: What training did you do for your TWAC2019 row?
Sara: Weights mostly with a personal trainer plus balance and of course rowing in our boat.
EF: What gear did you bring on the TWAC?
Sara: Not sure whether you mean clothing or equipment. Apart from the compulsory equipment, we took a BGan, which worked intermittently and was a bit of a nuisance. Clothing: mostly shorts, t-shirts, leggings, waterproofs, and swimwear.
EF: How much food did you take on the TWAC?
Sara: What we bought from Expedition Foods plus snack bags containing dried fruit, energy bars, energy tablets to put into water, peanut butter, liquorice and condiments.
EF: Can you describe your daily diet?
Sara: Vegetarian and fish - I do not eat meat. I absolutely loved the Expedition Foods Macaroni Cheese, and the Mediterranean Pasta was a delicious reminder of fresh spring vegetables back home.
EF: What were the high points of the row? What were the low points of the row?
- High: The ocean itself, sunrises and sunsets and the wildlife, and the bond of friendship between us.
- Low: Steering lines broke twice, early difficulty in steering the boat when the trim was not balanced, length of time it took to reach Antigua due to the aforementioned.
EF: How were the dynamics within your team on the TWAC?
Sara: Everything from supportive, to fun, to flashpoints, but always deeply honest.
EF: Did you ever think you would not make it?
Sara: Yes, but it did not ever stop me trying.
EF: What would you do differently next time?
Sara: Spend more time in the boat before embarking on the crossing with the same weight that we would carry when starting the row. When we trained the boat was light and handled completely differently to when she was fully loaded.
EF: What was the most worthless piece of gear on the expedition? What was the most valuable piece of gear on the expedition?
- Worthless: A zip-up sailing jacket, we needed a smock jacket for rowing.
- Valuable: A smock top designed for kayaking which was completely waterproof and a pair of Musto salopettes.
EF: What was the scariest moment of the row?
Sara: When I thought Ann had gone overboard one night.
EF: What did it feel like when you reached Antigua?
Sara: Unreal, I had not dared to hope that we would reach Antigua. The welcome was the most incredible experience and we were so privileged to have received so much support. Truly humbling and exciting.
EF: It wasn't long ago, but has your life already changed since TWAC2019?
Sara: Well yes, but not in the way we would have expected with the Covid-19 outbreak. I have had many lovely messages and still now am receiving messages from people I know, people I haven't seen for years, and people I have never met. I had no idea it would reach such a large audience.
EF: What do you have planned next?
Sara: Started making plans to do the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race in 2022/23 - but not yet signed up, just doing some research at the moment.
EF: What is the key to success in ocean rowing?
Sara: Keep on going. Keep an eye on the course but not so much on your destination, instead relish each day for its unique quality.