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UniS VOYAGER UPDATES


04/12/2001

UniS Voyager has arrived in Barbados today, finishing in 12th position out 
of the 36 boats that started the race back on 7th October. The journey from 
Playa San Juan in Tenerife to Port St Charles in Barbados took them 58 days, 
9 hours and 50 minutes. Simon and Istvan are both doing well - tired but 
elated to be here ! 


The guard boat, which had lost its mast only days earlier, went out to meet 
them a few miles off the north east coast of the island. Istvan and Simon 
had just celebreated crossing the line 57 degrees 37 minutes West which 
signified that they had officially crossed the Atlantoc ocean, irrespective 
of what happened in the Ward Evans Atlantic Rowing Race. They were 
particularly happy at that point and recorded it on video. They were both 
glad to see the guard boat as the winds were a strong force 4 from the east, 
and the waves were large. The east coast of Barbados is particularly rough 
and trecherous with jagged cliffs getting the full brunt of the Atlantic 
ocean. 

The boat was spotted by supporters up at the northern most point of the 
island and from there they then made faster than expected progress round to 
the race finish. 3 boats went out to meet them as they neared the ugly 
concrete factory which marked the final mile to go. They steered a course 
close to the land to avoid as much as they could the strong offshore wind, 
which veered round occasionally onto their bow. Rowing together for the 
last 3 hours, they still kept good time and the boat looked good as they 
cruised over the finish line at just after 4pm Barbados time to big cheers 
from all the crowd. Many thanks to all those who came down, especially the 
crews who had already arrived ahead of them. 

On coming ashore, their first steps were a little wobbly but unsupported and 
they looked in a lot better shape than some of the other crews. Their first 
request was for a cold beer and sprite and they were cracking jokes before 
being ushered into customs. Finally they made it out to greet all their 
family and friends and their happiness at arriving held tiredness at bay 
long enough for them to celebrate. Simon and Istvan are now off for a well 
deserved shower, meal and a long sleep, having not really slept for the last 
2 days. 

Thank you to all who have sent them messages so far. I think the next 
update will be from the rowers themselves 

Best wishes 

Jo

04/12/2001

As at 10.15GMT today, UniS Voyager had less than 20 miles left to row to reach Port St Charles in Barbados, and are expected to finish the race this afternoon, around 4pm Barbados time (4 hours behind GMT) 

The last few days have seen them covering good mileage with strong force 4 easterlies bowling them on their way. But the choppy seas mean that it has been like rowing on a rollercoaster, especially at night when they can't see the waves before they hit them. Most of their effort has been on maintaining their course towards Barbados. They have been sleeping less at night now, and have sometimes rowed through the night if needed because of wind pushing them off course. When they have managed to snatch a few hours sleep, this has been uncomfortable as they have been pitched around in the small cabin. 

Despite feeling exhausted now, they are doing well and looking forward to being on land, stopping rowing and can't wait to seeing friends and family. Last night they were spurred on by the orange glow they could see ahead of them in the night sky, the lights of Barbados - the first light pollution for 58 nights. It was a great feeling at the end of the phone call last night to be able to say at last, "see you tomorrow!". 

Yesterday one of the guard boats had a major accident when its mast came off some 200 miles from Barbados. Fortunately noone was hurt but it was a great shock to the crew. These boats have previously competed in round the world races and so should be weel able to deal with rough seas. They had to cut the mast and sails free from the boat so the hull wasn't punctured, and then head back to Barbados to check out the boat. So the rest of the fleet is now without a guard boat since the other guard boat docked in Port St Charles on Sunday after 57 days at sea. Once it has refueled and stocked up on food and water, and the crew has got some welcome sleep, it will be out with the other boats. There will be another boat going out to escort the arrivals in to Barbados today. 

When Simon and Istvan arrive, I will let you know and I am sure they will be in contact soon with the news stright from the horses mouth! 

Thank you for all you messages over the last 2 months. If you want to contact Simon or Istvan when they arrive, do send an e-mail to simon_and_istvan@hotmail.com or you can send a fax to Room 12, Sandridge Beach Hotel, Fax: ++ 246 422 1965 

Best wishes, 
Jo 

The adverse winds which have been effecting the whole of the fleet have not spared UniS Voyager. Whilst they now have less than 350 miles to go, they have been experiencing southerly winds turning into south westerlies. The changes to normal weather patterns have been caused by a tropical storm which formed near Bermuda and now has been upgraded to Hurricane Olga and is heading in a north westerly direction. Whilst the crews are not in the path of the hurricane, the winds extend outward up to some 555 miles. Swells of 12 feet or greater will reach the islands of the Northern Caribbean later today or tonight, and reach the Bahamas and Southern Caribbean the next day or two. 

In an attempt to avoid getting pushed too far north and drifting at night, Simon and Istvan have started to row round the clock, with one of them continuously at the oars. It is taking a while to adjust to the new pattern of 24 hours rowing between them instead of only 15 hours for most of the race up until now. Progress is slow and recently they have only managed an average speed of 1.1 - 1.2 nm per hour. In the last 2 days they have only covered some 50 miles, whereas in more favourable conditions they used to aim for an average of 50 miles per day. Their only consolation is that the conditions are similar for all boats in their vicinity. They feel a little frustrated that the trade winds have not been helping them since, like most in the race, they had expected the second half of the race to be quicker than the first with help from the winds. 

In addition to the weather, Simon has had a couple accidents on board to contend with. First he spilt boiling water on the top of his foot and then knocked his elbow quite hard. He was lucky that his reasonably toughened foot did not blister very much and he was still able to row, and it wasn't severe enough to have to consult the nurse onboard the guard yacht. But he is fit and well again now and between them, Simon and Istvan are keeping up their new routine. 

Despite the winds slowing progress, excitement is now mounting as they near Barbados. Each day they are buoyed up by the news of another boat arriving into Barbados. Many congratulations to Andy and Ian on Comship who achieved 5th place and made it in to Port St Charles only after a tough few hours battling against winds and currents before finally getting in to the marina. Simon and Istvan were pleased to hear Comship's arrival time while they were on their weekly live interview with Island FM this morning. Comship may even have broken the British record ! Simon and Istvan have placed their advance order for beers with Andy and Ian, and hope that they are still meet in Barbados to meet then when they get there. 

Thank you for your e-mails to Simon and Istvan, and keep them coming for 
> what we hope will be the final week to simon_and_istvan@hotmail.com. More information on www.atlantic2001.com or www.wearc.com.

Jo Manning 
28/11/01 

On Friday November 23rd UniS Voyager passed the 500 miles to go mark in the Wards Evans Atlantic Rowing Challenge. 

The distance to go keeps coming down now at a much more visible rate which lifts their morale. The winds have picked up very slightly which has helped lift their daily average. They are wondering how some of the other boats are covering so much mileage with the very light ENE winds. Manpower has been making rapid progress up the rankings for several days, and Yantu has made amazing progress in the second half of the race. 

Whilst they have been tracking the other boats' progress, Simon and Istvan also discussed how they had approached the race, now they were in the home stretch. Overall both the boys are happy with the way they have coped with the demands of the race and the tactics they have taken, and feel they will be able to look back and say that they enjoyed the experience, rather than simply going hell for leather and exhausting themselves. Simon says he found the first few weeks a bit depressing given the enormous distance that they had to cover and it was all quite daunting. However he kept this to himself and after the first few rough days, they quickly settled into a routine. And the routine works for them. They have found a balance between rowing hard but also feeling happy with life on the boat and not too exhausted at the end of each day. 

Whilst tired at the end of the day, they wake up in the morning reasonably refreshed with only their stiff, arthritic feeling fingers complaining about taking to the oars again. Physically they are both doing well. They have a few patches of sweat rash behind knees and under arms and in some parts where the nappy rash cream is helping ! Simon thinks he has even put on some weight during the race whereas Istvan thinks he has lost about a kilo. 

They have ditched a few more days food, but retained their favourite foods for treats. They have allowed themselves the luxury of some self heating food again to make a change from the normal menus. Sunday is a special day because Istvan cooks apple pancakes for them both, which requires frying - the only cooking they do apart from boiling water for the freeze dried meals. 

Now in the end stages of the course, they contemplated upping the pace of rowing and extending their shift hours. But similarly to marathon runners and other endurance sportsman, they decided that the routine was key and that since it was all going so well they should not make any drastic changes at this stage. 

They have been entertained recently by a swordfish following them along, chasing fish and putting on a bit of an aerial display for them. They were also followed by a whale and then spotted a school of dolphins some distance from the boat. They are still eagerly awaiting their first shark sighting, although preferably not while one of them is in the water engaged in boat cleaning duties scraping off the barnacles. 

With hopefully less than 2 weeks to go now, their thoughts are turning more and more towards reaching land, and what comes next. They are relying on family and friends to take out some clothes for them, because they don't have much in the way of luggage on board. A couple of t-shirts, shorts, passport and a visa card ! I am sure they will welcome a shower followed by a clean set of clothes, as currently they only shower properly once a week. Simon is also looking forward to a steak and chips, and an ice cold drink. 

Then there are all the arrangements about sorting out kit and the boat and getting it back to Guernsey, flights and thoughts of returning to work. Being surrounded by people and noise after just each other for company will be a shock and the office will feel a strange place to return to after 2 months in a 7 metre boat. 

Simon and Istvan also spoke to Debra Veal in Troika on Thursday, and they said that she seemed very contented and settled in to her routine. They are both amazed and impressed at her resilience and positive outlook, and have every confidence that she will complete the race. 

They were very sad to hear that Jonathan Gornall has finally given up his attempt to carry on without his partner. Jonathan has joined the safety yacht and had to watch his boat Star Challenger being torched at sea. Only the other rowers would be able imagine what that felt like for him after all the years of preparation and effort that taking part in this race requires. 

The other Channel islands boats are doing well, with Comship expected to arrive in the next few days, the first out of the three Channel island boats. Simon and Istvan have already placed their orders for cold beers on their arrival with Andy and Ian, who they hope will still be there to welcome them in. 

Thanks to those who have sent e-mails since the last update, and keep the messages coming to simon_and_istvan@hotmail.com You can monitor their progress on www.atlantic2001.com or www.wearc.com 

Thanks also to Val, Amy and Ingeborg in B&W Deloitte UK, Paris and Cologne for coordinating fundraising in these offices. 

Jo Manning 
23/11/01

Simon and Istvan in Unis Voyager have passed the next milestone in their race across the Atlantic and have now completed three quarters of the distance. 

During Monday 19th November they reached the stage where they now have less than 700 miles to row. 

Drama struck before the weekend when the water maker on board UniS Voyager packed up completely. A lot of air had got into the system which is bad for the crucial membrane element. In the previous race in 1997, failing water makers were a common but serious problem for the crews - a supply of fresh water is vital to continue the race. Despite improvements in water maker's  design, with a new model which seems a lot more reliable, it has still caused some crews a major upset in the race this time: 

* Team 32 - Uppsala.com from Sweden had a problem with their water maker and had to get freshwater supplies from a support yacht but then managed to fix their water maker 

* Team 22 - Challenge Yourself, reported a minor problem with their water maker which they then managed to resolve themselves 

* Team 33 - La Gironde had a mechanical problem with their water maker and used their reserve water supply which run down to a minimum. They had to set off their emergency EPIRB beacon to obtain further supplies of water. 

Fortunately Simon and Istvan had spent hours pouring over the instructions for the water maker whilst on dry land and had practiced taking it to pieces and, more importantly, then fitting it back together again. They have a good stock of spares as well. After nearly two hours work, they seemed to have fixed the problem and are producing water again, and it is still working fine now after several days. On board the boat they have containers of fresh water acting as ballast which they could use as a drinking reserve. As long as the water maker holds out for another week, they should have enough water to reach Barbados. 

Their radio appearances continue on Tuesday mornings with Island FM and on Fridays with BBC Southern Counties. These provide a welcome chance to get some news from home and to talk to someone other than each other. On the interview with Island FM last week, Simon and Istvan were given an update on how much had been raised from the successful "Rags for Rowers" event in Guernsey where they raised 4,400 in a day for Les Bourgs Hospice, with money still coming in. Supported by many of the companies on Guernsey, people participated by making a donation and wearing their own clothes to work. The fundraising day was a great success and Simon and Istvan think the response so far has been fantastic. "We are thrilled to have raised so much in a single day". Now they have achieved this, they would like to stretch their target further. Simon and Istvan were particularly pleased to see that Elizabeth College Guernsey had raised the most money for a single organisation, as they are both former pupils. Before they set off for the race start in Tenerife Simon and Istvan had delivered lively and colourful presentations at several assemblies at Elizabeth College to tell the pupils all about the race and the planning and preparations that had been involved. Their presentations must have captured the imaginations of many of the pupils judging from the school's fundraising efforts. If you didn't get the chance to participate in rags for Rowers but wish to donate some money, then please forward any donations to payable to "Les Bourgs Hospice" via me as soon as possible. Many thanks to all the companies who participated. 

Their spirits are high, especially since they passed the half way mark, and the destination of Barbados seems so much closer. They hope to arrive in Barbados in early December. One of the things they are looking forward to after all the time at sea is stretching out their legs and going for long walks. By now they are accustomed to the routine at sea and have really made UniS Voyager their home. But Simon and Istvan have one concern outstanding, and that is how to get the boat back to Guernsey when they finish the race. Having devoted so much time to preparing the boat and they will have spent two months at sea on her, they couldn't bear to leave their boat behind. They are currently looking for a sponsor to step in and help them get the boat home - otherwise it is a long row home ! If you would be interested in sponsoring the boat's return journey to Guernsey, please contact Simon_and_Istvan@hotmail.com.
 
The weather looks fairly good for the next 6 days, although they could do with a bit more wind. Light winds of ENE 10 knots are forecast every day for the next few days. Simon and Istvan had hoped for a bit stronger trade winds to speed them on the last part of their journey. The calm weather has enabled a bit more boat cleaning to go on, and today they were joined by a swordfish for company and managed to take some video of it swimming along with them. 

Many thanks to everyone who has sent messages to Simon and Istvan since the last update. They can't reply personally, but please keep the e-mails coming to simon_and_istvan@hotmail.com (less than 120 characters). Full race details can be seen on www.wearc.com or via Simon and Istvan's website at www.atlantic2001.com 

UniS Voyager reaches half way point ! 
Thu, 8 Nov 2001 18:44:47 -0600 

UniS Voyager reaches the half way point in the Ward Evans Atlantic Rowing challenge 

Firstly, a thank you to all of you who have sent messages to Simon and Istvan this week, especially the "first time messagers" and people at B&W. They are sorry they can't respond to you all individually but they really appreciate the messages to cheer them along and the news from home. 

Meanwhile, here is an update to keep you all posted. 

On Monday 5th November, UniS Voyager reached the half way point in the Ward Evans Atlantic Rowing challenge and so is now halfway to the paradise of the Barbados beaches awaiting them. As Simon said, "it now feels more like we are rowing to Barbados rather than away from Tenerife". On Monday night they had celebration meal which was a welcome change from the normal diet of freeze dried food. The menu consisted of self-heating packs of lemon chicken, Salt &Vinegar Pringles (Simon is addicted to these and I am surprised he has any left after a month at sea !), tinned peaches, refresher chews and some lemon squash. It may not sound like a feast to us, but for them it made their day. 

Both the race and the temperatures are hotting up as the fleet of boats heads west. For Simon and Istvan now the next big milestone is to reach the 1000 miles to go stage, which should happen in a couple of days from now. They are currently spurred on by reaching a place in the top 10, which they have achieved on a few days, although their key aim is to finish the race in the best time they can whilst enjoying the whole experience. 

There was a scare this week with a threat of the satellite telephone being cut off, but with some rapid calls and some more money we are glad to say that it is still working. To lose the communications by phone would have been a real blow to the boys. 

Today is 10th day out of last 11 or so with no or little wind with a maximum of force 2. It has been really sweltering hot and temperatures have been reaching about 35 degrees after midday. It is hard to keep going in the heat, and not give in to the temptation to rest. With some ingeniously slung bits of canvas and curtains, they keep the sun out of cabin whilst doing what they can to keep ventilation going through. The heat and lack of even a breeze makes the conditions fairly unpleasant to row in, and they take care is taken to cover up and keep the sun off them when they can. The suntan lotion (with some generous help by Boots) is being slapped around liberally. Also it means hats and glasses on all day. The sunglasses are great - without them the glare off the water would be unbearable, the sun is so bright and they are impressed by the effectiveness of the lenses. 

Today they have had a slight head wind, not enough to cause problems but it has taken a little of their speed. From what I have heard some of the other boats have experienced stronger headwinds than UniS Voyager in the last week, so their southerly course compared to the fleet has paid off. They are well positioned now for the last half of the race. 

Many people have been asking about the hurricane, Michelle, that has battered Cuba, and wondered how it would effect the Atlantic rowers. The hurricane tracked northwest away from the Rowers and was expected to cross just south of the Florida Keys. Despite the fact the hurricane was moving away from the rowers, they will get effected - though indirectly. In 4 or 5 days time, swell developed by the hurricane will reach the rowers. It is unlikely to significantly effect their progress, but it will turn what 
otherwise may have been flat seas, into rolling hills! The lead boats have broken free of their adverse weather and are starting to reclaim greater mileage. Partly because of the hurricane, the trade winds will continue to be light so the Kiwi boys in Telecom Challenge No 1 and Freedom No. 11 are unlikely to be able to claim very high daily mileage. At the back of the fleet today or tomorrow, for those north of about 18N, winds are likely to swing to the south or southwest (headwinds). Again winds are unlikely to be above force 3 or 4 but it will make forward progress very difficult. The good news for these people is the trade winds will return in a couple of days, and are likely to be stronger than they have been in quite a while. 

Simon has spoken to colleagues at B&W Deloitte this week in London, and has set up a rota now to call in every week alternating around the various offices where he was worked and has friends: London, Epsom, Paris, and Cologne. 

Both Simon and Istvan are developing strange sun tans. The tops of their thighs are very brown from the rowing position and the backs of their legs are still white. There is not much space on the boat for them to lie on their fronts to even up their tans before they get to Barbados ! They also have pale hands due to wearing gloves at the end of nut brown arms. 

They have been taking some photos to record their trip and about an hour of video so far. Some of the video has been taken at night using a special infrared night function, which has produced some impressive, if surreal, footage. The time they most feel like getting the camera out is in the evening when the heat of the days is wearing off, but of course then the sun is right behind the rower. I have suggested that they alter course for a few minutes for the sake of art and some good photos, but funnily enough, they were not to keen on doing that. 

During the week Simon and Istvan set about the serious task of lightening the boat. The main weight on board was from all the food, and on reaching the half way point they decided to assess how much they had consumed and how much more food they would need. In the end, they got rid of a weeks food, but made sure they took the best bits out, which for them are the tins of fruit, Doritos, twiglets, biscuits and all the deserts except the chocolate pudding, which they are not very keen on, despite all expectations ! 

They also had 15 gas canisters on board to start to heat water for cooking. They had only used 2 so far in a month at sea and have thrown away 9 full ones leaving 3 full ones and one still in use. With all that weight gone, the boat is handling differently, and is more sensitive to weight moving around on deck and less stable now the food has gone. They are more careful to balance their movements now. 

Some more domestic details on board: 
* Making 30 litres of water a day (so the power seems fine Paul - great news) 
* Washing clothes once every 5 days since very hot and sweaty 
* Shaving once a week and showering once a week in fresh water which is bliss 
  - what an invention shower bags are - thanks  Roger for introducing us to those 
* Getting up later since daylight is shifting as they are making progress westwards. 
* Now getting up at about 7.15 instead of 6.30 UK time 

When asked if they had forgotten anything they had intended on bringing, they couldn't think of anything. So all the planning, inventories and endless lists were worth it. But the VHF doesn't work well. This was a problem back at the start line, 
but they hoped it would improve. The radio can transmit but not receive and it seems to drain its battery as well so that when they get it out to use having seen a ship in the distance, not much happens. 

As for things they wish they had taken with hindsight are : some comedy recorded on a minidisk, little speakers to make a change from head phones and Istvan would like a bathroom ! Quite like to have brought some German bread or dried bread and another couple of sheepskin seat covers as they get fairly grotty quite quickly. 

Well, enough details for now. There will be another radio interview with BBC Southern Counties on Friday morning between 8.45am and 8.55am UK time. The frequency is 104.6 FM or 104.0 FM if you are in South London or the South of England, or try 1368 AM if you are interested in tuning in. And you can still hear their live reports on Guernsey' "Island FM" radio station at 8.30am every Tuesday morning, also via the Internet (see link on their website). 

Send any messages to simon_and_istvan@hotmail.com (less than 120 characters including spaces and punctuation) 
As always, you can check on their progress on www.atlantic2001.com and also for the whole race on www.wearc.com 

Thanks for your continuing support and keep the messages coming 
Best wishes 
Jo 

Jo Manning 

  1983-2001 Ocean Rowing Society

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