One of the toughest endurance races in the world is set to get underway on Monday, when the 2015 Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge begins in San Sebastian on La Gomera in the Canary Islands, and ends when competitors reach English Harbour in Antigua. In between, they must cross more than 3000 miles (4828 km) of open ocean, completely unassisted and under their own power.
This year there are 26 teams from around the world taking part in the race. They are competing in two separate divisions, with some solo racers, as well as two- and four-person squads. The faster boats (read the 4 person teams) will be able to finish in under 40 days, while the solo racers could take upwards of three months to complete their ocean crossing. Doubles teams typically finish in 60-70 days, although weather conditions can of course play a huge role in how fast these teams can go.
As you would expect, these rowboats are marvels of modern technology and engineering. They have each been designed to be as efficient as possible out on the water, and come equipped with solar panels to help power navigational and communications systems. They also have desalinization equipment that can create drinking water from the ocean. Small cabins allow the crew to get some respite from the elements, particularly while sleeping, and they’ll carry 2+ months of food and supplies with them as well.
The two- and four-person crews will man the oars 24 hours a day, seven days a week until the cross the Atlantic. They’ll work in shifts, with one or two people rowing for two hours before taking a break. Of course, the solo rowers will need to stop to sleep, but They’ll often row for 12+ hours per day themselves.
The boats will depart from La Gomera at about 6:30 PM local time on Monday, with everyone getting underway at the same time. From there, we’ll be able to track their progress using GPS, but don’t expect the first teams to arrive in Antigua until late January at the earliest.
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