By Humphrey Carter
THE “naked rowers” Chris Hall and Richard Pullan will this morning start their row across the Atlantic from the Canaries to Barbados.
Richard and Chris spent this summer training for the event at their main training camp in Es Trenc, Majorca and some of Richard's Majorcan family are in Tenerife to give the team a big send off this morning when the race officially starts at 11am. The lads have spent the past three weeks undergoing intensive final training and Richard said yesterday that they just want to get started. “Tension has been mounting here, the two Kiwi teams, one of which are the defending champions, came to blows last night, so it will not be a bad thing that we are getting out on the water today.” A total of 16 teams are competing for the barrel of rum including a father and son team from South Africa and a couple from England with the boyfriend suffering from epilepsy and hoping to use the race to increase public awareness of the illness. There is also a solo-British rower who suffers from spina bifida hoping to raise as much money for the cause as possible.
Chris and Richard have been living in a flat sandwiched between the defending champions and the team from Barbados “they're the rowing home team and have been drinking plenty of rum, we've managed to avoid the temptation however.” Richard said that he and Chris are as mentally and physically prepared as can be and that their doctor, who has been at their training camp for the past two weeks, has been pumping them full of carrot juice which “protects us from the sun and will help us see in the dark” joked Richard. The immediate weather forecast is good, the low pressure front which has been sitting over the Balearics for the past few days bringing storms and torrential rain, just missed the Canary Islands. “We've got a high pressure front with just a light north westerly breeze. The sea's going to be pretty flat for the first few days so that will help us all get into our stride,” said Richard. Their target is to reach the finish in Barbados within 50 days, however, they are serious contenders for this year's title, but to do so they will have to cross the Atlantic in under 41 days and break the record set by the Kiwis last year. All of the competing boats and crew have been weighed to ensure that they are all starting on equal terms. Yesterday Richard and Chris were packing up their final bits and pieces and giving the boat a final once over, checking all the electronic and safety equipment. “I guess we're both a bit nervous, it's the hanging around more than anything, it gives us time to think and sometimes that is not very healthy, but we're in the best shape possible and we've got some of the family down here to send us off, said Richard. From today their progress will be charted in the Bulletin but messages of support can be sent to the lads via their website www.rowatlantic.com.
Any of you thinking about taking part next year, the organisers are now taking entries and if you are short of a boat, the lads will be selling theirs so there are no excuses.

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