Dorset-based former Royal Marine David Whiddon and expedition leader Lloyd Figgins left Morocco on 19 December and arrived in Barbados on 18 February, after a gruelling 60 days 17 hours in their boat – named Atlantic Calling – and 3200 nautical miles travelled.
The pair were assisted by psychologists and physiologists from Bournemouth University’s Centre for Events and Sports Research.
Emma Kavanagh, Lecturer in sports psychology and coaching sciences, said: “They wanted to keep a lot of the people they worked with local, so they came to the university to see what kind of package we could offer them.”
The team of sports scientist put together a “bespoke package” that included rigorous physical assessments, “psychology support to help with mental preparation” and “a systematic program to make them fitter before they attempted the row”.[minigallery link=”file”] Pictures kindly provided by David and Lloyd.
David and Lloyd wrote a blog throughout their preparation and the journey itself. After their first session with Emma and the team, Lloyd wrote: “The whole process was intensive but strangely enjoyable as well as being absolutely fascinating and something that both Dave and I have wholeheartedly embraced. It helps that the team at Bournemouth University are such a great bunch and so easy to get on with.”
David is a trainer for the RNLI. He has taught sea survival skills to a number of well-known personalities, including James Cracknell and Ben Fogle in their successful bid to row the Atlantic. Emma explained that David and Lloyd were encouraged to get back in touch with Cracknell and Fogle.
“There’s not a lot of research on activity in this kind of environment, so part of the preparation was speaking to people who had been in extreme environments to find out as much as they could about what the conditions would be like, what would be the main challenges, what would be the highs and the lows.”
The journey will raise money and awareness of the RNLI’s ‘Train One, Save Many’ campaign. The target is £24,000, which is the annual cost to train all of the volunteers at one lifeboat station.
Chief Executive of the RNLI, Paul Boissier, said: “The RNLI are extremely proud of this courageous duo and their tremendous initiative. They have my upmost respect and admiration to confront the might of the Atlantic Ocean. I am delighted to hear that they have arrived safely.”
Listen to sports psychologist, Emma Kavanagh, talk about how the rowers kept themselves mentally occupied whilst completing this immense physical challenge.[audio:http://www.thebreaker.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/atlantic-calling.mp3|titles=atlantic calling, Emma Kavanagh on boat activities]