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  • TeamIthaca

Team Ithaca - Assemble!

03 September 2022

The start of an incredible adventure, on September 3rd, Team Ithaca gathered in our base-town, Portsmouth, for the first time.

Swim Test

At 0800, the local leisure centre hosted the team to undertake our mandatory swim test, a requirement to join the newly established Ultimate Endurance Rowing Club.

A casual 300m swim followed by 3 minutes treading water and unassisted exit from the pool.

The team were finished in a leisurely 17 minutes, although, we most defiantly would have been faster if our very own Clair had remembered to bring her floral swim cap she had been elated to show us for the two weeks prior.

And just like that, we'd completed the first requirement for our incredible challenge. How many more do we have left to go now? ;)

Lessons from the seasoned professionals

After a quick brew, the team gathered at The UERC Boat House, an incredible facility for club members to use for training, meetings and boat familiarisation.

Our first session of the day involved an incredible presentation from Jeremy (Jez) Webb. Jez has rowed both the Atlantic Ocean and around Great Britain so understands what's important on an ocean rowing boat, the skills you require and just how tough this challenge is - this isn't The World's Toughest Rowing Race, for nothing!

Jez kindly brought along his kit, knowledge and pantomime style jokes, ensuring audience participation.

We learnt so much from Jez and his experience, including top tips about navigating the tricky waters of North Western Scotland (once again, in the dark)! We're really excited that Jez will be following our journey and on-hand for any questions and help we may need along the way. Thank you Jez, you're a legend!

A hard act to follow, but none other than our own Emma W stepped up to the metaphorical plate to talk through her own experiences of life-on-board as part of team Sea Legs in the GB Row Challenge 2022. At that point in the day, she didn't know if she was going to be invited to join Team Ithaca - unbeknown to her, the day was her informal interview. Of course, she passed and by lunch time, the whole team were in agreement that she would be an incredible asset and fit for our little team. After a celebratory brew and hug in the kitchen, we finally had our full crew, wahoo!

The clock strikes 1300 hrs and we moved into our next session - kit familiarisation with UERC's very own Jim and Paddy. We went through all our equipment in the classroom, from flares and life jackets to rations and JetBoils. Of course, as with anything at the UERC, we didn't do this in halves, we tried and tested everything! We inflated our lifejackets so that we know exactly how they're deployed; we boiled water in our JetBoils and, in Team Ithaca fashion, had a race between Emma H and Clair to see who could get into their survival suit quickest! Can you guess who was the winner?!

Next up, we moved into the Saturday sun to see our boat in all her glory - she's so incredible, she deserves her own blog post, so we'll tell you all about her in a few weeks.

One of the most important practicals is practicing using flares...all for the finish photos at Tower Bridge, after 2000 miles around Great Britain, right?! Well yes, BUT more importantly, incase we need to alert people of our position or signal for help. Flares are pyrotechnics that produce bright light and heat, without an explosion. If they sound dangerous to you, they absolutely can be. However, correct usage with gloves and knowing the wind direction means they're managed and used in the safest way possible - as demonstrated by our own Maggie.

We tried out the majority of our equipment on the hardstanding at The Boat Club, so that we have a basic idea of how to use it before our first session on the water (which is very soon, eek). Throwing grab lines, (WO)man overboard drills, using the anchor and so much more. We came away with sore heads but hearts full of excitement and warmth. Here we are, well on our way to rowing 2000 miles around the coast of Great Britain - the dream team, Team Ithaca.

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