The Light Fund Row Blog: T minus 42 days

Our intrepid rowers take on the full force of Storm Gareth in their latest training session.

Saturday March 16 – T minus 42 days

Rowers are an unusual breed – spending hours on the water, cold and tired with blistered hands, dressed in tight lycra, being stroked by a man… it’s not always the fun day out that it sounds.

If it’s ever crossed your mind that, in a bored half hour, perhaps when every child in Portsmouth is fully bestowed with character-branded merchandise, you might take out a small coastal rowing boat in a Force 9 full gale, the crew of The Light Fund London 2 Paris Row can strongly recommend a re-think.

Once again, nature provided a huge challenge to the row preparations and the crew were forced to move inland to Bewl Water. Nonetheless, even in the relative safety of the reservoir, the swell rose to more than a metre and the crew were forced to battle against winds in excess of 50 knots.

Photo © David Mayhew. Davidmayhew.photoshelter.com
Photo © David Mayhew. Davidmayhew.photoshelter.com

As the rain lashed faces and the wind blew the boat to a standstill, despite the full pressure rowing of the crew, the intrepid rowers grinned back at nature, an outfit of hardened Vikings sure of plunder at the end.

Of course, the plunder in question is destined to fill the coffers of The Light Fund and will contribute to the charity’s ongoing mission to support worthy causes everywhere and the generosity of major sponsors – which now include Brand Licensing Europe 2019, Jazwares, Zag Toys, Dreamtex, H&A, Character World, Banter, Whitehouse Leisure/Posh Paws, Flair and Poetic Brands – helped lift the bows and cut through the howling winds.

While Michael, skipper of the escort vessel, gave the interchange crew sage lessons on cooking bacon below decks, the dangers of seasickness and the unpleasant side-effects of electrolyte poisoning, confidence levels waivered somewhat.

But, as if the crew had prescience of a Scotland RFU half time team talk, from a significant points deficit versus Storm Gareth, slowly but surely the rowers fought back on top. With the cox screaming into the wind, the boat passed first one marker buoy, then another before narrowly avoiding being blown under a nearby jetty. It was two feet forward, three feet back then, slowly but surely, Annie’s bows started to cut through the water and the boat began to make steady headway.

Photo © David Mayhew. Davidmayhew.photoshelter.com
Photo © David Mayhew. Davidmayhew.photoshelter.com

The crew fought on, the wind fought back and by the end of the day, both sides were happy to call it a well-earned draw. When conditions become so bad that it’s no longer safe to put out the safety boats, discretion can be the only victor and a tired, wet, cold, but happy crew helped to haul Annie to the security of the boat trailer.

With just over a month to go until the adventure begins, it’s back to the gym for a lot more ergo work!

The London 2 Paris Light Fund Row is scheduled to leave Tower Bridge on April 27 and aims to arrive in Paris on May 4. The crew will row 2 hours on, 2 hours off throughout. A range of sponsorship packages are available for companies to support the event and a brochure is available by emailing robc@bulldog-licensing.com. Individuals or companies wanting to back the event without taking one of the packages can do so here: https://www.justgiving.com/campaign/LondonToParisRow

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