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Poetic blog from Bev near Middlesbrough
July 12 19.15
 


Racing to win the Virgin GB row,
a crew of girls aboard Go Commando.
Rowing around Britain, this intrepid four
have been out at sea for a month and more
through high winds, storm, rain and shine
the girls are striving to make good time.
With messages of goodwill they know
friends and family shout, ‘go Seagals, go!’
Now almost there and on the home straight
the aim of all is to try not to be late
for engagements and dates previously known.
The Seagals are ready to finally go home…
 

Blog from Laura Thomasson on Go Commando near Sunderland

July 12 12.01
 

The crew of Go Commando are a happy lot today, after covering 30miles overnight and arriving in Newcastle 6-12hours ahead of schedule.

We have had wildly variable weather over the past few days, a theme that has followed us through our entire journey in fact.

The wind doesn't seem to want to make its mind up and has continually flipped direction, building to blasting speeds (never in our favour) and then dropping to a complete lull, during which time we row our socks off trying to make the most of light/non-existent winds.

For the past week we have had the tempting forecast of northerly winds lingering around us but so far they are yet to arrive.

If we were to get strong northerly winds we could really make up for some lost ground and speed on down the remaining east coast. If, if, if.....

One thing for sure is that we are nearing the finish line, slowly but surely.

Our thoughts and conversations seem to revolve around what we are looking forward to when we get home.

I can spend a whole two-hour rowing shift dreaming of a long hot shower, crispy clean cotton sheets on a soft bed and a feast of fresh food.

In the meantime we are being kept occupied by the ever-increasing signs of civilisation, brightly lit towns and cities have replaced the natural light nights that we had got used to further north and we can see the stars for the first time in weeks due to the dark skies at night.

The RNLI lifeboats have been out to see us twice over the last few days and they always leave us with the kind reassurance that they are never far away, I would love to look into volunteering to work for the RNLI when I get home.

Our PR friend Katie Scoggins is hoping to see us in Scarborough tonight/tomorrow, I hope that we are there during daytime to see her but if not we'll be celebrating together very soon!





Blog from Bev's mum, Linda aka Scottie Ross
July 10  21.05
 

Bev's Mum here. I got a phone call from Bev today and it was just really good to hear her voice.

Ever since the Seagals left London we've been following their journey avidly. www.gbrowchallenge.com, www.seagals.co.uk, Twitter, 'Haigh Lyon SeaGals' Row on Face Book all get checked first thing every morning, last thing at night and numerous times during the day.

If the tracker takes a while to update or there hasn't been a new blog for a day, we wonder what's going on and worry!

Watching the tracker, when the little pink boat goes round in circles and we know they've anchored again, it's hard to concentrate at work and we check in anxiously for signs of movement.

I travelled with Bev's Dad when he was a merchant seaman and I know what a storm at sea looks like and I know how small Go Commando is.

I'm immensely proud of Bev - of all the Seagals in fact - and it has always been a relief to know how experienced in ocean rowing the other Seagals are.

I didn't have a lot of time to get used to the idea of the challenge before it happened - but then neither did Bev!

I'm hoping to see the boat as it travels past Tyneside but realise that's dependent on winds, times and tides.

Proud parents will be waiting in London at the finish and will breathe a huge sigh of relief that day - till the next challenge comes along!

Roll on London!

 

Blog from Beverley Ashton on Go Commando 

July 10, 18.50 
 

Rowing for this long starts to take its toll, aching joints, tired limbs
and of course sore hands.

In the first few weeks hands ached with blisters and new callouses forming.

Soon the skin on our hands started to toughen where it was needed, but then the joints themselves start to show the strain from the continued work.

It's given me a much better insight into arthritis as essentially that's
what the aches in our hands are.

I'd never properly understood the full
extent of the debilitating nature before, it's not just that the pain
stops full function the motion itself goes.

Sometimes when I ask my hand
to do something it's like the message is delivered by second class post, there's a notable delay.

Sometimes my hand isn't sore at all it just won't do things, like it's asleep but I can still feel it. There are good
days and bad days,

I've developed a new grip for many things (such as rowing and bringing in the anchor) and am used to just struggling with others.

Hopefully hands will recover quickly once we're home.

 

Blog from Belinda Kirk, skipper of Go Commando on the near miss with the tanker Whitstar

New video of the near collision is on our YouTube channel or on

Captain Kirk’s log
9th July 1400hrs east of Fife Ness. Sitting ducks today.

Myself and Bev learnt yet another thing we don’t like about being on anchor - that we are sitting ducks should a large boat choose to steam directly at us.

About half an hour ago we were sat on deck making silly video blogs and songs to pass the time when Bev suddenly spotted a cargo ship to our stern.

It was travelling at speed directly at us. For a moment time slowed - surely that's not really coming directly this way? I thought.....

I could see its bow profile exactly and see waves equally on either side of its bow.....it really Is coming straight towards us.

Normally, at this point we'd think about moving out if its way but we were anchored. Taking up the anchor takes at least 10mins plus we couldn't have fought the tide and wind - both would have pushed us north....towards the cargo ship. We were sitting ducks.

Our only option was to get the ship to change course and fast. I grabbed the VHF from the cabin. On channel 16 I called out for the ship 4 miles east north east of Fife Ness.....praying they would recognise theIr position and would answer quickly.

The Forth coastguard were brilliant. Within seconds they crackled onto the radio identifying the ship as 'Whitstar' and hailing them to let them know we were calling "Whitstar, Whitstar, Whitstar this is ocean rowing boat Go Commando. You are on collision course with us. We are on anchor directly in front of you. Please change your course."

Whit Star came on the radio - hurray!- but they said they couldn't see us - oh help!

Being such an insignificant speck in the ocean means very few of the big tankers and cargo ships we come close to, even know we’re there.

I dived back into the cabin to turn on our 'Sea me' it’s a device that makes our tiny speck of a boat bigger on radar.

I kept talking to Whitstar "you are half a mile from us".

I turned round and Bev was already ready and waiting with signal flares in hand.

The last resort.

Finally Whitstar saw us and immediately veered to port. As it turned and passed us we got an idea of just how big it was and how very fast it was moving.

A very scary moment of realisation of what nearly happened and a reminder of just how important anchor watch can be.

Enormous thanks to Forth Coastguard

 


Blog from Beverley Ashton
July 10, south of Dunbar


We set off on Thursday evening hoping to get across the Tay and Firth of Forth in one go, we believed we had a 24hr weather window. 12 hrs in the winds began to build again and boat control began to diminish.

Soon all we were doing was being turned by wind and waves as we tried to find our course, it was time to drop the hook again.

We've all been frustrated with how much time we've spent on anchor, but this time spirits were higher as we knew that more good weather was forecast for later in the day.

We were anchored about 5 miles off St Andrews Bay and just about clear of the Tay, it was time to return to our anchor routine.

As the wind built so too did the waves, Belinda and I sat on deck passing the time by discussing what we wanted to eat when we returned home while getting soaked by the occasional big wave crashing over the side.

At one point as I glanced up I saw a ship maybe 3 miles away. It was heading directly for us and moving quickly, you could see the large breaking waves on its hull.

'Um' I said to Belinda, 'I've just spotted a ship and it seems to be heading this way.'

We've encountered the path of other ships but this time was different; this time we were anchored due to our lack of manoeuvrability and so were dependant on the ship changing course.

We both sat still and watched the ship for about 20seconds hoping for a sign that the course wasn't direct at all. However, as we watched it just became more evident that we were in their path.

Realising something needed to change, Belinda grabbed the hand-held VHF radio and I grabbed the flares box.

 

VHF radio and flares

It's hard to radio a ship when you don't know who they are so Belinda hailed them by location.

Almost immediately, the coastguard responded, 'Hello Go Commando, this is Forth Coastguard the ship you are trying to contact is Whitstar'

Belinda was now able to hail the ship by name. 'Whitstar…Whitstar…Whitstar… this is ocean rowing boat Go Commando, Go Commando, Go Commando.'

Thankfully they responded quickly and Belinda explained our predicament and the collision course but all he time they were moving closer.

They confirmed that they couldn't see us but were prepared to change course to avoid a hit.

As Belinda informed them they were a little over half a mile away, I opened the flare box and took out a white hand-held flare. Ready to light the flare, finally we saw Whitstar begin to turn and knew that we'd managed to avoid a hit.

flares

We thanked the coastguard for the quick interception and took a few moments to collect our thoughts. Relief, that in the face of a possible disaster we had stayed calm, taken the best action and everyone was safe.

This reminded us why we sit out in the cold, the wind, the waves, the rain and the swell - the weather is not the only risk to us when we are anchored.


Captain Kirk’s log.

8th July 1500hrs

Lunan Bay 56* 37.666n 2*27.424w
 

We are yet again on anchor. At the mercy of the unseasonable and in my opinion now unreasonable winds

It is sobering to think that last week we were averaging 60 miles every day but in the last nine days we've done less than 60miles. Gutting.

The mood on Go Commando is sombre at the thought of yet another second let alone another hour or day stuck on anchor. This is where we are really needing to dig deep.

This is the hardest part of the expedition so far. Boredom and frustration are much bigger barriers than sore muscles or even the constant lack of sleep.

We are all waiting, holding ourselves together until that weather window arrives
until then any progress is welcome.

We have just rowed for two hours against a 15 knot wind with little to slack tide beneath us....i.e. in desperate times even making 0.5 knots is better than sitting still.

On the bright side there is hope once again for an opportunity this evening.....the wind still against us but only lightly - that's the forecast and we'll be so ready



Blog from Belinda Kirk, skipper of Go Commando 
July 7 22.10
 

Good blog from Laura. Yes four women in a 24x4ft space for five weeks is an intense experience.

Laura and I have had a chat and a laugh over the wording of our blogs.

Anyway our thoughts are now very much trained on the wind and hopefully whether we can strike out for Eyemouth tomorrow morning....fingers, toes, eyes and mouths crossed
 


Blog from Laura Thomasson on Go Commando near Montrose
July 7 07.25
 

It was interesting to read my team mates’ version of accounts from the Force 10 storm, we endured last Sunday.

We all share such a small space and see the same sights, yet the way in which we see them seems to differ depending on personal feelings and individual interpretation.

As a nurse I find people very intriguing; their personalities, mannerisms and overall behaviour.

Being on board Go Commando for over a month with three other women has been like a social experiment!

We are all such different people, from different walks of life and we have had to try and be understanding of each other’s strengths and weaknesses.

The act of being empathetic is to put yourself in someone else’s shoes and try to see things from their perspective, this is something that I always try to do, yet as people we are instinctively selfish especially when we are in extreme situations.

I found it hard to read Belinda's account that I "shrieked" as we neared the rocks, especially as my recollection was that I had calmly responded to the situation by swiftly lifting the anchor and rowing to safety with Angela on the oars, Beverley guiding and Belinda off-shift.

But, as I say, this is only my interpretation of events.

Similarly, Angela and I chose the cove that we stayed in during the force 10, yet she writes that she awoke in the rocky cove.

On the other hand, it is funny to think that such small discrepancies in stories manages to frustrate me and I feel that this demonstrates the intensity of our situation, whereby the smallest disagreement can seem like the end of the world!

One very important bit of advice given to me by my dad and instilled in me by the military is to 'take it on the chin and move on.' Never hold a grudge, especially on a 24ft rowing boat!

The life lessons I have learnt upon this boat over the last month will undoubtedly go on to shape the person I am becoming and I will take with me the wealth of experiences that our adventure has provided us with.


 

Blog from Beverley Ashton on Go Commando off the coast of Angus.

 July 6

It may sound a little odd, but I've never been that taken with the sea; in fact I don't like the open water at all. So what am I doing rowing around Britain?

It's partly due to the above that I've taken on the challenge, to confront one of my personal insecurities.

This race is a huge test of physical and mental endurance and I want to see if I'm strong enough to see it through. So far it's going well, it's been very tough at times but not once have I felt I couldn't do this.

Without doubt the hardest aspect is the mental challenge, sure 12hrs of rowing a day is a physical test but it becomes a manageable, known quantity.

Mentally there is a lot more to take on, the uncertainty of how long you'll be out here for, being confined to such minimal space, no personal space, constantly on top of others and little contact with the outside world; in addition to these, for me, the fact I find the open water an uncomfortable place to be. With the recent high winds and bad sea conditions I've really tested myself.

I'm proud of myself and the crew for how well we've coped.

The challenge has been even greater than any of us expected and we still have a fair stretch to go.

Rumour has it that weather will be more favourable by the end of the week so hopefully we'll be home soon.

 

Captain Kirk’s log

5th July on the move again finally!!!!!!!!
 

“Don't count the days, make the days count" Mohammad Ali

We've all been at sea longer than we initially imagined and we're all missing friends families and partners and specific dates and events where we should be now.

It’s hard, really hard still being so far from Tower Bridge. We are starting to count the days til we return But yesterday a friend facebooked me the quote above and he's right.

I worked like mad to get this expedition on wheels because I wanted the unique experience of it. As tough as it is, it is special and I will make the days count

Today we were followed by the most boisterous seal, yet he came so close I nearly whacked him on the bottom with my oar by mistake....

Making days count......that's what I came to experience –

Cheeky seals - priceless!

 

Captain Kirk’s log
4th July (Part 2)

1600hrs: Rogue wave in Bullers of Buchan
 

Time for me and Bev to swap. I'm already on deck looking at the bird nurseries and the crowds of baby birds taking refuge in our little bay.

Bev's awake and she and Laura chat at the entrance to their cabin as she climbs out.......and then from nowhere we are hit by a wall of water. The deck is awash with water up to our knees.

I hear the girls calling.....The bow cabin is swamped... I start passing jugs and sponges forward.

Bev and Laura bail jugs of water out of the cabin. All their stuff is wet but more dangerous is that the cabin and deck are flooded. I get the bilge pump on to drain the deck. Laura and Bev keep on at their cabin.

A rogue wave must have hit us. As well as flooding us it felt like the boat was pushed over almost on its side, thankfully all three of us held on and Angela is safely inside.

Poor Laura gets seasick again though. We hang sleeping bag and kit out to dry on deck once the majority of the water is bailed out then Laura shrieks.

The wave must have dislodged our anchor and we have drifted towards some rocks. We are almost on top of them.

Laura and Angela row like crazy away from them, Bev lifts the rest of the anchor. I come out of the cabin to find frenetic activity and shouts of 'Belinda'.

We drop the anchor again at a safe distance. That was a bit too close for any of us.

The cold and the swell finally takes its toll on poor Laura- her seasickness comes on again finally the storm dies down and water settles.

We all try to get some rest. I give Laura and Bev my sleeping bag which I feel a little self conscious, might smell, no one has washed properly for over a month and my sleeping bag has gotten damp from wet weather gear and condensation - everything smells a bit of mildew - and probably everyone does.

Thankfully though we are all safe and can have a dry sleep. Now the wind is dropping we can go as soon as the tide comes about....I think we’ll all enjoy getting out of here.
 


Captain Kirk’s log
3rd July 2200hrs Bullers of Buchan.
 

The storm warnings of gale force winds means we have had to take shelter in a rocky bay.

Shockingly 35-knot winds are predicted over the next 24 hrs. Winds worse than anything we have seen so far and frankly winds that no one wants to try to handle out at sea.

We have five more hours before the storm is predicted to hit and I was hoping to get Go Commando to the River Ythan but I can't take the risk that we won't reach it.

We cannot be in open water when this hits. We've just had a crew meeting and agree that we won't make it in time because the winds have built early and our progress has slowed significantly so we've anchored up in a bay Bev and Laura spotted.

It’s so small it doesn't even appear on our scale maps. It’s also beautiful and ominous, surrounded by huge cliffs. But its shelter and were glad to have found it.

Once I'd checked with the compass that there's definitely southerly protection, we put the anchor down.

Phew, just getting round behind the cliffs in the building winds was a relief. Much calmer waters we've hunkered down now waiting for the storm.

Laura and Angela come off the blades and myself and Bev go on watch 00.00hrs Bev and I reset the anchor. Too close to rocks so moved over a bit.

This bay is incredibly dramatic with steep cliffs to the west and south. The noise of the waves and wind is drowned out by the zillions of nesting gulls, shags and guillemots

0700hrs July 4

Back on deck at 0400hrs to relieve Angela and Laura. Conditions worse by the end of our shift but not too bad.

1000hrs back on deck. Really wet and windy now. Pretty miserable weather to have to sit on deck in. Our trusty plough anchor is holding.

The weather worsens during our shift. Thank goodness we're not out at sea in this!!!!

By midday it’s awful, 35-knot winds on the other side of the cliffs, sea state even inside the bay is bumpy - see video.

Huge waves crash on rocks in middle of bay, sending spray 12ft in the air and scattering the gulls

1500hrs I'm woken up by the boat being battered by waves. It feels like the boat is being picked up by a big hand and shaken. Everyone on deck ok.

The waves and wind must be bending around the cliffs and into the bay.

Second part of blog coming after my next shift




Blog from Laura Thomasson on Go Commando
July 5, 15.30
 

I'm sure that you will get a few separate accounts of our experience yesterday with 35-knot winds, as it was probably one of our closest calls to getting into a dangerous situation.

We had good prior warning that force 10 gales were forecast along the NE coast so despite our longing to continue along the coast to Aberdeen, we played it safe and found a protective cove not far from Peterhead.

The cove was a spectacular sight with jagged rocks, steep cliffs and a menagerie of gulls covering the cliff face.

We carefully edged our way into the rocky cove and anchored in a central position; unfortunately we were unable to get nicely tucked under the protection of the cliff due to a rocky ledge that protruded under the water.

At the time of anchoring the water was fairly calm and it was hard to believe that a big storm was on its way but we resisted the urge to continue down the coastline and stayed put in our cove awaiting the building winds.

The hours seemed to tick by slowly and I began to wonder whether we had been lucky enough to miss the strong winds, until at 06.00 swelling waves started to roll into the cove.

From this time onwards the waves steadily built and the wind began to tunnel down from the cliff top, blowing us out at an angle that was broadside to the waves rolling in.

Facing the waves side on we took the impact of 20foot waves that flooded the deck and also flooded Bev and I's cabin during one of our change over of shifts.

We filled a 10-litre bucket of water in an attempt to bail out the cabin, all of our bedding and belongings were soaked just as I was about to snuggle into my sleeping bag and warm up from the wet and cold outside.

As if matters couldn't have got worse, I was rocked around in the cabin so much as I was trying to empty it of water that I began to feel the creeping nausea of sea sickness.

The best place to be when sea sickness hits you is on the deck where you can see the horizon, so I sat out on deck for 9hours in my wet clothes trying to suppress the urge to be sick!

During this time we began to notice that we were slowly being dragged on our anchor line towards the rocks that were coming perilously close to our starboard side. With the waves continuing to rage into the cove we had no option but to sit it out and watch the boat edge slowly nearer to the rocks.

After 12hours of crashing waves and streaming winds the sun gradually began to creep out from behind the clouds and the waves slowly began to subside.

At 2100hrs we were finally safe enough to lift the anchor and row away from the rocks that had gone from being 30feet away to only one foot away.

A lucky escape! With the relief of re-anchoring a safe distance away and looking out upon the calming waters I promptly gave into my sea sickness and threw up over the side of the boat.

What a day! Let's hope the winds that are forecast for Wednesday and Thursday are a little kinder to us.


From Belinda July 4, 22.00

All good here. No comms, bow cabin swamped, lot of wet kit but crew safe. Rogue wave. Spirits high. B.

Frightening Times on Go Commando
By Angela via text to Deb, July 4, 2010
 

The SeaGals have been dealing with dangerous weather the last couple of days.
Angela sent me info about their ordeal via text message a couple of hours ago.

She said, “tg (thank God, the) anchor held today otherwise (we) would be coming home in casket (s.) 3-4 meter waves hail (gale) force winds and too close to smashing on rocks for my taste.”

She explained on the phone that, when she woke for her shift, they were anchored in a bay full of rocks.

”Could have died out here today, no surviving in this water just rock cliffs around with 12-20ft waves crashing into them, it would have made toothpicks of our boat and cast us to the sea.

"Rogue wave flooded bow cabin. It is still windy and choppy but we moved farther away from rocks. We were just at the wave break barely getting over the top of them, maybe. I

"It's my break now and it's been tough day. I am going to sleep.”

She also wanted me to let everyone that they are all fine.

They gave Laura and Bev a dry sleeping bag from the back cabin, while they dry out their things.

During her next shift, she hopes they can make it to a bay without rocks.


From Oceanpaddler 47
July 4 00.15
 

Hi Angela and the Crew!

Sounds scary with all that approaching wind and rain.

I hope you are able to row ahead enough to find shelter, without losing ground. I will be watching with my fingers crossed.

Just over 400 nautical miles to go. It is counting down! You can do it!
Lisa Barrett
Long Beach, California
 


Blog from Beverely Ashton in Go Commando near Peterhead
July 3. 16.25
 

One of the things about rowing against the weather is that it's very difficult to plan or predict where you'll anchor.

Yesterday we anchored near Fraserburgh, an area that it appears still has a very active fishing workforce.

On three occasions we found ourselves looking at trawlers baring down seemingly straight at us.

On each occasion they changed course very late and passed within 10 to 50 metres of our boat.


Captain Kirk’s log
2 July. Stir crazy in Fraserburgh

Sitting on anchor is really boring and if five weeks at sea in a 24x5 ft prison isn't enough to drive us all, crazy then sitting within sight of a perfectly good pub, restaurant and hotel with shower and bed is surely going to tip us over the edge into la la land......

You'd think that was enough for us to deal with but now to top it off boats are trying to ram us.... See film.....whooah!

We are quite the attraction here - a number of boats have come to look at the crazy women in the rowing boat - but they are coming a bit too close for comfort - the equivalent of white van drivers of the sea - keep your distance!

PS My boyfriend drives a white van so I'm almost allowed to say that :-/

PPS we have a new rower onboard called Botau BelkI. The other Seagals can't see her but I know she's there

PPPS cheeky fisherman just did the "you're crazy" hand gesture at Laura / pointing at head and drawing a circle/.

Hah! We're all perfectly sane thanks, rowing round Britain is totally normal, Botau Belki told me so…



From Oceanpaddler47
July 1, 20.20
 

Hey Seagals, Ouch! I remember those sores on your hands and the stiffness from your previous races Angela.

Though, I did see them on your hands, I never saw them on your buns, though I heard about them. I can only imagine the sting of all that grainy salt on open wounds.

I am sure with sores on both everyone's hands and feet, it is hard to find a way to be comfy.

Because of your athleticism, once the race is over and you are dry and out of that salty atmosphere, don't you recoup somewhat quickly? Do your hands ever truly recover? Or do you lose more and more permanent R.O.M. with each race?

Keep up the good work everyone. Despite all the medical things, you are doing very well.

Lisa , Long Beach, CA
 

July 1 20.15

Message from The Promise Bf21
 

That's the wind down now girls, time to start rowing again .

 



Medical bulletin from nurse Laura Thomasson on Go Commando  
05.15 July 1
 

After four weeks at sea you can imagine that the medical issues on the boat have been varied and sometimes a bit of a challenge for me as the medic, but as you know I like a good challenge!

Initial blisters on hands and heels have now hardened up, although the 'claw hand' effect has provided constant pain for the crew, for some more than others.

We use anti-inflammatory tablets and gels to improve the range of movement in our hands and to reduce swelling and pain, but after sleeping we have found that our hands seize up and it can make little tasks like doing up zips and grasping the oars painful until our hands warm up.

I'm not embarrassed to tell you that my bottom has been particularly sore, not helped by my personal padding gradually wasting away!

Luckily, Angela has been able to provide me with some brilliant antibiotic powder that has helped to heal my poor bottom and I feel that it has literally saved my ass!

Some crew members are suffering from bottom problems of another type, while the rest of the crew suffer the after effects of the noxious fumes wafting passed!

Angela affectionately names them 'barking spiders' while I am genuinely worried about their insides.

Now that I have let you all know the secret behind our new record breaking speed I better go, but please be assured that despite general wear and tear we are all holding up well and battling on, determined to come home and get some well-earned rest.




Blog from Laura Thomasson on Go Commando.

19.23 June 30. Near Macduff
 

Once again Angela and I had a pretty amazing 3hour night shift. In the early hours if the 30th Angela spotted a fin on the horizon (her ability to spot things miles away always amazes me,)

I desperately scanned the area where she was pointing but my eyesight leaves alot to be desired!

Then, the arching back of a whale with a triangular fin rolled out of the water 300metres from our stern.

What type of whale it was I'm not sure and it disappeared into the depths before we had a chance to get a better look.

One whale sighting in one shift would be more than enough but we were blessed with a second view 2hours later.

Whether it was the same whale again I'm not sure, but it was obviously more interested in us this time as it rolled up and out of the water 3 or 4 times, even showing its head at one point, probably taking a sideways glance at us to see what this strange yellow boat was. It's fin was slightly curved at the top, suggesting that it was probably a minke whale.

I apologise that I wasn't quite quick enough with my camera to get a photo but you can take my word for it that it was a beautiful sight.



Blog from Seagals skipper Belinda Kirk on Go Commando

Captain Kirk’s log  June 27 Cape Wrath.
 
Mobbed by birds…Phil on Debonair 2…puffin…orca…incredibly naive wildlife up here. What a day!

 

Cape Wrath has a formidable reputation. It has been weighing on my mind for the last few days and had been hoping it wouldn't live up to its ferocious name......Tonight we rounded it and it did give us a little surprise.

We've had an extraordinary day in one of the most remote areas we've passed. Big, rugged cliffs and layers of mountains stretching inland.

 

western scottish coast

[there's a full size version of this photo in our photo gallery]

 

So few people live along the Sutherland coast and from Go Commando it definitely feels like the most remote part of Britain.

Even the wildlife has a different temperament - Laura and Angela communed with dolphins and Bev and I got closer than ever to seals, puffins and even an orca. We both held our breath as a very tall thin dorsal fin came closer and closer to the boat, disappearing then surfacing again closer each time.

Orcas are also called killer whales, somewhat unfairly, as they don't pose a threat to people.....however when something that big and powerful Is approaching our little boat it definitely makes you think. ...A careless flick of its tail could potentially flip us.

Our exciting brush with the whale felt like a taste of what was to come. I think we were all a bit on edge knowing Cape Wrath was just up ahead. We anchored five miles south of Cape Wrath in Sandwood Bay and waited for the tide to change.

While there, we had a visitor - Phil in yacht Debonair 2 - great to speak to someone new!

Ha ha. Sorry gals, only kidding. (See Phil Mitchell's blog, below)

Sunrise on the western Scottish coast

At seven o’clock the tide changed and we raced north with the current - travelling at nearly five knots. I’d taken a lot of advice on the passage round Cape Wrath and today’s weather.

The safest route was to hug the land, to go with the tide and at all costs avoid a wind-against- tide situation that would whip the sea at the cape into a frenzy.

So Bev and I set off at 1900, rounding Cape Wrath at 20.30. So good so far, a little bumpy water but no big deal, then round to the northern side, where the rocks are.

We rounded the head ever so slightly too wide and started to be pushed out to sea.

We fought against the sea for a while but had been rowing for two hours already so were glad to get Laura and Angela fresh on the oars at shift change.

Unfortunately, even they couldn't win and we rowed on the spot, such was the power of the water.

So it was time for Plan B....against all advice but with no other option in front of me, I asked Laura to turn the boat round and go with the flow... out to sea.

The wind had died down and the water looked ok, so we went for it. Luckily we went out and then were able to push back round easing away from the rocks and back on track....phew!

It was a bit of a push but we'd made it round Cape Wrath

 

 

Blog from Bev Ashton

15.45 June 28, Near Dounreay, Caithness
 

A couple of thank-you messages. Thanks to my friend Selina for the loan of her dry-bags that have kept my clothes dry during the time we have been on Go Commando and for helping to organise my life on board.

And thanks, too, to Ellie for the loan of her iPod with its 6,500 tracks. When the sun’s shining we sometime put the iPod on the deck and sing along.

It’s now nearly four weeks since we got on the boat and sometimes, when I’m rowing with my blistered hands and my sore fingers, I think I must be crazy doing this.

But other days it’s the most natural thing to do. We get on and do our chores and row and it only seems like yesterday since we left London.

When we turn the corner at John O’Groats it will feel like we’re really going home.

 
Blog from Phil Mitchell on board his yacht, Debonair II
June 28 13.15hrs

Came upon these "Gals" just south of Cape Wrath yesterday whilst sailing around N of Scotland in my yacht Debonair. They were waiting for favourable tide conditions to round the cape. What a pleasure to meet them, they were full of good spirit & enthusiasm, a great adventure they are having.

Hope pics are of use...

Seagals from Debonair


Blog from Laura near Point of Stoer

June 27 0725
 

Wow! Our Saturday night was brilliant! Angela and I initially took on the 2300-0200 shift with little enthusiasm but we were soon to be kept awake by a huge pod of dolphins, both in number and size.

Up to 20 dolphins gradually surrounded our boat, with the biggest looking to be around 10 foot in length, if not longer. The amazing pod performed synchronised jumps out of the water and swirled around our boat, with their sonar clicks and noises clearly audible.

We were amazed by their closeness, which could have been quite intimidating but it was clear that they were harmlessly curious of our strange yellow boat.

After several minutes they gradually dissipated and we were left in awe- stricken silence. It was then that the beauty of our surroundings began to sink in, we had been able to see the dolphins so clearly due to the dusky light that continues through the night here in the highlands, coupled with a moon that glowed orange and pink and framed with clouds.

The stretch of coast between the headlands of Rubha Coigeach and the Point of Stoer was spectacular in itself, having several jagged headlands within that provided a dramatic backdrop for our eventful night.

 

The Point of Stoer

Now the sun has risen we can see our next headland across the calm waters as we progress to the ominously named Cape Wrath.

If we continue at this rate we should be there by tonight.

Come on SeaGals!

 


Blog from Royal Navy nurse Laura Thomasson reflecting on Armed Forces Day....
 

June 26, 14.35

The Isle of Skye has left us in awe of its mountainous landscapes and secluded villages tucked away in small coves.

We anchored in one such cove last night while waiting for the tide to push us out under Skye bridge.
Our anchor point sat at the foot of some emerald green mountains, with stone cottages dotting the shore-line.

We seemed to have disturbed some local seals as one seal splashed around in the water near our boat and let out some disgruntled snorts!

However, as the tide turned and we headed towards Skye Bridge the seals appeared to have become attached to us and they followed us for miles until we had nearly cleared the Isle of Skye.

We are currently having a great day, having rowed continuously since 2am and show no signs of slowing down yet.

I've just heard on the radio that it is Armed Forces Day today and this seems a perfect time for people to dig deep and support the Help for Heroes charity.

Our thoughts also go out to the four marines of 40commando who have recently died in Afghanistan.

For every person that dies in Afghanistan there are usually injured personnel that are connected to the scene.

Please recognise their bravery and the medical support that follows.

Rowing around Britain is a huge personal challenge but we are also rowing for them.

To donate to Help for Heroes on our behalf pleae click on the 'DONATE NOW' button, above. Thank you.
 


Blog from Angela via Deb:
Seagals go bunless

June 26 14.25

A sailboat, Sirocco Star, came up and spoke with us. They were super nice. They tried to give us some food, a black bun for energy, his wife's special recipe. We felt bad about having to turn down the buns, as he was so excited about the possibility of sharing them with us. We explained it would be against the rules.

Scirocco Star

Blog from Laura on Go Commando

June 25 15.25

Thank you to everyone who has sent us fantastic messages of support, especially to my cousin Lewis for sending me a lovely e-mail.

We've already won the race against the boys and now we're hoping to set a world record but there's another race we're interested in the race to raise money for Help For Heroes.

As a Royal Navy nurse, I know just how important the money raised for Help For Heroes is to wounded servicemen and women and their families.

We'd love you to help us by making a donation to Help For Heroes. Just click the 'donate' button on the site and you can make a donation straight away.

Laura rowing

BLOG from Bev on Go Commando

June 25 1400

Well, that's Eigg and Rhum gone - now for Skye.

It's been calm but overcast today and not as hot as it is in the south of England today, so it's been very comfortable rowing. We're still rowing for two hours at a time during the day but at night we row for three so the resting pair can get more uninterrupted sleep.

A tourist boat from Mallaig came out to see us today and we were a tourist attraction! Thirty people taking photos of us. I'm hoping one of them will be able to send a picture to the website!

Talking of pictures, I'm dying to get a picture of a beautiful Scottish castle. We saw one a couple of days ago but it was swirled in mist and hard to see.

Bev and the bucket

Captain Kirk’s log
24th June 2100hrs south end of the Sound of Mull
Scotland and its wildlife knocking our socks off.
 

Scotland has taken our breath away.
Epic cliffs and snow-topped mountains plunging into narrow 200ft deep channels.

And the wildlife!....

Just today...harbour porpoises came to greet us as we rowed into the mouth of the Sound of Mull....Seals constantly popped their heads up out of the water. Dropping away again as soon as they see us move for a camera.....

Attached is the best photo yet of a seal, look for a black speck on the left hand side of the photo ha ha...it is a seal, really.

We're convinced it's the same seal following us round from the Isle of Man.

At lunchtime a white-tailed sea eagle perched on a rock face just above us, giving us a great chance to look at him through the binos.

Majestic and massive, this was a sturdy bird, with a two-metre wingspan. Suddenly, he swooped over our heads, talons out to attack something in the water.

He missed whatever he was going for, decelerated in a split second, even seeming to lose control of his steering and tumbled back upwards.

What a great show right in front of the boat where Bev, Laura and I sat enthralled. This was a pretty special sight. Western Scotland is the last place in UK where sea eagles still breed.

At dusk, Bev and I rowed on the mirror-like flat calm of the Sound of Mull. We were joined by a pair of oyster catchers peeping in flirtation at each other as they darted about above us.

And, of course, there's always the clumsy guillemots splashing in and out of the water around us on most days recently.

It’s amazing just how much wildlife we've seen. I never knew Britain had such a bounty....travelling so slowly and reasonably quietly in a row boat is a good way to get close.

Although we're not going that slowly though - averaging 60+miles a day at the mo! Eigg, Muck and Rhum tomorrow



 

BLOG from Bev on Go Commando near the Isle of Mull, reflecting on the land of her fathers...
June 24 17.25
 

Although I was brought up in Gateshead, my father’s family are from John o’Groats and I have lots of relatives in the north of Scotland but I don’t know a great deal about Scotland.

So it’s been especially nice for me to see this wonderful country from the sea. In the mornings the islands and the peak of the mountains are shrouded in mist and the countryside looks magical.

I really must come back and visit the west coast of Scotland when I have more time to explore – especially the whisky islands.

We’d rowed constantly for 80 hours before we had to anchor today to wait until the tide turned to our advantage.

If we can make this sort of progress up the rest of the west coast we might be in time to take advantage of the spring tides in the Pentland Firth between the top of the mainland, near John O’Groats and the island of Orkney, and get a flying start to the last leg of our journey, down the east coast.

We have sent in a couple of new videos from Jura and the Sound of Luing in Argyll and Bute, taken on our Samsung Wave phone.

BLOG from Bev on Go Commando off Stranraer
June 22 13.27
 

Sunday night we headed north from Wales and toward the Isle of Man. Like the Bristol Channel, the currents here are perpendicular to our direction so cause us to zig -zag across but we arrived at roughly the coordinates we intended.

We've now rowed around the island and are heading on to Scotland. Overnight we we're able to continue to row, even against the tide, and make progress. We're now on our way toward Jura and Islay.

The Southerly winds are just starting so we're hoping for good progress in the next few days.

 

BLOG from Laura on Go Commando approaching the Isle of Man
June 22 07.15
 

There have been some tough times during the past 3 weeks at sea. Spending 24 hours a day in cramped confines has made things tense between the crew. We continually rally together and have a laugh to raise our spirits but at times when huge waves have pummelled our boat during the night, the last ounce of humour is drained from us. However, the darkness of night only lasts a few hours and out of the gloom rises some magnificent sunrises that seem to wash away anxieties and bring a fresh outlook to the day.

The breath-taking sunset pictured here was taken on our way to the Isle of White, the morning that the wind direction changed in our favour and we began to finally pick up pace again. With the weather on our side we are more determined than ever to make some good progress in the second half of our journey and make a speedy route home to our loved ones.

Blog from Angela via Deb 22 June
"They must have to carry a lot of water"...Watermaker On Board.

Ocean Rowing boats are very small, especially when you have 4 people and their gear on a boat that is the size of a pairs boat (24 feet long, 6 feet wide - nearly a ton loaded). There is no way that they could carry enough water to sustain four people for 45 days...

Blog from Seagals skipper Belinda Kirk off the Isle on Man

Captain Kirk’s log 21 June 20.00hrs

54* 21.060n 004*49.845w Seagals on the move again!
 

Finally the weather is giving us a break and we've made great progress over the last 36hrs.
We haven't stopped its brilliant!

We're racing to catch the next tidal gate along past the Mull of Galloway, having flown past the beautiful and mysterious Isle of Man, an island I really want to come back to and spend a bit of time!

Today we have seen two seals, bags of weird and wonderful jellyfish and two whales!!!!!! Possibly orcas. What a place! Wish we didn't have to rush past ....

And if you're wondering why we took a wiggly line across the Bristol Channel and on our way last night to the Isle of Man it was because of the east to west tide running across those channels......not because of constant indecision!

We rowed on a constant north bearing and, rather than compensate for the tide every six hours went with the flow from east to west.

We kept going north and the east-west deviation cancelled each other out every 12hrs.

Hence the wiggly line is actually the most efficient line and not womanly indecision!! Ha ha


 

BLOG from Angela Madsen on Go Commando
June 21  14.25
Mystical, magic unicorns and dreams of 80-mile days.
 

Life on Go Commando is good at the moment.

We’re getting on well and I’m really getting to know Laura and Bev, who have the front cabin. They both have a great sense of humour.

After days of frustration sat at anchor in northerly headwinds, the wind has dropped and we can start to row for long periods.

If you look at our track on the interactive map on the website, you might wonder why we appear to be zig-zagging across the Irish Sea.

The answer is that the tides here run from east to west and we’re taking advantage of them, rather than spend any more time at anchor.

And we’re just where we want to be on the western side of the Isle of Man, the perfect position to head for Scotland.

The wind has dropped and it’s so hot in the sun. We normally row two hours on-two hours off during the day and in three-hour shifts at night.

But without the wind to cool us down, we’re thinking about switching to one-hour shifts during the heat of the day so we get a chance of shade in the cabin.

We’re all waiting for the wind to flip direction to a southerly, which will be behind us as we go north to Scotland.

Then it will be back to following winds and seas, mystical, magic unicorns… and dreams of 80-mile days, when we can start to make up for all the time we’ve spent at anchor.

I’m also thinking of my dear Dad, who hasn’t been too well lately, who’s following our every move on the websites…

 

BLOG from skipper Belinda Kirk on Go Commando near Liverpool

Captain Kirk’s log
20th June 15.10: Morale boosters and travelling at six knots towards Isle of Man!
 

Everyone is so excited that the wind has finally dropped enough that we can finally make some progress again.

And there is even news that southerly winds are on their way. Thanks Clemency!

Another massive morale booster was the great coastguard at Holyhead who have been following our progress and kept an eye on us last night as we crossed the busy Holyhead bay.

We lost comms before we could say: ‘Thank you Holyhead Coastguard!!!!!’

PS Radio working again this morning. No worries.
 


BLOG from Bev on board Go Commando
Sunday June 20
The Anchor
 

We're spending a lot more time on anchor than we'd like, partly due to the weather and partly due to being in an area of strong currents

We're developing a love-hate relationship with our anchor, it’s a 15lb plough anchor with 10metres of chain and 150m of rope.

LOVE - our anchor holds and does so well, it’s easy to deploy and stops us losing valuable ground.

HATE - it has to be pulled back in manually, it holds so well that this is exhausting when anchored at greater depths, which recently we often are.

And, of course, after pulling in the anchor we then have to row!

 

Blogs from Belinda Kirk, skipper of Go Commando

Captain Kirk’s log
19th June
Waiting for the wind to change. Angelsey.
 

Yet again we are sat twiddling our thumbs on anchor as the northerly winds grind our progress to a halt.

It is unbearably frustrating. We got going this morning but only made a few hundred metres and had to stop again.

When the headwind is that strong against us we can't move. We get our forecasts from the Seagal's weather gal, Clemency.

Clemency is way more sensible than the rest of us because she's seeing out the row from the comfort of her own home whilst she sends us vital info on the winds and weather.

Clemency is doing an amazing job but every day we hope she' ll have better news.....the end of northerly winds maybe?????

Captain Kirk’s log
17th June: Being blown up
1100hrs 52*20.319n 005*06.045w
 

I was expecting big waves, big ships and big rocks to threaten our safety but I never thought we'd be blown out of the water.

The coast, so far, has been jam packed with firing ranges and most of them seem to be open for business.

Today we had to deviate our route to avoid being blown up in Cardigan Bay.

At 1030 two massive blasts reverberated across the bay - so close we could feel the shock wave.

Luckily I'd already spoken to Aberporth range control and we we'd changed course to get in the safe area. We had been straight on course for the target zone.

Once we'd heard the all clear on channel 13 and cries of "sunk target", we got back on our course. Phew!

The Aberporth range control were very helpful and wished us well on our row.

PS talking of blasts....It’s race director Chris U's birthday today - all the best from the Seagals and hope he has a blast today!

 


Blog from Laura

17.20 Saturday June 19

I write to you sat at anchor once again, bobbing around near the headland of Anglesey. The sun is shining beautifully but the wind is stubbornly blowing head on at 15-20knots.

We attempted to lift anchor and approach Anglesey at midday today, however the wind immediately blew us backwards a quarter of a mile and refused to let us turn in a northerly direction, despite brute force, gritted teeth and various expletives!

So, the hook has been dropped for what feels like the millionth time and we sit impatiently waiting for the winds to die down.

However, there is a rumour that was brought to us on the wind that things should be looking up in the next 12hours! I don't want to say it too loudly but there was mention of light winds for the next few days and even a CHANGE in wind direction to SOUTH WESTERLIES on tuesday. If this is true then there may be a party on Go Commando that night, we'll break open our best rat packs and toast a hot chocolate to the weatherman!

We would cross our fingers in hope of the good news being true, but unfortunately we all have the misfortune of 'claw hand' that prevents us from extending or crossing our fingers, so please keep everything crossed for us!!

Blog from Belinda

12.30 Saturday June 19

On Sat phone as no mobile coverage - fighting against 20knot gusting winds as we force our way round Holy Island (Holyhead peninsula, NW Wales). We are desperate to move on and get to Isle of Man, knowing that the Western Isles and Inner Hebrides will be beautiful scenery before the squalls expected around Cape Wrath! Spirits high, determined as ever, just frustrated at being pushed back by wind all the time!

BLOG from Belinda on board Go Commando on the Welsh coast

17.00 Friday June 18

Still struggling with northerly winds. Slow progress to Isle of Man, it's a crawl. Then decide if up or across to Ireland. Glad to be past GB Row 09 and on about the same timeline, and will be glad to be halfway at some point next week if the weather improves. Come on England 2-0!

BLOG from Laura on board Go Commando in the Irish Sea

13.00 Friday June 18

Dear Mr Weatherman

I remember when I was around seven years old I wrote a letter to the weather-man asking for snow that winter, he very kindly granted my wish and we were blessed with a winter wonderland covering of thick snow. Now, seventeen years later I ask for another weather miracle. After days and days of northerly head winds I beg of you mr weather-man, please can we have some south tail winds? We've had our fair share of north winds and we are clinging on to the hope that our luck has to change soon!

Kind regards from the windswept SeaGals. X X X X

BLOG from Belinda Kirk on board Go Commando in north Wales
SEALS, PUFFINS and BOMBS!
 

16.10 Thursday, June 17

At anchor at the top of Cardigan Bay and we’ll probably stay here for about five hours.

We’re out of mobile phone range and our only means of communication is the satphone, which costs £6 a minute, so conversations have to be short!

The wind has been good for us for the last 36 hours. It’s not in our favour yet but at least it has dropped, though while we’re here at anchor the wind’s starting to get up again and the we’re in big swells.

We’ve plodded our way north today and after yesterday’s excitement at seeing dolphins, we saw seals and puffins today

If you look at out tracker, you’ll see we were detoured around the firing range at Aberporth and we could hear big bombs going off!

We’ll check with our weather expert, Clemency, but it’s most likely we’ll keep heading north for the Isle of Man.

It’ll take us 24 hours to cross to Ireland and in the present weather conditions we can’t see any benefit in it. So look out, Isle of Man, the Seagals are on their way!

Look out for more blogs and videos when we’re back in mobile range…


BLOG from Go Commando skipper Belinda Kirk

Captain Kirk’s log 15th June: Dolphin day 1900 hrs 51* 32. 686n 05*15.401w
 

Currently anchored south of Milford Haven waiting for tide to change in two hrs time so we can proceed to St David head then across Cardigan Bay.

Changed plan to cross to Ireland because of the continued north easterlies....which, are painfully slowing us down...We'll be better protected in Wales, so should be faster anyway we've made it to Wales this morning!

Making a zig-zag path across the Bristol Channel due to the ferocious east-west currents. Made better progress because the head winds dropped a little to c 10knots the best thing today though has been the wildlife. It’s officially 'dolphin day' on Go Commando.

We have been escorted by a pod of 7-8 dolphins on and off all day, circling the boat, surfing the waves around us and carrying out mini synchronized swimming displays. It has been easy rowing with the entertainment and what an honour.

Go Commando lies very low in the water so the dolphins have been close enough to hear their clicks and whistles and see the blues of their eyes. A magical experience that makes the suffering worth it!

We also saw a seal and another basking shark fin at a distance-at least we got the dolphins on film...

We're all disappointed the boys quit. They must be gutted after the commitment just to get to the start line and what an adventure they'll be missing out on.

We feel really bad for them but also we're missing them as our competition, we were enjoying our game of cat and mouse. And I was looking forward to a beer after the race to compare notes.

Sad to see them go. I was concerned their dropping out might dent morale but thankfully the Seagals are more committed than ever to make it round.

We knew this would be really difficult and that getting round is by no means guaranteed but we're ready to slog it out back to Tower Bridge...we just hope the weather comes round a little to help us.

 

 

Life on the Boat in Bad Weather
By Deb for Angela June 16, 10.10

The Seagals have had lots of bad weather for about the last week.

They have spent more time on anchor than they would have liked.

The boat is 24-foot long, and about six-foot wide. It is the same size as RowofLife, which is a pair’s boat that Angela used to row the big oceans.

Go Commando was actually made with slightly bigger cabins to accommodate four rowers.

The row around Great Britain is about half as long as each of the rows across the Atlantic and Indian Oceans.

It would be difficult to put enough food and supplies on the boat for a longer row. There is not enough room in the cabins for both rowers to be inside at the same time.

When the Seagals are on anchor, they still change watches every two hours (three hours at night) and the people that would be rowing are out on the deck in the weather.

Angela says in a text message, “On deck on anchor in piss-down rain. Cold. Just try and stay warm. During day we do chores, fix things, clean things, tidy up the boat and ourselves.”

A couple of nights ago she said in a text, “Storm last night big waves crashing over the deck. Nearly rolled over. Still on anchor waiting for change in weather. It is miserable here.”

The weather sometimes makes it difficult to sleep. Angela texts, with the “turbulent waters” it is “like trying to sleep on a bucking horse.”



BLOG from Bev who reveals more about that close shave with a car transporter

June 14 23.20

After our night on anchor riding out the storm we we're all looking forward
to making some headway.

After checking weather reports and tidal charts we decided that this evening we would cross the Bristol Channel.

The strong tides, even more so today as they're spring tides, means that we'll have to zigzag across but we've set off at a time which we hopes mean the tide will help push us out to our next destination.

I've just finished a two-hour shift in which Angela and I had to cross a shipping channel. As luck would have it just as we entered the area we spotted a ship on the horizon, the Grimaldi Lines Grande Portogallo.

It travelled much quicker than we expected to the extent that we put on a five-minute sprint to make sure we were clear.

Closer than comfortable (about 500ft) but safely out of the way and
now very much ready for my break and nap after that!


BLOG from Angela Madsen on Go Commando
Chicken on the Sea
Deb blogging for Angela
June 14, 2010
 

Apparently, waves and winds are not enough excitement for Angela and Beverley. They were rowing against the wind today when they came upon a shipping lane. They looked Right for the UK fans and then Left for the US fans, seeing no big ships started across the lane. Rowing, Rowing, Rowing….Holy crap! There is a giant ferryboat “with 500 cars on it” coming at them very fast. Row, Row, Row, Row…..yell at the cabin asking them to come out and take pictures. (I am proud they did not stop rowing to get the shot). They were unable to wake anyone so we will all just have to picture in our minds- a big ship full of cars, moving "30 knots" toward our Seagals’ tiny little rowing boat. Well they made it (I am sure you figured that out, since she was able to call and tell me). However, my new rule….No more playing chicken with other boats on the sea.
 

 

Interview with John Mollison after Orca withdrew from the Virgin GB Row race:
 

14 June
After three days at anchor in the open sea near Wolf Rock, nine miles from Land’s End, three members of Orca’s crew – skipper Olly Hicks, Jack Jones and Dave Rowe - decided to leave the race.

The trio were convinced the world record time of 26 days and 21 hours could not be matched and with north winds predicted until at least Wednesday, they faced the prospect of spending another four days at anchor.

The three men were lifted off the boat – video is available on our YouTube channel – but Orca’s owner John Mollison decided to stay onboard and continue the race alone.

He says: “I was hugely disappointed that the others had decided not to carry on. This race isn’t about world records it’s an achievement just to complete it.

“It’s such a tough race and the weather is such an important factor that mother nature will decide if you achieve a world record.

“I loved every minute of the race and I wanted to continue. I had a six-hour weather window when the wind would drop and I could get into the lee of Land’s End to shelter from the strong northerlies, possibly up to force seven, that were expected late Sunday and on Monday.

“I woke at 3am on Sunday and I started work on the anchor. Twice I pulled in 700 metres of rope and chain, which just about did me in but the anchor would not free itself from the seabed.

“If I was to carry on racing alone I’d need the anchor, so I was reluctant to cut the rope.

“The RNLI were on exercise in the area and, after four hours of trying to get the anchor free, I asked for their help. In the end we had to cut the line, leaving the anchor and 200 metres of cable and chain on the seabed.

“I took their offer of a tow towards Land’s End. By then the race was over but I intended to row to Penzance.

“Orca was designed to cross the Atlantic with the assistance of trade winds and the tide. Against headwinds, she’s not the easiest boat but with a tail wind on Sunday afternoon, I was able to row myself at five knots at times, towards Newlyn.

“But as I turned the corner at Mousehole, she was hit by headwinds again and I took a tow. Orca is now moored in the bay off Penzance.

“I’m sorry to be leaving the Virgin GB Row. I have rowed the north Atlantic and taken part in ultra expeditions all over the world and they all pale into insignificance. For me, this is possibly the toughest endurance race there is."

 

Interview with Olly Hicks, skipper of the Misfits on quitting the race:
 

June 14
Orca’s skipper Olly Hicks, 28, has successfully rowed solo across the north Atlantic and became the first person to row from Tasmania to New Zealand but he found rowing around Britain’s coast to be the toughest challenge yet.

He says: “I’m disappointed to be out of the race and I enjoyed it. It was good. I would like to have carried on but I’m not sad I’m no longer out there.

“Our team, the Misfits, hadn’t met each other until four days before the start of the race and after less than a fortnight two of the guys wanted to get off so it was a choice of John and I carrying on, on our own, but I didn’t think that was a viable option.

“I’d gambled on it taking 30 days to complete the row around Britain but by the time we reached Land’s End our attempt at the world record of 26 days had waned.

“We’d had a discussion at Torquay about whether we carry on or not and everyone was happy to continue.

“But we missed the shelter of Land’s End by about an hour and then the north wind kicked in and we drifted aimlessly in and out of the shipping lanes on a sea anchor.

“We ended up anchoring off Wolf Rock lighthouse on Friday. The record was very much waning by that time and then I got the forecast, which showed the prospect of staying there until at least Wednesday before the wind changed in our favour.

“That would have given us only 14 days to get round in the 30 day time frame we’d given ourselves off work and so we decided this was probably the best place to give up our attempt.

“I would do it again definitely. If you set out to do the race as a full-on project, as the girls have, I think the record is easily achievable.

“The girls were so fast at one stage, near Margate, we were in front and rowing as hard as we could and they came flying past us. I wish them all the best and God speed.”
 

 Ultra marathon runner, Jack Jones, only began rowing a few months ago after signing up for the Virgin GB Row race. Here he explains how the decision was taken to quit the world’s toughest rowing race.

 

He says: “We weren’t moving and it seemed like the record had slipped out of our grasp. Olly, Dave and myself only had to the end of June off so we took the decision that we were better off getting off the boat.

“The race has been great fun and it’s very disappointing that we weren’t able to break the record

“If we’d come round Land’s End and been met by south-westerlies we’d have really cracked on then but with the north wind in our face and the forecast saying it was going to be like that for ages we decided not to go on.

“It’s not as if there was a conflict of personalities or anything, we really have got on like a house on fire.

“There were so many great bits, I loved it all. The hardest part was the start going down the Thames because we were working three hours on and one off because we had to have a third person steering at that point because we had to be careful.

“The best bits? The scenery and the banter between us.”

Dave Rowe, 49, teacher, army instructor and wild boar farmer had never rowed at sea before but had twice been let down for crossing the Atlantic and was keen to try rowing around Great Britain.

Here’s his verdict on taking part in Virgin GB Row – the toughest rowing race ever:

He said “A month ago we didn’t know each other. Our sea trails were an hour and a half in Gosport, so were getting to know each during the first few days of the race.

“It took us two or three days to settle and when we got it together we did tremendously we flew across from Torquay to Land’s End. I know we were behind the record but we felt as though, ‘this is it, we’re off’.

“We had no doubts in our mind whatsoever that if the weather was with us we were going to get the record.

“When we got stuck at Land’s End we realised we were half way to the record time but only a quarter of the way round the course.

“We realised that the record attempt wasn’t on and there was no point in going on. If we’d sat there for four more days the record wouldn’t have been there.

“Me and Jack (Jones) had the long thin coffin in the bow as our accommodation and we had a good laugh and kept each other going.

“The worst bit of the race is when you are under anchor. I come from a tradition of when you race you race and I was very frustrated when we were forced to put the anchor down. I can understand why when the tide is against you but it is so frustrating to just sit there waiting during a race.

“The best was the day when we did 28 nautical miles and the girls’ team only did four. I knew we could do it if we just pushed along.

“I don’t regret taking part. I don’t regret doing anything I’ve ever done. It’s one of life’s experiences. It gives you more psychological strength.

“I can say ‘I did it’, as opposed to ‘I wish I’d done it’ – there’s a big difference.”

 

BLOG from Belinda Kirk, Seagals skipper on Go Commando 

16.35 hrs Sunday 13 June

In a phone conversation with Virgin GB Row’s race director, Chris Usborne, Belinda revealed that the Seagals were involved in a second race…against time.

Rowing at an incredible speed of almost five miles an hour, the Seagals are off the spectacular Hartland Peninsula in north Devon but they have no time to appreciate the view.

They are racing ahead of an incoming storm and hoping to reach the River Torridge near Bideford, where they can anchor and shelter from the strong northerly winds that are forecast for tonight and tomorrow.

Belinda told Chris: “If we don’t make it, we’ll anchor out at sea to avoid any danger of being washed ashore but we expect it will be a bumpy night!”

The Seagals also won't be able to watch their appearance on BBC 1 tonight on Countryfile 7.30pm. You can view it on BBC iPlayer here - the item starts 38 minutes in.

Belinda also sent this photo, especially for her mum.

As skipper and camera expert, 
Belinda takes many of the on-board photos from the all-girl crew, so her mum has very few shots of Bel rowing…so we’re happy to oblige!

 

BLOG from Bev of the Seagals on Go Commando

03.50hrs Sunday 13 June

The calm before the storm. I've just finished my 3hr night time shift and it was a good row. The first time in quite a while that we didn't have to fight the waves, the sea is relatively still and the breeze is light. Its just the pick me up we all need after a very tough week, a reminder of how the rows can be, and a chance to make some headway.

Unfortunately we know that we have to find some good shelter soon so that we can sit out the worst of the storm, but hopefully after that we'll get some more good rows.

Capt Kirk's log 12th June: Exhausted in Newquay
1800hrs @ 50*22.504n 005*13.013

Spent last night and this afternoon fighting those darned northerly winds again. We knew it would be hard but its harder - demoralizing and energy sapping. I suppose at least the sun is shining and we've got the gorgeous cornish coast to look at.... Tonight we need to make the decision of whether to head north now away from Cornwall and break out to sea and to south Wales or to find refuge and sit out the impending storm due Sunday night. Everyone is tired so waiting it out is an option but there is a calm before the storm - a weather window of 12/14 hrs that could get us to Milford Haven - missing it will cost us days. Right, back to the oars...

BLOG from Bev of the Seagals on Go Commando

14.47hrs Saturday 12 June

The winds have been against us now for a week, though they're dying down today we hear that by Monday they'll be stronger again. Rowing into the wind is exhausting, making every stroke heavier and more difficult to control.

A month ago, when I joined the Seagals, I asked Angela what rowing on the sea was like as I'd never done it before. "Have you ever tried rowing while surfing on a mechanical bull?" she asked. I didn't quite understand but I do now, it's like riding a rickety roller coaster backwards so you don't know what's coming next. Sometimes it's an absolute blast; sometimes you just want it to stop. If someone could replicate this as a ride I think it would sell.

BLOG from Belinda Kirk skipper of the Seagals on Go Commando
 

Captain Kirk's log 11th June 2100hrs
50*14.071n 005*24.605w

Currently sat in beautiful St Ives bay with the sun setting over the sea. So idyllic. This has been one of the best days and we were expecting it to be one of the worst.

It’s amazing how things can change so rapidly. Having thought we were stranded at Land’s End for maybe another two days suddenly a window in the weather opened up this morning and we grabbed it. 36 hrs off the oars meant the crew were rested and were ready to go!

After we negotiated Longships and Brisons rocks at Land’s End we rocketed along the stunning Cornish coastline. The headwind was still making life difficult for us but it was manageable and with the tide we got up to 4 knots!

The sun was shining and the coast so stunning that fighting the 15ft waves rodeo style was a total pleasure. I absolutely love rodeo riding those waves!

St Ives is such a special place. It’s such a perfect chocolate box bay you almost can't believe it’s real. Artists flock here to soak up the views and the special 'St Ives light'. We spotted the St Ives Tate gallery overlooking the bay.

We're now on anchor waiting for the tide to change back in our favour. We'll leave at midnight and row til 6/7am hopefully ending up at Padstow for tea and breakfast and a final look at the weather so we can finalize our route to South Wales...

Nb we are finding our niches on the boat. Everyone is indispensable. I'm absolutely loving navigating and planning the routes using the tides and weather. Bev and Laura take it turn as the 2ic navigator discussing our route and improving on it.

Angela is the powerhouse on the oars and she's Mrs Fix it. She's amazing and can pull apart and put back together everything on the boat. Yesterday she sorted the electrics, today the watermaker.

Laura continues to hope for strange medical ailments she can 'have a go at' and Bev is keeping us all sensible and on the straight and narrow.

 


Mini blog from Angela Madsen on Go Commando nr St Ives

June 11 21.10

The watermaker intake valve is broken and will not open. Mounts directly to hull of boat and do not have spare. Will just have to use hose over side. Not convieniant but still makes water. It is tough going out here. Thanks for all your support.

Angela
 

Second half of earlier blog from Belinda Kirk on Go Commando
 
Sent  June 11 20.56

Second part of yesterday’s blog

The Seagals faced their biggest waves yet and were fighting a losing battle, going backwards.

Angela did a sterling job with the sea anchor but it just wouldn't deploy in the conditions. By chance I had noticed a reef at 50m just to the north of us. We were all amazed that when me and Angela dropped 100+ metres of anchor rope and chain it actually held.

We held up for hours in the middle of Lyme Bay 25miles offshore. That unexpected reef saved us hours in being pushed backwards and it meant we all had a rest and a wash while bobbing about on the massive rollers.

I told the gals that I had planned the route especially so we could anchor on that reef once the tide turned. Of course they didn't believe me for a moment


Blog from Olly Hicks, skipper of the Misfits aboard Orca.

14.00 June 11
 

After a gruelling 36 hours and with brute force alone we managed to break out of the tidal grip of of Lyme Bay, taking 3 hours to cross the 3 mile wide bay between Torquay and Brixham.

We then had stunning scenery of limestone cliffs and wheeling seabirds as we manoeuvred along the shore between the rocks past Dartmouth and out past Start Point and back into the channel.

We were most disoriented by Start Point light as it shone eerily through the sea mist over the calm black sea. We then made our course straight for the Lizard with no breaks to try and catch the girls. We had a little help from a light SE wind.

This morning having struggled round the Lizard peninsula we made a dash for it then only 2 miles short of its shelter a strong northerly wind blew us out to sea. Unable to counter this we deployed the sea anchor to reduce our drift.

I now write this as we drift around the western approaches with huge ships plying all around. We are almost at Wolf Rock lighthouse and Lands End is fading into the distance where we rather enviously know the girls are tucked into a snug cove whilst we are tossed about and have to maintain a constant watch on deck to avoid being squashed by one of these steely ships. Hopefully this wind will abate soon and we can crack on before cabin fever sets it!

Blog from Olly Hicks, skipper of the Misfits aboard Orca.

22.27 June 10
 

Now team Misfits has finished its training session and the crew has had a little bonding time and a mini break in Torquay, we have decided to start racing and see if we can’t do this by chasing down the girls’ lead.

No clever tactics here, just blood sweat tears and less sleep.

Been pushing hard last 24 hours to get out of Lyme Bay and onto Lands End. Making reasonable progress to this end.

Many ships and fishing boats around and some low-level fighter jets flying over us, which was cool.

Rowing three hours on and off in day and two on and off at night.

Spoke with the army doctors who are up near Cape Wrath and had just caught a pollock for lunch. They said they’ve only been getting around three hours sleep each night!
Hopefully Lands End tomorrow…
Olly

BLOG from BELINDA KIRK on Go Commando

12.45 June 10 
 Lat/ Long 50 03.133N/05 42.116W

We rowed out around Land’s End but it was crazy, dangerous. So we rowed back around the headland to anchor out of the weather.

We’re currently anchored in a cove, approx 1 mile south of Land's End, and we’re close enough to the shore that you can see our little yellow and green boat from the beach.

If you’re in the area come along and give us a cheery wave. We expect to be here for at least a day! 
 

 Life Onboard Go Commando:the good the bad and the ugly
 

(see pictures below)
The good- usually eating two chocolate bars,loads of nuts, energy bars and biscuits would be bad news but onboard Go Commando, us ladies can eat as much as we want!

In fact we need to in order to keep going 24/7. The photo shows one of our snack bags per person per day- this on top of three meals.

The bad - the bathroom facilities -the photo of the bucket.

The ugly- we're getting battered - the photo of my leg and blistered hand. The friction and sea water make for nasty blisters. Other members of the crew are suffering from bottom blisters, seasickness and the agony of RSI in their hands

 

 Skipper's log from Belinda:
 9th June Captain Kirk's log: Racing to Land’s End
0730hrs 49*58.419n 004* 52.126w approaching the Lizard Peninsula, finally!
 

Clemency's weather report has suddenly ramped up the urgency on our boat. There is some bad weather coming our way, including crucially some strong northerly winds.

It will be almost impossible for us to even attempt Land’s End - one of the most formidable stretches of water around the UK- if there are head winds stronger than we can row.

This would mean sitting it out and waiting for a weather window - which could be days and could cost us our comfortable lead. It will all come down to weather tomorrow morning. . . .

To add to this our navigational map system -a chart plotter- has stopped working all together now making nav even harder. The water maker is also having a problem....
 

The Good
The Bad
...and the Ugly
2200hrs we're just coming to anchor by Land’s End.
 

A beautiful sunset and an eerie flat calm - definitely the calm before the storm. Just gotta hope the storm comes later in the day tomorrow.


Other notes:

The day started well again. Me and Bev were on dawn shift and, as the sun rose, we realised the lights of ships during the night were battleships on exercise. Couple came to say hello. Laura saw a puffin!

 

8th June Captain Kirk's log: Rowing slowly uphill and chasing sharks

12.15hrs 50* 06.570n 004*19.827w

Light south-westerly, heading WSW. From Start Point to Lizard this morning has been slow going, averaging less than 2knots continually into a head wind.

In fact, the last few days have been like rowing slowly uphill. The south-westerly head winds are refusing to budge. We need these southerly winds to get round Land’s End not now!

Moving so slowly does have some advantages though we can enjoy the view. We’ve seen shearwater weaving about just above the waves and gannets flying along beside the boat.

Gannets are black and white with a shock of blonde plumage on their heads and what looks like a smear of blue eye shadow /they look like they got stuck in the 80s - a bit Duran Duran/.

The best thing we've seen is a shark - Angela spotted a dorsal fin off the starboard side. We could see the fin and a great big silhouette. There was a shark bigger than our boat just metres away Amazing!! It was a basking shark, must have been 30ft long.

Basking sharks come to the Cornish coast in summer to stooge around the shallow waters and Hoover up plankton, they don't bother people. Wish I' d been able to get a closer look.

2100hrs 50*02.201n 004*28.209w finally tide turned and headwind dropped a little onto Lizard peninsula. Hope to make it during the night




BLOG from Laura on Go Commando
June 9 16.50
 

Crossing from Start Point on Monday night our little boat was so swamped by huge seas that we were sitting waist deep in cold seawater still rowing like mad.

The seawater got into the electrics and so we were glad of the opportunity to anchor up in Mounts Bay to check it out. Angela was brilliant and in no time she’d found the fault and repaired it.

The batteries are charging back up and we’re just running the water maker at the moment to make sure it’s working properly.

We are now rowing as fast as we can to Land’s End we’re about two hours away and hoping to get there before the tide turns against us and we’ll have to anchor for the night and wait until the morning to go round the corner.

 

Tweet from Catherine Stephenson: flowermonkey: I wish both teams a safe night. :)x

 

BLOG from Belinda Kirk skipper of Go Commando
 
Dictated: 11.30 Wednesday June 09

Hurrah, at last we can see the Lizard! It’s been a hard two days rowing, which saw the boat swamped two nights ago in big seas.

After passing the Lizard, we will anchor up to find out what’s wrong with the electrics, which we assume were affected when Go Commando was swamped on Monday night.

We are down to our reserve battery. We turned off everything electrical to save on power – except our safety equipment. We haven’t had to do that before and things were beeping at us and we had no comms.

We need to get the electricity working again to power the chart plotter and keep the water maker working. We’ll stop for about two hours to carry out repairs and then hopefully make our way to Land’s End by evening.
 



BLOG from Laura Thomasson of the Seagals on Go Commando
 

Sent: Tuesday, June 08, 8:25 AM
Subject: Big waves!
 

Saturday and Sunday were emotional! Big waves and a strong south-westerly wind pummelled our boat and then to cap it off Sunday brought with it torrential rain.

During daylight hours we just about managed to steer our course against the wind.

However, tired from battling against the waves we found it difficult to keep our course during the night. Darkness surrounded us and the boat shifted and rolled as if we were in a simulator, with people throwing buckets of water at us for good measure!

Unfortunately, this was no simulator and the reality of the situation forced us to clip down to the boat, life jackets on and personal locator beacons close to hand.

As the wind picked up force on Sunday night we found ourselves with waves crashing over the boat and setting off the emergency beacon.

This was a sure sign that we needed to find a safe place to anchor, resultantly we anchored off the shore from Plymouth and waited until first light, when everything appears calmer and set off towards Lizard point.

During our eventful few days we had no phone contact and would like to apologise for the special occasions that we have missed;

· Congratulations Kelly and Gavin Brechany on the birth of your beautiful daughter Ava May.xxx

· Happy Birthday Martin love from of all of the SeaGals and especially from your wife Beverley.xxx




BLOG from Dave on Orca 16.25

 It’s lashing down with rain in Lyme Bay and I’m rowing again in five minutes but after wasting a day at Portland Bill we’re just glad to be plugging away again.

I’m in my cabin at the front of the boat. You can see from the picture I’ve posted just how small and claustrophobic it is. There’s not a lot of room and no way to stand up inside the cabin. Sometimes it’s a relief to be back up on deck and rowing again.

I’m tired but we’re in good spirits and determined to slowly claw back the miles we’ve lost to the girls on the way to Land’s End, which will be a real milestone for us.

If you’re reading this, don’t forget to make a donation to our team for Help for Heroes. We want to be ahead in the race for charity donations as well.

 

Dave tries to get some sleep in the cabin of Orca
 

 



Olly's BLOG in full from Orca

Date: Mon, 7 Jun 2010 10:45:45 +0000
 

It's been an eventful week onboard Orca for the Misfits. Learning about the capabilities and limitations of the boat. After a tough start to get out of the Thames and constantly working hard to keep pace with the girls we made up some ground on the south coast with a good tail wind. Unfortunately at Portland Bill we had to anchor up due to too strong headwinds. So we lost 24 hrs and have just got moving again making reasonable progress to the west to try and get to Land’s End by tomorrow night to keep up with the record pace. We really need tail winds to make decent speed with Orca. This is proving something of a handicap thus far - hoping for more tail winds soonest!

All well onboard and spirits good, largely dictated by our ability to make progress and the position of the girls! Jack and I took a swim yesterday to untangle the sea anchor, which provided amusement for the team. Now back to a shift pattern of 3hrs on 3 hrs off..... Hard old work.
Olly
 

BLOG from Olly Hicks, Misfits skipper on Orca 10.41

 It’s been an eventful week onboard Orca for the Misfits. Learning about the capabilities and limitations of the boat. Tough start….more to follow
 

BLOG from Jack on Orca 09.51

On the move at last, averaging 1 knot!
 


BLOG from Belinda on Go Commando: 08.39 June 7
 

Yesterday’s blog: The never-ending Lyme Bay: Slow progress, going backwards, anchoring at sea and dolphins.

We knew that picking our moment to come round Portland bill and crossing Lyme Bay was going to be difficult but the last 36hrs from Portland Bill, headed south west to Start Point, have been our hardest yet.

We hit the morale doldrums a few miles off Portland Bill where the water was flat like a millpond but the current seemed to be neverendingly against us. A hot and tortuously slow progress.

For a moment mood was lifted by the brief visit of dolphins. They gave us a tantalizing minute or so then disappeared. We obviously weren't going fast enough for them to play in our bow wave.

I really hope to see more British wildlife, we have so much in our waters. Even the seagulls have been welcome visitors. They gather round our boat sometimes, maybe hoping we're a fishing boat and to snag a snack. Love the way they fly low over the rolling waves and perfectly skim them as they rise and fall. It’s amazing they don't mis-time it and end up taking a swim.

Anyway eventually the tide came back in our favour and you'd have thought we'd be cooking on gas but the winds were due to come round. We moved from an other worldly millpond, where the water was so flat you could see the sky reflected like a mirror, to blustery winds and waves of Lyme Bay. Now we had the tide our way but the winds had moved round to south-westerly The Seagals had big waves out at sea.

Progress update: coming to Start Point!
 


BLOG from Bev on Go Commando
 08.33 Monday June 7

It’s been a tough 36 hours, and losing phone and internet contact makes that harder. That said looking back, though that stretch was tougher can now see we did a good job.

Sitting on anchor may sound easy but you're always thinking about the progress you're not making rather than the effort you're saving.

Back out of the big waves and in sight of land again - everything feels calmer, now onto the final stretch of the south coast.

 
BLOG from Jack on board Orca

14.36 Sunday June 6

A day of frustration and drama aboard Orca. We've been at anchor for 14 hours about three miles off Portland Bill. We can see clearly see the lighthouse.

With a strong wind blowing straight into us, we put out both a small drogue sea anchor and a large parachute anchor to try and hold our position.

But we could not get the parachute anchor back in. I put on a survival suit, with a safety line tied around me and jumped in. I swam for about 200 metres but 10 metres from the para anchor, I could get no closer and eventually the guys dragged me back on board before I drowned!

Later, Olly went for a swim and managed to get hold of the anchor line. He pulled himself along it to the parachute, managed to deflate the chute and we retrieved it.

We're now being held by just the drogue anchor. If that rips out we will be washed onto the shore.

Waiting for the tide to turn in a couple of hours and with a bit of luck the wind will drop - otherwise we could be anchored here for a lot longer.

The generator has been going and we are up to full power - we have lots of video footage, which we�ll try to send soon.

12.18 Sunday June 6

Been stuck in the same place for last 12 hours with both para and sea anchor deployed. Can�t get one up as other is counter balancing the other. I've just swam out to para anchor to bring it in. No such luck.

19.27 Saturday June 5

The pigeon has deserted us! He left about an hour ago heading for land after he heard the weather report. We are about 7nm from Portland.

17.50 Saturday June 5

Our pigeon landed about midday and has stayed with us setting up nest in Olly's oilskin jacket. John showed his softer side by feeding him water and brown biscuits, which he devoured (must have been starving to eat those things!) amazing what some company, regardless of what it is, does for morale.

Misfits new crew member
The Misfits new crew member - photo taken with the Samsung Wave

5th June. Captain Kirk's log aboard Go Commando, aka HMS Seagal

1050hrs 50*32.663n 2*07.840w light onshore winds 3 knots from St Albans ledge to Portland Bill.

Need to make as much ground as possible now as the tide will start to turn against us soon and will be hard going by 1400hrs. It's neap tides so won't be too bad, hopefully, plus we have to cut across the big bays or take the really long route, so we'll knuckle under and go for it . Will at least make this evening - 1700hrs onwards - crossing easy going.

 

0650hrs 50* 38.507n 1*44.944w light south-westerly, fine. Left our anchor point inside the Solent. Positioned so as to be ready to take the tide at 0345hrs. Swept out at 3 then building to 4 knots past the Needles. Headed into deep water in a direct line to Anvil Point, picking up even more speed in the strengthening tide. Sad to say goodbye to our training ground, the Royal Signals guys Windy and MJ, Nathan and the old wise sea dog Malcolm. Without their brilliant training and advice we wouldn't have gotten to the start line, let alone navigating double tide gates in the Solent taking back the lead on the boys. . . Need to buy those guys at lot of beer at Tower Bridge.

Blog from JACK on Orca

20.30 Friday June 4

We are currently off St Catharine’s Point, near Ventnor, Isle of Wight, making good speed before the tide turns. Then we will anchor for six hours while the tide is against us.

 

Meal break on board Orca
Mealtime for the boys on board Orca - shot with the Samsung Wave

We’ve learned that there’s little point battling against the tide. John and Dave rowed against the tide for one and a half hours and it was a waste of energy.

We are quite far out to sea and at about 2pm we dropped the anchor for two hours off Selsey Bill and had our first meal together as a four. We had a good chat and it was a real morale booster.

We had expected a force 3-4 easterly today but the wind didn’t come. Even so, we managed to reach five or six knots. We plan to stay as far out to sea as we can. You can follow our progress on the tracker map.



22.00 Thursday June 3

 

From JACK of the Misfits

Great to have the wind at our backs. Even with the tide against us we were making nearly five knots at times - that's around seven miles an hour. In a two-hour stint with Olly we managed to cover 13.5knots with the tide - that's 6.5 knots which is over nine miles an hour!

22.00 Thursday June 3

From LAURA of Seagals

We arrived at Dungeness to find some familiar faces waving at us out to sea. My boyfriend Ben, Vick and uncle Tony Preston were showing support for the Seagals from the power station where they both work.

Following Dungeness we then headed out to Hastings but we were stopped by the range patrol who directed us to follow the line of the beach so that we would pass the rifle ranges as quickly as possible. However, they wanted us to clear the area in 1hour.

Offshore winds and rolling waves made it a difficult passage, although there's nothing quite like the threat of gunfire to make you row faster!

15.00 Thursday June 3

From DAVE ROWE on Orca

I've got blisters and a sore back but I'm enjoying it and we're still all cracking jokes.

The last two nights at sea have been a bit of an eye opener. Rowing hard against the tide and going nowhere was difficult. In the end we put the anchor out off the white cliffs until the tide turned with us.

13.59 Thursday June 3

From BELINDA of the SEAGALS

Made good progress down the east coast from Margate to Dover overnight. Navigated through the Goodwin Sands and Pegwell Bay, an area notorious for shipwrecks. This time we didn't run aground!

We arrived at Dover in high spirits but also very aware that crossing the busy harbour was not going to be easy. Definitely one of the areas we had been worried about.

As we approached Dover the tide had started to change against us so we were working twice as hard and were only making half the speed. I decided to wait it out on anchor until the tide was in our favour again. Didn't want to take any chances with the massive cross channel ferries that come at speed in and out of the harbour. They're like floating mountains, but mountains that can move at 40mph.

So, rather than play chicken with them, we held up for two hours and I had a nice kip. With the dawn light turning the white cliffs a gorgeous shade of pink, we crossed the harbour mouth and dodged the ferries and a cruise liner that was the size of a small country. Phew!

The rest of today has been easy rowing after that, well so far any way.

We had a chance to take in the scenery. The beach just west of the harbour is where all the crazy/brave channel swimmers leave from. There is one channel swimmer Alison Streeter who is crazy/brave enough to have swum it 30+ times!! How brilliant/mad.

Next we passed Shakespeare cliff where a new bit of coastline has been added, all the mud dug out for the channel tunnel has been put here in what looks like a new shelf of land.

Now onto the weird and wonderful moonscape of Dungeness!

From Ollie , Misfits Skipper
10:13hrs Thursday 03/06/2010

Quite cold during the night. Jack and John are rowing now. Our hands are blistering up as we get used to rowing. We've now switched our shifts from three hours on and one off to two hours on two hours off. An extra hour's rest. Bliss. Crossing Folkstone Bay about two miles from the coast. Can see Dungeness power station in the distance.

Jack's got lots of video to send but the files are too big! Lots of stills taken of the cliffs at Dover.

From Belinda, Seagals Skipper
Wednesday 02/06/2010 13:56hrs

All good on HMS Seagals! We were slightly navigationally challenged this morning so lost two hours sitting on a sandbank but used the time for some rest, kit check and sorting out a system to pass across nav when changing shifts! Ha! ha! Now racing to Margate to catch a tide south late this afternoon. We need to put a shift on!

Tuesday 01/06/2010 22:03hrs

An emotional exhausting and exciting day. 17hrs ago we were leaving our hotel, now we're bobbing about at the mouth of the Thames. Everything about today was extraordinary, from the fun of GMTV at 0630 to the sublime experience of meeting Sir Richard. The exhausting amount of posing for photos topped off by near disaster for the boat...a hole in the freeboard caused by the stanchion being ripped off when a big passenger ferry went past our moorings at HMS Belfast. And that was all before we'd even started...what a relief to be finally rowing. phew. It's incredibly calm and peaceful out here. Just watched two cormorants diving for fish and let London slowly drift out of sight....

Previous Seagals posts »

 

 


 
Seagals in East London
The Seagals passing Greenwich 01-06-2010

06.30 Thursday July 15
UPDATE


Still anchored just north of Spurn Point near the mouth of the River Humber, the Haigh Lyon Seagals are penned in by strong head winds.

The southerly wind is too strong to row against at the moment and is forecast to get even stronger in the next 24 hours.

It is nearly 44 days since the all-female crew set out in Go Commando to become the first women to row around the British mainland.

They were due back in London at the beginning of next week but their return is now in the lap of the weather.

 

21.00 Wednesday July 14
UPDATE
 

Anchored just north of Spurn Point, the Seagals are waiting to row across the River Humber before making their way down the Lincolnshire coast, avoiding sandbanks.

With spring tides and south-east head winds they have made just eight miles in the last 12 hours.

 

14.30 Wednesday July 14
UPDATE
 


Anchored for the last few hours, the Haigh Lyon Seagals are waiting for the spring tide to turn in their favour before attempting to cross the River Humber.

Latest weather forecasts predict the wind will increase in strength from the south east from tomorrow lunchtime and into Friday, which will slow down their final run for home.

In a brief call on the satphone from Go Commando, skipper Belinda Kirk revealed that because the weather is closing in they have decided not to cut directly across from the Humber to north Norfolk.

Instead, they will hug the Lincolnshire coast, hopefully avoiding treacherous sandbanks.

Belinda said: “If we go too far out to sea we risk being forced to anchor in among oil platforms that will put us at risk of being rundown by shipping. It’s better to take a bit longer and avoid the danger of being trapped out there.

“Even so, we’ll get to Norfolk as quickly as we can.”

 

10.20 Wednesday July 14
LATEST
 


Angela Madsen is helping the Seagals to row home – despite having a broken hand.

Former US Marine Angela tells in her blog today how she broke the index finger on her left hand firing a white flare to avoid a collision with a ship in the night near Scarborough.

Her rowing partner, Royal Navy nurse Laura Thomasson has patched up Angela’s hand (picture, below).

 

Angela's broken hand

But, despite her injury, Angela is continuing to row in Go Commando – by strapping her hand to the oar, so she doesn’t have to grip the handle.

The Seagals now have less than 300 miles left to row to the finish of their incredible journey around Britain in the Virgin GB Row Challenge.

 

 

Latest messages from wellwishers:

Angela,

I am so sorry to hear that you broke your hand and fingers. I am sending good thoughts your way that the pain eases... and that you can make it the rest of the way. Will you have help at that end to get about so you can come home?

Best wishes...

Lisa

Long Beach California

 

Please keep your messages coming via email to news@gbrowchallenge.com or at VirginGBRow2010 on Twitter.

 

06.30 Wednesday July 14
UPDATE


Under the watchful eye of the coastguard, the Haigh Lyon Seagals are about to enter the busy shipping lanes at the mouth of the River Humber.

They are currently past Flamborough Head and working their way along the east Yorkshire coast towards Spurn Head. They managed to row around 12 miles overnight.

From the Humber, the Seagals will strike out towards the north Norfolk coast to avoid treacherous sandbanks along the Lincolnshire coast and The Wash.

Just keep everything crossed that strong southerly winds that are currently forecast for the area don’t materialise to slow up their return to London for the finish of their incredible journey in the Virgin GB Row Challenge.

 

Latest messages from wellwishers:

GO Seagals GO

.

From a follower in Thunder Bay Ontario, Canada.

Angela, I might be rowing with you at the end of this month.

-Frank Pollari

 

Please keep your messages coming via email to news@gbrowchallenge.com or at VirginGBRow2010 on Twitter.

 

17.00 Tuesday July 13
UPDATE
 


Another impressive day, the Haigh Lyon Seagals are now almost at Flamborough Head in Yorkshire.

They are hoping to strike out towards the mouth of the Humber while north-easterly tail winds continue help them in their journey south towards the finish.

It is now exactly six weeks since the Seagals and their tiny boat Go Commando began their epic journey around Britain’s coastline in the Virgin GB Row challenge.

Latest stats from MarineTrak and Dotconnected.com
(As at 0800 today)

Total distance travelled 1,694miles

Distance travelled today : 23.51miles
Distance travelled July 12: 65:53
Distance travelled July 11: 25.63
Distance travelled July 10: 54.39
Distance travelled July 09: 21.77

 

07.00 Tuesday July 13
UPDATE

 

Just five miles from Scarborough, the Haigh Lyon Seagals have managed to row another 25 miles overnight.

With a light north-easterly wind on their tail, the all-female crew of Go Commando are rowing full steam ahead to complete their epic 2,010-mile journey around the British mainland.

With their eyes firmly set on the finish line in the Virgin GB Row Challenge, the Seagals are likely to have another day where they will be able to row around 50 miles.

 

Latest messages from wellwishers:

Hi Belinda,

Just a short note to say I have been following you and your admirable crew every step of the way. I am so proud that you are keeping up the Kirk tradition using guts and determination. You will make it despite the adverse conditions you all have encountered, I raise my glass to you.

Lots of love
 

Uncle Tim.

 

Please keep your messages coming via email to news@gbrowchallenge.com or at VirginGBRow2010 on Twitter.

 


22.00 Monday July 12
UPDATE

 

Aided by a light easterly wind, the Haigh Lyon Seagals are on target to reach Whitby tonight and, weather permitting on to Scarborough by early morning.

Thoughts of home are driving on the all-female crew who tomorrow will have been at sea for six weeks.

After 42 days surviving on ration packs, they have begun to dream of real food. Here’s the list that skipper Belinda Kirk sent to race organisors that the girls would love to get their teeth into on their return to London:

Sandwiches
Crisps
Veg Crudites and dips
Honey roasted cashews
Pizza slices
fruit salad
potato salad
cheesecake

 

18.00 Monday July 12
UPDATE
 

Another 30 miles notched up since this morning’s bulletin. With light easterly winds the Haigh Lyon Seagals are now approaching Middlesbrough.

Tonight they’re hoping to get to the beautiful North Yorkshire fishing port of Whitby.

While the light winds continue they are making maximum effort to head south as quickly as possible.

The Seagals weather guru Clemency is looking at the winds for the rest of the week, so they can decide whether to make a dash from the Humber to the north coast of Norfolk, cutting out much of Lincolnshire and the treacherous waters of The Wash.

There’s a blog in from Laura today where she talks about how they have begun dreaming of clean sheets, showers and wonderful food.

Asked what food she missed most, Bev replied simply: ‘Bread’.
 

 

06.30 Monday July 12
UPDATE
 

After a great night’s rowing, the Seagals are anchored off the mouth of the River Tyne.

Light westerly winds meant the all-female crew of Go Commando have been able to row almost 30 miles in the night from their last anchor point at Craster.

Bev Ashton, who was brought up in Gateshead, was hoping to see relatives and friends as she went by Whitley Bay and Tynemouth.

After 40 days at sea, the finish is now a tantalising 350miles or so away...

21.30 Sunday July 11
UPDATE
 

A couple of hours ago the wind dropped to around 5knots and the Haigh Lyon Seagals have been able to row around six miles already.

They are now in Aln Bay, near Alnmouth and expect to be at the mouth of the River Tyne on Monday afternoon – where hopefully a few of Bev’s family and supporters will be out to cheer her on.

From Tyneside, they will hug the River Humber because the wind forecast for the next couple of days is very unpredictable.

 

Bev using a handheld anemometer to check the wind speed

Bev says: “Some forecasts say there’ll be next to no wind, while others are predicting strong winds behind us! It’s difficult at this stage to say what’s likely to happen, so we’ll keep close to the coast just in case.

“From the Humber we’re hoping to strike out across to Norfolk and then on to London.”

 

Latest messages from wellwishers:

Hey Captain Kirk!

It was great speaking to you on Weds.....can't believe how long you've been away for now! I'm so so proud of you, you're an amazing woman! Saw Jimmer yesterday and he is working his little butt off to get things finished at the house, he even turned down a trip to Henleaze Lake today.

Full steam ahead now....want you back in London this Friday if that's ok!! Fingers crossed for the weather over the next few days...

A big big well done from Chig O'latte!! Love u lots xxx

 

Please keep your messages coming via email to news@gbrowchallenge.com or at VirginGBRow2010 on Twitter.


13.30 Sunday July 11
UPDATE

The Haigh Lyon Seagals are likely to stay at anchor near Craster, near Alnwick until about 1700. Winds are currently gusting at 25knots.

The all-female crew will wait until the wind has dropped to around 10knots before attempting to head south again.

Good news though is that the wind overnight is expected to die away completely, allowing them to make good progress towards Newcastle and then on to Teesside.

Comms are poor on this part of the Northumberland coast but in a short telephone call Bev Ashton said: “We’re planning to make up for lost time with a hard push overnight.

“We have changed our night-time rowing shifts from three hours to two hours on and two off so that we will have more stamina to make greater progress.”
 

 

07.30 Sunday July 11
UPDATE
 


The Seagals are now near Alnwick – location of Hogwarts castle in Harry Potter – and they just need a bit of wizardry with the wind today.

After giving the all-female crew a real helping hand yesterday, the wind has switched again to southerly.

In the last 12 hours they managed to row more than 20 miles in the Virgin GB Row Challenge.

But the Haigh Lyon Seagals are at anchor again as the head wind becomes strong. It will die down later and light easterly winds are forecast tomorrow allowing crew of Go Commando to continue towards the finish in London.
 


23.00 Saturday July 10
LATEST
 

Tonight the Haigh Lyon Seagals are off Holy Island on the Northumberland coast.

Despite almost incessant rain during the day, morale onboad Go Commando is high, as the all-female crew begin to scent the finish of their epic round-Britain row, now in 39th day
 

19.00 Saturday July 10
UPDATE


After nearly 18 days rowing around Scotland, the Haigh Lyon Seagals are back in English waters.

They crossed the border near Berwick-upon-Tweed earlier this afternoon and the local lifeboat came out to cheer on the women adventurers.

Rowing in the rain but with light easterly winds helping them along, the all-female crew in their boat Go Commando have made remarkable progress after endless days at anchor waiting for the wind to drop.

 

The Seagals had a visit from some sea kayakers

It is now 39 days since the Seagals set off on their incredible journey to row non-stop and unassisted 2010 miles around the coastline of Britain.

They now have well under 500 miles to go to the finish and reaching English waters has given them a boost.

Tonight they will pass Holy Island and the delightful north Northumberland coast, heading towards Tyneside.
 

 

NEW VIDEO of the near-miss with the tanker Whitstar is on our YouTube channel

14.00 Saturday July 10
UPDATE
 

Just five miles to the border! The Haigh Lyon Seagals are almost back in English waters on their amazing journey rowing around Britain’s mainland.

On day 38 they are managing to row at 3miles an hour and are off the Berwickshire port of Eyemouth.

It’s been raining all morning but they are making the most of the cooler weather and the light tail wind that has allowed them to cover nearly 25 miles in the last 12 hours.

 

11.15 Saturday July 10
LATEST


As the Seagals have come close in to the Berwickshire shore, they have been able to send some amazing blogs and pictures of their narrow escape yesterday when a giant tanker was on a collision course to mow them down when Go Commando was anchored near St Andrews.

We have just posted a blog from Bev, who was on deck at the time. More blogs, photos and video will be posted soon.


08.00 Saturday July 10
UPDATE
 

The Haigh Lyon Seagals have crossed the Firth of Forth and are now between Dunbar and Eyemouth on the Berwickshire coast.

With the winds now dropped to light westerlies they were able to row more than 20 miles during the night.

And the wind is expected to back round to a northerly direction during today to give them a boost and with clouds and light showers forecast they it not be too hot.

Hopefully, the Segals will be back in English waters by tonight.
 


22.00 Friday July 9
UPDATE


The Seagals are now at anchor five miles out to sea from St Andrews, after making real progress from Montrose where they were forced by strong winds to wait for two days.

They are waiting for the wind to drop and the tide to turn in their favour to continue across the Firth of Forth to the Berwickshire coast.
 


14.45 Friday July 9
LATEST
 


Back at anchor! The Haigh Lyon Seagals have been at anchor for the last three hours or so as the wind and tide conspired against them again this morning.

In that time, they have had a very close call with a tanker which came dangerously near their 24-foot-long boat, Go Commando.

The wind speed is expected to drop again to allow them to row across the Firth of Forth and once back in the lee of the land, they hope to make it to Eyemouth by tomorrow morning and, fingers crossed, to be back in English waters by nightfall on Saturday.

 

06.00 Friday July 9
UPDATE

 

England, here we come! The Seagals are now making serious progress on the final leg of their round-Britain row.

After two days at anchor sitting out strong head winds, the all female crew are now south of Dundee and almost at St Andrews.

Today the wind is expected to drop even further and come round to the west, which means they will be able to head straight across the mouth of the Firth of Forth and then down the coast and back into English waters.

Their boat Go Commando, sponsored by New Zealand law firm Haigh Lyon, is now travelling at a steady three miles an hour and with winds expected to be light over the weekend, we hope to see the Seagals notch up 50 and 60 miles days again.

Royal Navy nurse Laura Thomasson said: “On the way up the west coast I was delighted to see Scotland and now we’ve had so many hold-ups on the Scottish east coast that to get into English waters again will be a huge morale boost.”
 



23.00 Thursday July 8
UPDATE

Finally, the Haigh Lyon Seagals are back on the move after nearly two days at anchor, the wind has dropped enough for the crew of Go Commando to be able to continue their journey.

The all-female rowers are hoping to take advantage of the weather window to head across the mouth of the Forth of Forth towards Eymouth in Berwickshire.

 

15.00 Thursday July 8
UPDATE
 

Back on the anchor again. The headwind has picked up again this afternoon making it impossible for the Seagals to make any further progress at the moment.

They rowed about a mile this morning before dropping the anchor again near Ethie Mains, at the south end of Red Castle bay where they have been anchored for the best part of two days waiting for the wind to die down.

In a phone call this morning, Royal Navy nurse Laura Thomasson revealed that the tide in this part of Angus on the Scottish east coast is not very strong and the all-female crew cannot use the tide to help them to overcome the headwind.

Winds are forecast to drop later today and, hopefully, the Seagals will be able to build up some serious mileage on the last leg back to London to complete the Virgin GB Row challenge and the claim the record as the first women ever to row around Britain.
 


13.00 Thursday July 8
UPDATE

They’re underway again, making slow progress against the south-west wind.


After another night at anchor, the Haigh Lloyd Seagals are at last making their way south towards Aberdeen.

Laura and Angela lifted the anchor – after clearing a huge red and brown jelly fish, which had its tentacles wrapped around the line and the hull of their 24-foot-long boat, Go Commando.

But the wind was still strong and they struggled to make headway, so they dropped the anchor again.

But in the last hour, they have been able to start rowing again and managed to row about a mile from their anchor point near Red Castle.

Laura said: “It’s just so frustrating. Waiting for hours on end but we just went too soon. The forecast is for the wind to drop but we went just a bit too soon.”

 

08.00 Thursday July 8
UPDATE
 


Another night of no progress for the Seagals, as strong winds continued to keep them at anchor in a sandy bay halfway between Montrose and Arbroath.

The all-female crew on Go Commando are waiting for the strong south-west wind to drop enough for them to be able to continue their epic journey around Britain’s coastline.

After more than five weeks at sea, they are tantalisingly close to the finish in London – now just over 500 miles away.

Forecasters predict the wind in the North Sea will drop away in a few hours…until then it’s just a matter of sitting it out.

STATS (from Marine Trak and Dotconnected.com):
Total distance travelled 1,492.7miles
Distance travelled on July 7    2.24miles
Distance travelled on July 6  16.52miles
Distance travelled on July 5  44.98miles

22.30 Wednesday July 7
UPDATE
 


On board Go Commando, Bev is checking the wind speed hourly with her anemometer to check for any sign the wind is dropping.

At the moment the south westerly wind is still blowing at 15-20knots and gusting up to 30per cent faster.

At the first sign of the wind tailing off, the Haigh Lloyd Seagals – to give the all-female crew their proper title – will up anchor and try to head towards Eyemouth in Berwickshire.

For the 12 hours, or so, they have been anchored off the Angus coast in Red Castle bay, just south of Montrose.

They are now around 550miles from the finish of the first-ever 2m010-mile Virgin GB Race around Britain’s coast.

The Seagals have been at sea for 36 days and when they arrive back in London they will become world record holders, as the first women ever to row around Britain.


 

15.00 Wednesday July 7
UPDATE
 


Still at anchor just south of Montrose, the Seagals are waiting for the moment the wind drops enough to allow them to make another small step towards the finish.

Each time the wind falls away, the all-female crew on Go Commando, are determined to pick up the and row for as long as they can until the head-wind makes it impossible to make any progress.

In a fascinating blog from the boat, Lara Thomasson reveals the mental stresses of living together 24 hours a day for more than five weeks in a tiny space 24 feet long by six feet wide on the ocean and how the Seagals manage to cope.

 

11.30 Wednesday July 7
LATEST
 

The Seagals have moved to a better anchorage to wait out the next few hours of strong winds that will buffet the Angus coast today.

When the wind dropped at around 0800, they Angela and Laura were able to row nearly two miles before the wind came up again and they were forced to drop anchor just over a mile from the shore near Red Castle, south of Montrose.

Southerly winds, blowing at over 20mph, are forecast for the area for today and into tomorrow, which is hampering the crew of Go Commando’s attempt to become the first women to row around Britain.

The Seagals have been at sea for just over five weeks and are now around 550miles from the official finish of the Virgin GB Row Challenge at Tower Bridge in London.

In a phone call to race HQ, Laura Thomasson said: “We’re so near, yet so far. Every time there’s the slightest lull in the wind we get out the oars and row as far as we can before the wind gets up again.

“Everyone feels so much better when we’re rowing rather than sitting at anchor endlessly.

“With every stroke we’re getting closer to home. If the wind would drop or swing to the north we’d make real headway because we know the challenge is almost over.”

 

07.30 Wednesday July 7
UPDATE
 


Another night being battered by the wind. The Seagals are still at anchor south of Montrose as the southerly wind rises to over 30knots on the east coast of Scotland.

The all-female crew of Go Commando are again waiting for the wind to die down enough for them to continue their journey towards Dundee and on to the finish of their epic journey in London.

The wind is expected abate around sunset, so we expect another day of frustration as Go Commando sits out the storm.

 


21.30 Tuesday July 6
UPDATE
 

The Seagals have inched south again during the day and are now anchored near Dunninald Castle.

The castle, south of historic Montrose, looks over the bay where the all-female crew are anchored up in Go Commando.

The south-west wind was due to pick up to around 20 miles an hour tomorrow and on Thursday before dropping off away on Friday and hope of hopes, swinging round to a northerly on Saturday which help the girls drive for home.
 

 


15.30 Tuesday July 6
UPDATE
 

As expected, the wind has turned to a southwesterly headwind of some 10-15knots and building, so the Seagals are holed up again in relatively calm waters near Montrose. With the expectation that the weather is going to get worse later today, they are keen to avoid repeating the experience they had a couple of days ago when a rogue wave swamped the cabin, soaking a lot of their gear.

06.00  Tuesday July 6 
UPDATE

During the night, the Seagals were able to row another ten miles or so, heading south now towards Montrose.

At 0600 they are currently at anchor near Johnshaven waiting for the tide to turn in their favour. Today it is five weeks since the all-female crew set out from London in their tiny boast.

Winds are still westerly and not hampering the Seagals too much as they dry out and recover from the storm on Sunday that nearly ended their attempt to become the first women ever to row around Britain’s mainland.

As they head for Dundee today, the wind is expected to build during the day to peak at around 17mph, south-westerly by 22.00.

The next few days could be stop-start with strong winds forecast for Wednesday and Thursday.

But there’s good news on the horizon – the wind is expected to turn to the north by Saturday giving the Seagals a real chance of finishing the GB Row Challenge in London towards the end of next week!

Fingers crossed everybody…

 

22.00 Monday July 5
UPDATE
 


Today, the Seagals knocked another 20 miles off the distance home after their day of terror in a force storm 10 yesterday.

Tonight the all-female crew and their trust boat, Go Commando, have passed Stonehaven, south of Aberdeen.

With strongish westerly winds still blowing tonight, they are rowing at around 3mph, hugging the coast and heading towards Montrose with around 550 miles still to go until the finish at Tower Bridge in London.

 


18.30 Monday July 5
UPDATE



The Seagals are now south of Aberdeen after rowing 15 miles from the cove where they were swamped and almost driven onto the rocks during force-10 gales yesterday.

Tonight the Seagals have posted blogs telling the drama of the most terrifying day of their 33 days at sea since they began their epic attempt to become the first women ever to row around Britain’s mainland.

Royal Navy nurse Laura Thomasson and skipper Belinda Kirk reveal in graphic detail the horrors of being hit by 20-foot high waves as they sheltered from a ferocious storm of the north-east coast of Scotland.

We have posted the latest pictures in our gallery and more videos onto YouTube.

The girls are not only attempting to set a world record but they are also raising money for the wounded forces’ charity Help For Heroes. To donate to the Seagals H4H fund, just click on the Donate Now button on this page.
 

Latest messages from wellwishers:

Hi

I have a message for Angela and the girls...

Wow Angela, some pretty wild weather but you keep battling through. At least we didn't have rocks to avoid in the Indian!!! Wish i was there (I don't like all this dot-watching) and see you at Tower Bridge.

Helen (Aud Eamus IOR 09)

[Helen Taylor, British Rowing]

 

Please keep your messages coming via email to news@gbrowchallenge.com or at VirginGBRow2010 on Twitter.


16.30 Monday July 5
UPDATE


The Seagals have managed to cover some 9 miles today now that the wind has dropped to about 10-15mph. They are currently rowing at 4mph which is pretty good going in the wind conditions, but the wind is picking up speed again and veering to a headwind meaning that progress will continue to be difficult.

Latest videos posted on our YouTube channel show how the little 24ft boat gets thrown around in rough seas even when anchored up in the lee of the coastline. With room for only two people in the cabins, the other two crew members have to do the best they can on deck in the wet and windy conditions.

06.15  Monday July 5 
UPDATE

After spending the whole of Sunday sheltering in a cove south of Peterhead, the Seagals have begun working their way south again.

They have rowed nearly three miles since weighing anchor at dawn, hugging the coast to avoid the worst of the WSW wind that is still blowing in Aberdeenshire.

At 0600 this morning The Seagals were anchored again, about a mile south of the village of Whinnyfold, near Aberdeen.

Blogs from Angela and Belinda reveal that yesterday the front cabin of their tiny 24-foot long ocean-going boat was swamped by a wave.

Despite being in a sheltered cove, they were hit by three and four-metre high waves and the front cabin, shared by Laura and Bev was flooded. Angela and Belinda, who share the rear cabin had a spare sleeping bag for Laura and Bev to use while they are not rowing.

The wind is expected to swing to westerly and drop from about 10.00 to less than 10 miles an hour with sunny intervals, which will allow the all-female crew to make real progress during the day.

After 33 days at sea, the Seagals are less than 580 miles from the finish of their epic journey to become the first women ever to row around Britain.

They began the Virgin GB Row challenge in London on June 1.

 

20.30 Sunday July 4
UPDATE

 

Go Commando’s skipper Belinda Kirk made a short call to the Anglo-American Boast Race HQ to let the organisors know that the crew are safe at anchor.

They are anchored so close into shore that they can see huge waves out to sea, being whipped up by strong winds but the Seagals are snugly out of the worst of the wind.

They hope to make more progress tomorrow when the wind drops.
 


18.00 Sunday July 4
UPDATE
 

The hatches are still battened down on Go Commando as the Seagals sit out stiff south-westerly winds.

With winds forecast around 30-35mph forecast this evening, we expect the all-girl crew to stay put until at tomorrow morning when the wind is due to swing around the west and drop to about 14mph.

Although anchored only a few hundred metres from the shore, comms in the area have been poor and we have not received any blogs today. Hopefully, updates from Go Commando will resume once they leave anchor.
 

07.30 Sunday July 4
UPDATE
 

July 4th Independence Day and you can expect fireworks – that’s all true for the Seagals.

The weather is expected to turn nasty with winds gusting up to 70mph during the day.
To make matters worse rain is also forecast.

Last night the Seagals in their yellow and green boat Go Commando rowed six miles to the south of Peterhead.

They had hoped to reach the safety of the mouth of the River Don near Aberdeen to sit out the storm.

But, battling against strong headwinds, they didn’t get that far. Instead, they managed to anchor in a cove just south of Longhaven, where they can get some shelter.

At just 24 feet long, Go Commando is so small that only two of the four crew can shelter in the fore and aft cabins at anyone time. The other two crew have to sit on deck open to the elements.

They will be forced to spend all day at anchor there with the wind, already blowing at over 20mph forecast to reach 33-35mph from 1300 until 2200.
 

Tomorrow 15mph westerlies are forecast and, fingers crossed, they will be able to make real progress south towards the finish of the toughest rowing race in the world, Virgin GB Row.
 

Latest stats:
 

Distance travelled 1,430miles
Distance to finish 580miles

Travelled on July 1 2.89miles
Travelled on July 2 15.17miles
Travelled on July 3 16.08miles (at 18.45)

 

22.00 Saturday July 3
LATEST

The Seagals are racing against time to reach a safe haven before a storm blows up tomorrow.

After spending much of the day at anchor just north of Peterhead they are battling to make the safety of a river anchor to shelter from winds that will blow at around 35-40mph.

Since leaving anchor, they have rowed more than six miles into the teeth of a strong headwind.

They are trying to make the River Ython at Newburgh or ideally the River Don at Bridge of Don on the outskirts of Aberdeen, where they can be protected from the howling winds and get shelter from the incessant rain.

The all-female crew of Go Commando have now been at sea for 33 days, since leaving London at the start of the Virgin GB Row.

As well as attempting to become the first women ever to row around mainland Britain, they are also raising money for Help For Heroes.

 

17.00 Saturday July 3
UPDATE
 

After nearly 12 hours at anchor near Peterhead, the Seagals are hoping to be able to find better shelter tonight.

The southerly wind, which has been gusting around 20 knots, is expected to drop tonight before coming back with a vengeance tomorrow, when it will be blowing from the south east and will over 35miles an hour by lunchtime tomorrow (Sun)

The Seagals are planning to slip anchor this evening and row the 20 miles or south to Aberdeen.

They plan to seek shelter in the mouth of the River Don on the northern outskirts of the city to avoid being battered by big seas and strong winds in their rowing boat, Go Commando.

Go Commando’s skipper, Belinda Kirk, said in a call to race organisors: “Watch the tracker on the website. If you see us head south and then go back again you’ll know the headwind was just too strong.

“Being out at sea in the wind that’s coming will be no fun at all, so we’re taking a gamble on being able to reach the relative calm of the river at Aberdeen.”

Watch this space…
 



13.00 Saturday July 3
LATEST



Strong southerly winds up to 20miles an hour have forced the Seagals to anchor again.

They are anchored a mile out from the coast and two miles north of Buchanhaven, near the busy fishing port of Peterhead.

The all female crew are waiting and praying for the southerly winds to die down enough so they can resume their incredible journey rowing around Britain’s coast in the Virgin GB Challenge

 

07.00 Saturday July 3
UPDATE


The Seagals are finally on the move. The wind dropped enough in the early hours of the morning for the crew of Go Commando to leave their anchor near Fraserburgh and row south to just off Peterhead.

They managed to row around 17 miles in the night but the southerly wind is forecast to reach 21miles an hour again today – which means they will probably have to stay at anchor again for much of today.

And unfortunately the wind is expect to become even stronger tomorrow (Sunday) – this time over 30 miles an hour.

Being at anchor near fishing ports has become dangerous as fishing boats appear to deliberately steam at full power close to the tiny 24-foot-long rowing boat to scare the all-female crew in their tiny 24-foot-long rowing boat.

 

buzzed by a trawler

In Belinda’s latest blog, sent from Fraserburgh, she reveals how one boat came up close and a crew man made a signal indicating that he thought the Seagals were mad!

The latest video clip filmed from the boat also shows a fishing boat coming terrifyingly close to the Seagals….you can view it on our YouTube channel.

 

 

23.00 Friday July 2
UPDATE
 

Still at anchor about a mile from Sandhaven, near the fishing port of Fraserburgh waiting for the south-westerly wind to drop enough to venture round the corner to towards Aberdeen.

Another frustrating day for the Seagals in their attempt to become the first women ever to row around Britain’s mainland in the Virgin GB Row challenge.

 

18.00 Friday July 2
UPDATE


A day of boredom on board Go Commado, as the Seagals are forced to spend yet another lengthy spell at anchor.


They attempted to row against the south-easterly but when the wind got up to 20knots (23mph) it was too much to row against.

During today, so far, they have managed to row just four miles and are now at anchor on the outskirts of the fishing port of Fraserburgh, waiting for the wind speed to drop enough for them to venture round the corner and head south.

The all-female crew of Go Commando are expecting the wind to drop later tonight and to be able to make progress.

In a phone call to race organisors, skipper Belinda Kirk said: “We’ve spent so many days at anchor that we’re bored and we’re run out of ideas for games that we can play. We do have a pack of cards.

“If anyone has any suggestions let us know!”

Email your sufggestions to: news@gbrowchallenge.com and we'll pass them on

13.30 Friday July 2
UPDATE

 

Another deeply frustrating day for the Seagals who are back at anchor near Fraserburgh, north of Aberdeen.

The south-east winds are too strong for Go Commando and her all-female crew of four to make headway.

In the last 12 hours they have managed to row just over 10 miles – with around 600 miles left to go to the finish.

STATS
Distance travelled so far 1,402miles
Distance travelled on 2 July     11.62
Distance travelled on 1 July      2.86miles
Distance travelled on 30 June 36.22miles
 


07.00 Friday July 2
UPDATE


Hugging the shore to stay out of the south-easterly wind, the Seagals are five miles from the fishing port of Fraserburgh in Aberdeenshire.

In an hour or so, they will turn south again, into the teeth of the prevailing wind, which is forecast to reach about 17mph, making it difficult for the all-girl crew to make great progress.

In the last 12 hours, they have managed to row just 8 miles – after averaging around 60 miles a day recently.

Skipper Belinda Kirk says the weather pattern they have experienced in their four weeks at sea has been unusual for this time of year.

Normally, in June and July, there is southerly wind in the Irish Sea and northerlies in the North Sea, which is perfect for an attempt on the world record of 26 days and 14 hours set in 2005.

This year, the weather has been the opposite…battling against northerlies in the Irish Sea and now struggling against southerlies and they make their way south to London…
 

20.00 Thursday July 1
LATEST
 

Congratulations to military doctors, Hamish Reid and Nick Dennison, who became the first pair of rowers ever to cirumnavigate Britain non-stop and unaided. They arrived home in Lymington, Hants, today after 51 days at sea.

The Seagals have been watching their progress and are delighted they are home safe.

Picture: Rhiannon Jones

Row 4 Heroes homecoming

Later tonight, we expect the Seagals to leave the spot where they have been anchored for almost 24 hours and attempt to continue their row around Britain’s coast.

A 12 to 14-hour weather is likely open up tonight, allowing the all-women crew of Go Commando to row east towards Fraserburgh and then, hopefully, out into the North Sea where they will be able to head towards Aberdeen.

The Seagals attempted a break out this afternoon but the strong south-easterly almost stopped them in their tracks and after half an hour or rowing they had made very little progress and gave up their valiant attempt.

Skipper Belinda Kirk said: “The wind is forecast to drop later this evening and we expect to have a weather window tonight and again on Saturday to get going again and make progress.”

 

sheltering from the rain

With limited shelter available in the cabins, Belinda demonstrates how a waterproof sleeping bag can help the crew get some rest on deck while they are held up.

 

 

12.30 Thursday July 1
UPDATE
 

At midday the Seagals were still at their overnight anchor position between Banff and Fraserburgh on the north eastern Scottish coast. They are being held up by a southeasterly wind which is still blowing around 20 mph and is not forecast to drop until this evening.

With rain also forecast for most of that time they are having an unpleasant hold up in the good progress which they have been making in the last few days on the 600 mile journey home down the east side of Britain.

05.45  Thursday July 1 
UPDATE

After a night being buffeted by south-easterly winds, the Seagals are still at anchor in the lee of high ground near Banff in Aberdeenshire.

It is exactly a month since they began their attempt to become the first women ever to row around the British coast in their tiny 24-foot-long yellow and green boat, Go Commando.

With just over 600 miles left to the finish of the first-ever Virgin GB Row challenge the all-female crew are desperately waiting for the south-easterly wind to die down, or switch direction, so they complete the last leg of their incredible journey back to London.

When they set off, on June 1, they were racing against a team of men who were forced to retire at Land’s End.

The women, led by skipper Belinda Kirk, have continued on their own for nearly 1,000 miles to try and complete the race to win £15,000 and the Virgin Trophy donated by Sir Richard Branson and the claim a place in history as the first women ever to row around mainland Britain.

They are also raising money for Help for Heroes. Please tell anyone you know about the girls’ amazing efforts and ask them to make a donation – just click on the DONATE NOW button and make a payment no matter how small.

In their four weeks at sea, the women have endured unbelievable hardships and the latest blog from Laura Thommason, who is a Royal Navy nurse, reveals just how painful it has been rowing over 1,300 miles….



22.30 Wednesday June 30
UPDATE

Safely at anchor about a mile from Gardenstown, east of Banff, the Seagals are preparing to sit out a storm forecast for tonight.


The accommodation cabins are so small on Go Commando that when the boat is at anchor at night, two people have to sit on deck for up to three hours, even in the worst weather.


Sleep tight Seagals and stay safe…
 


19.00 Wednesday June 30
LATEST
 

The Seagals are at anchor just east of Macduff, near Banff on the north coast of Aberdeenshire after safely making the 50-mile crossing of the Moray Firth.

They headed for this particular spot because it is protected by high ground that will shelter them and their tiny boat Go Commando from the strong south-east winds that are beginning to build.

Rain is also forecast for the area overnight. Lots of new pictures and video from John O’Groats have just arrived in from the Seagals and are now on our YouTube channel and our photo gallery.

 

passing John O'Groats

The girls, who are attempting to become the first all-female crew to row around Britain, will spend at least tonight on a stretch of coast that became famous all over the world thanks to Bill Forsyth’s 1983 film Local Hero, starring Burt Lancaster and Denis Lawson.

 

Latest messages from wellwishers:

Rowing girls rock my World! Go,Go,Go.

Love from Johnny de Mearns to you all xxx

 

Please keep your messages coming via email to news@gbrowchallenge.com or at VirginGBRow2010 on Twitter.


12.00 Wednesday June 30
 

The Seagals appear to have switched tack and are now heading back towards Banff on the Aberdeenshire coast.

The all-female crew in their boat Go Commando are three quarters of the way across the Moray Firth.

But with bad weather forecast for later in the day, they are heading for shelter near the port of Banff.
 

OFFICIAL STATS
 

Total distance travelled 0700 today: 1,368miles

Distance travelled yesterday June 29: 60.18

 

07.00 Wednesday June 30
UPDATE
 

The Seagals are in a race against time. At around 1300 today the weather will close in.

The sun and light winds they have enjoyed for the last few days will be replaced by rain and strong south-easterly winds at around lunchtime today.

Yesterday evening the all-girl rowers took a gamble and set off across the 50-mile wide mouth of the Moray Firth in their 24-foot-long boat, Go Commando, as reports said the weather you turn tonight.

But with the weather front changing much earlier, the Seagals are racing to reach shelter.

This morning they have about 15 miles to go to reach the protection of land between Banff and Fraserburgh on the Aberdeenshire coast. Will they get there before the bad weather rolls in?

Currently rowing at around two miles an hour it will be a close call…

 

Latest messages from wellwishers:

Hello from California Seagals!

A speed record now too! Congratulations! That had to feel wonderful making it past a point that was feared might harm you. Great, great work. I bet that was an exhilarating speed! I am watching intently, sending best wishes along the way.

P. S.: Hurry Angela, delicious Halibut Tacos await!

Lisa Barrett, Long Beach California.

 

Please keep your messages coming via email to news@gbrowchallenge.com or at VirginGBRow2010 on Twitter.

21.00 Tuesday June 29
UPDATE
 

It was the day the Segals really flew!

With bad weather predicted in the north of Scotland by Wednesday night and on Thursday, the all-female crew of Go Commando needed to get past John O’Groats as quickly as possible.

All the yachting guidebooks and marine manuals warn small boat owners never to attempt to venture into the Pentland Firth during a spring tide, where the sea can run at over 14 miles an hour.

However, the girls took a calculated gamble and rode the wave. We have pictures, below, from John O'Graots and on our photo gallery. Also click on our YouTube link to see new video of the girls in the Pentland Firth. 

An on-board tracker recorded that for three hours they rowed their tiny boat at speeds of more than 10miles an hour.

And the tracker confirms (see the stats below) that at just after 10.30, as they rounded the corner into the North Sea, Go Commando was travelling at an incredible 16.86 miles an hour – a new record for the GB Row Challenge.

In 2005, when Lt William de Laszlo’s team became the first to ever row around Britain, the fastest speed thy achieved was 10 knots (11.5mph).

The amazing speeds notched up by the Seagals mean that by 1900 tonight, they had already rowed nearly 48 miles, with five hours still to go.

Tonight they have begun the 50-mile crossing of the Moray Firth. The Seagals are heading for Banff, near Frazerburgh, where they hope to be able to shelter from the strong south-easterly winds forecast for tomorrow night.

 

The tale of the tracker…stats supplied by MarineTrak and dotconnected.com
 

June 29, 2010 (Caithness coast)

Time:     Speed
08.48     11.11mph
09.16     12.09mph
08.47     14.89mph
10.32     16.86mph
11.47     10.47mph

 

14.00 Tuesday June 29
UPDATE
 

The Seagals are on their way home! Carried by a surging tide, the all female crew attempting to row around Britain have passed John O’Groats and are on the final 700-mile leg back to London.

Four weeks after setting off to row around mainland Britain, they reached the most northerly point in their epic journey this morning and the on-board tracker, kindly supplied by MarineTrak and dotconnected, recorded speeds of 14.66knots – that’s almost 17MILES AN HOUR.

Bev Ashton said: “All the yachting books warn you never to take a small boat through the Pentland Firth on a spring tide but we took advice from local people and with perfect weather, we went for it.

“It was fast. We couldn’t believe how quickly we were going. When we reached the point where the Pentland Firth meets the North Sea it was really choppy. Laura said it was ‘like being in a pot of boiling water.’”

The Seagals had anchored up overnight to the east of Thurso waiting for the tide to change.
 

The Seagals close to John O'Groats

The Seagals pause in calm water before
tackling the tidal race at Pentland Firth
(photo: John Baikie)

 


As soon as they caught the tide, their speed increased so dramatically that by 1300 today they had travelled an astonishing 30miles in the six hours since lifting the anchor.

Still rowing at nearly 3.5miles an hour, the Seagals are near Wick. After looking at the weather charts, they will decide whether to cut straight across the Moray Firth or take the longer route, hugging the coast.

 

 

11.00 Tuesday June 29
LATEST...
Seagals pass John O'Groats


The Seagals are on their way south on the final leg of their incredible journey rowing around Britain’s coast.

At just after 10.30 this morning the spring flood tide carried their little boat, Go Commando, at nearly 17miles an hour (14.66knots) past John O’Groats, the most northerly point on their route around the mainland.

With clear skies and little wind the conditions were prefect for riding the fastest tide in Scotland, where the waters of the Pentland Firth rip through at over 12knots.

Bev Ashton’s dad, Hugh Ross and her uncle Gordon Shearer watched from their fishing boat as the Seagals headed out into the North Sea to use the tide to catapult Go Commando south towards Aberdeen.

Hugh said: “The girls were on great form and they flying along on the tide. We accompanied them from the west side of the firth out past John O’Groats. They were fairly flying along.

Four weeks after setting out from London on the Virgin GB Row Challenge, the Seagals now have less than 700 miles left of their 2,010-mile non-stop journey to become the first women ever to row around Britain’s coastline.

Official stats at 06.15 today

Total distance travelled 1,293miles
Distance travelled yesterday 49.7miles
 


06.15 Tuesday June 29
UPDATE
 


Four weeks to the day since leaving London, the Seagals face the most dangerous moment of their incredible journey…rounding the north of Scotland in a raging spring tide.

At this time of year, the tide in the Pentland Firth runs at 12knots – around 14 miles an hour – and general advice to yachtsmen is not to even attempt it.

But after talking to local experts, the Seagals are planning to ride the tide later this morning.

The all-female crew are currently anchored in Dwarick Bay just east of Thurso. At about 0700 they will lift the anchor and row for a mile or so, out past the headland at Dunnet Point.

At around 0800 the flood tide will pick up their 24-foot-long boat, Go Commando, and hopefully carry the Seagals safely past John O’Groats and out into the North Sea for the final leg of their 2,010-mile journey around Britain in the Virgin GB Row challenge.

In a brief phone call to the media office, Bev said: “It’ll be an adventure!”
 

23.00 Monday June 28
UPDATE

Four weeks after they left London to row around Britain, the crew of Go Commando face their most dangerous day yet tomorrow.

In the morning they will attempt to pass John O’Groats and turn south into the North Sea.

But first they will have to negotiate the Pentland Firth, where the spring tides will be running at a terrifying 12knots – that’s almost 14 miles per hour!

The water runs so fast that the Seagals and their tiny 24-foot-long rowing boat will be catapulted past John O’Groats, the most northerly place in mainland Britain, and if they time it right the tide will carry then south towards Inverness and Aberdeen.

Get it wrong and the raging current will dash them onto the shore.

The Seagals are attempting to become the first women ever to row around the 2,010-mile British coastline.

Tonight they are about 10 miles from Thurso on the Caithness coast. They will most probably anchor later tonight at Dunnet Bay, just east of Thurso.

Then, early tomorrow, they will weigh anchor and slip into a tidal stream that will make a roller coaster look tame…

 

16.30 Monday June 28
LATEST
 

Just before 1500 hours British Summer Time the world record for rowing non-stop around Britain elapsed.

Since June 1, the Seagals have been chasing that record of 26 days 21 hours and 14minutes, set in the summer of 2005.

The all-female crew on were on record-breaking time until the point just over two weeks ago when they turned at Land’s End to head north.

For well over a week they battled into un-seasonal, strong northerly headwinds, which dramatically slowed their pace through the Irish Sea.

But since the Isle of Man, where the wind swung back to a southerly, the Seagals have been rowing 50 or 60 miles a day.

This afternoon, as they approached the Dounreay nuclear power station on the north coast of Scotland, crew member Bev Ashton reflected on the record.

She said: “Our experience has proved that you really need the weather to be right to beat the existing record. We now have huge respect for the wind and the tides around Britain and for the record that was set in 2005.

“It is absolute proof that no matter how hard you row and how skillfully you read the tides, if the weather is against you, you can’t break this record.

“I hope people have been able to see that since our setback at Land’s End we’ve battled on with determination and can appreciate the skills on the boat.

“Our hearts are set on getting back to London as fast as we possibly can to set a new world record for a team of women rowing around Britain and to raise more money for Help for Heroes.”

 

The Seagals on the western Scottish coast

You can make a donation to the Seagals fund for Help for Heroes by clicking on the ‘Donate Now’ button on this page.

 

 


13.30 Monday June 28
UPDATE
 

The big question now is ‘when will the Seagals reach John O’Groats?’

Original estimates were that they would pass the most northerly point on their incredible row around Britain on Thursday, maybe Wednesday at a push.

But it now looks like they could be past John O’Groats late tonight or early tomorrow morning (Tues)

With a tail wind and helpful spring tides, the Seagals were travelling at up six or seven miles an hour at times during this morning.

Keep watching the tracker. They may anchor later at Scarfskerry Point, east of Thurso, and wait for the tide to turn.

Bev’s father, Hugh Ross, whose family are from John O’Groats, says that if the girls go far enough out from the coast and time their approach right, the spring tide will ‘carry them round the corner and well on the way to Aberdeen’.

Fingers crossed for the right conditions and the Seagals and their tiny boat, Go Commando, will soon be heading south on the final leg of their 2,010-mile journey to become the first women ever to row around Britain.

Latest stats:
Total distance travelled at 0600bst today – 1248.9miles
Distance rowed per day:
June 27   58.76miles
June 26   66.39miles
June 25   59.91miles

Estimated distance to finish 761.1miles



06.30 Monday June 28
UPDATE
 

They say it’s tough at the top…but the Seagals have made good headway during the night at the top of Britain.

The all-female crew and their tiny boat, Go Commando, are ten miles past Cape Wrath, the most north westerly point in their incredible journey around Britain’s coastline.

Staying about two miles off the coast, they are heading towards John O’Groats, the ancestral home of Bev Ashton’s family, who are waiting for the Seagals to approach the most northerly point in mainland Britain.

There’s new footage from Angela of the NW tip of Scotland, shot on one of the Samsung Wave phones donated by Virgin Media,

From John O’Groats, the girls will turn south and head for London. At the moment they look likely to be heading into southerly headwinds, which will slow up their return to the capital and a place in the record books as the first women ever to row around the UK.

It’s almost four weeks since they set off from Tower Bridge racing an all-male crew in the Virgin GB Row 2010 race. The men were forced to quit at Land’s End after 12 days and the girls have since been rowing on their own – determined to finish and collect the Virgin Trophy being given by Sir Richard Branson.

22.00 Sunday June 27
UPDATE
 

They’re round the cape of fear. Cape Wrath – home of some of the most treacherous waters in the UK – showed its friendly face tonight as the Seagals reached the top of Britain.

After anchoring for several hours to wait for the tide to turn in their favour, the all-women crew of Go Commando stuck to their plan to attack the Cape and navigate round the north-west tip of mainland Britain.

After more than two weeks of rowing steadily north since Land’s End, the Seagals have turned their tiny yellow and green boat east towards John O’Groats ready for the last leg home.

Their next target is the fast-flowing tidal waters of the Pentland Firth, which divides the mainland from the Orkney Islands.

 

18.30 Sunday June 27
UPDATE


 

ATTACK ON CAPE WRATH and A KILLER WHALE 
 

While most English people were in despair over football hell - the team’s world cup exit -
the Seagals were in heaven...anchored in a beautiful cove just five miles from Cape Wrath.

The all-women crew of Go Commando are waiting for the tide to turn to ‘attack Cape Wrath’ to ‘round the corner’ at the top of Scotland in the most treacherous waters in Britain.

Today, while rowing north from Ullapool, Belinda Kirk and Bev Ashton, had a close encounter with a killer whale.

With bated breath, they watched the orca’s huge dorsal fin surge towards their tiny 24-foot-long ocean rowing boat.

In a phone call, skipper Belinda revealed: “We held our breath as the fin came closer and closer and then at the last possible moment, the killer whale dived under and we didn’t see it again.”

Since around 1600, the girls have been anchored about five miles south of Cape Wrath. They used their time to speak to local experts, including coastguard and Bev’s dad, Hugh Ross, whose family are fishermen on the north Scottish coast.

With a light southerly wind and fine weather, the general consensus was ‘go for it.’

So, when the tide turns, they will make an attack on the Cape, the most north-westerly point on their 2,010-mile journey around the British coastline.

Meanwhile, they have been entertained by wildlife that is unused to seeing boats close in to the shore that the show has been spectacular.
 

 

12.00 Sunday June 27

LATEST
 

The power of positive thinking says that if many people have the same thought, they have the power to influence events.

All over the world, from New Zealand where the Seagals sponsors Haigh Lyon are based to California and Hawaii where Angela’s friends are based, thousands of people are watching a tiny pink boat inch its way up the coast on the Virgin GB Row tracker map.

They’re all willing the Seagals to get to the top of Scotland before the weather deteriorates.

And the power of multiple thoughts seems to be working, as the Seagals are now around 10 miles from – as Laura called it in her latest blog, ‘the ominously named Cape Wrath’ the most north-westerly point on the 2,010-mile journey around Britain’s coast.

Keep those positive thoughts coming, folks, to help the crew of Go Commando round the corner and into the Pentland Firth.
 


06.30 Sunday June 27
UPDATE
 


Now 20 miles north of Ullapool, the Seagals have just 30 miles to go to Cape Wrath, the far northwest tip of their journey around Britain’s coast.

Still rowing at around three miles an hour in light winds, the all-female team in their 24-foot ocean-going boat, Go Commando, are hugging the coast as they approach the rip tides at the Cape.

They are making the most of the light winds today as strong south-westerlies are forecast tomorrow and they may have to take shelter until the wind dies down.


23.00 Saturday June 26
UPDATE


With around just 50 miles left to Cape Wrath, the most north-westerly point on their journey around Britain, the Seagals are conserving electricity.

To make sure they have enough power for the electric water maker, electronic chart plotter and navigation lights, any other equipment that drains the batteries is being used sparingly. Which means all communication is being kept to a minimum.

But in a brief conversation with race organisors, skipper Belinda Kirk revealed the Seagals are expecting bad weather to close in as they approach the dangerous waters around Cape Wrath and they may have to hole up for a while until the bad weather passes.

After being at anchor at the Skye Bridge until 2am, waiting for the tide to turn, the Seagals have rowed uninterrupted all day and made more than 35 miles in the last 12 hours.

Fingers crossed, they hope to reach John O’Groats by midweek to turn south for the final leg of the Virgin GB Row Challenge to London – and a place in the record books as the first women ever to row the 2,010 miles around Britain’s coast.

 

A MESSAGE OF SUPPORT:
 

Keep up the fantastic effort. Hope it stays nice and calm for you. I was looking forward to seeing you round Ardnamurchan Point but had arranged to go to the Royal Highland Show yesterday when you rounded the most westerly point on the mainland yesterday morning. I have some expedition experience, Shackleton's Boat Journey from Elephant Island and kayaking across the Bering Strait. So I know a bit about long night watches and what you are achieving is nothing short of fantastic. The sheer sustained effort, lack of proper sleep day after day is miraculous. Now you are past that psychological barrier of the half way point and are reeling the miles in.
Fantastic -Go girls go
Trevor Potts

Keep your messages of support coming folks! Email news@gbrowchallenge.com or tweet us on Virgin GB Row 2010

 

17.00 Saturday June 26
UPDATE

 

The Seagals are now north of the Isle of Skye heading towards Ullapool and the Hebrides in their attempt to row around Britain's coast.

It is now almost 25 days since they began the Virgin GB Row Challenge and they have rowed nearly 1,200 miles.

And have done another 20 miles since the Kyle of Lochalsh this morning.
 

05.00 Saturday, June 26
 

They’re through! The Seagals have reached the latest major landmark on their amazing row around Britain’s coast.

They have now passed under the Skye Bridge at Kyle of Lochalsh and are heading for Ullapool and the Hebrides.

Still rowing at nearly three miles an hour, the crew of Go Commando went under the bridge in the early hours of the morning.

The wind is still in their favour, southerly for the next two days and then becoming westerly on Tuesday – which will be perfect for rounding the top of Scotland in their Virgin GB Row Challenge.

 


22.15 Friday June 25
UPDATE


WITH a full moon to guide them, the Seagals are on target to pass under the Skye road bridge at Kyle of Lochalsh in the middle of the night.

The all-girl crew had anticipated they might have to anchor just south of the bridge between 2100 and midnight to wait for the right tide to shoot under the 1,640-feet-long bridge.

But at 2200, Go Commando was still travelling at nearly three miles an hour and was around eight miles from the bridge. They have already rowed nearly 60 miles today.
 

Earlier in the day, the crew led by skipper Belinda Kirk had received a phone call from Sir Richard Branson to wish the girls well and congratulate them on reaching the halfway point in their attempt to become the first women ever to row the 2,010 miles around the coast of Britain.


When they set off from London at the start of the Virgin GB Row Challenge the four women were racing against a team of men.

But the men were forced to give up the race at Land’s End and for nearly two weeks, the Seagals have continued on their own. When they reach London – still just under 900 miles away – they will receive the Virgin Trophy and £15,000 first prize.

The Seagals are also raising money for the Help for Heroes charity. You can mame a donation by clicking on the ‘Donate’ button, above.
 


16.00 Friday June 25
UPDATE

Speed bonny boat, like a bird on the wing, over the sea to Skye.

The all-female crew of Go Commando are heading for the Isle of Skye after passing the islands of Eig and Rhum this morning on their incredible 2,010-mile journey rowing around the coast of Britain.

When you say it fast 2,010 miles doesn't sound a lot but it's almost the same distance as Cairo is from London.

Imagine rowing from the UK to Egypt in a 24-foot-long boat - that's how far the incredible Seagals are doing to enter the record books as the first women ever to row around mainland Britain.

They are currently rowing at more than two miles an hour towards the Isle of Skye and expect to go under the famous Skye Bridge in the early hours of tomorrow morning.

As well attempting to set a world record, the girls are raising money for Help For Heroes.

You can help them raise the cash by making a donation - just click on the donate button on our site.

Latest messages from wellwishers:

Belinda and team, what you are doing is amazing!!! Keep going, wishing you all the best!

Chris & Kate xxx

A world record, dosh and hi-cal fairy cakes and tea await! If only England football team had some die hard Seagals!

Tim Francis, Hear More Technology.

 

Please keep your messages coming via email to news@gbrowchallenge.com or at VirginGBRow2010 on Twitter.



09.00  Friday June 25 
UPDATE

Official stats

Go Commando
Total miles travelled 1079
Distance June 24 35.37
Distance today 23.02

 


06.00 Friday June 25
UPDATE
 


Almost clear of the Sound of Mull, the Seagals rowed another 20 miles during the short mid-summer night on the Scottish west coast.

Form here they will turn north towards the Isle of Skye. Latest estimates are that they will pass under the famous Skye Bridge late tonight or tomorrow morning.

And with the wind still in their favour, the all female-crew are expected to reach John O’ Groats on the northern tip of northern Scotland in about four days time.

The Seagals are attempting to become the first women ever to row around Britain in the Virgin GB Row Challenge – the most gruelling rowing endurance event in the world.

 


21.00 Thursday June 24
UPDATE
 

Anchored in the Sound of Mull, about ten miles from Oban, the Seagals are waiting for the tide to turn in their favour.

Another great day’s rowing today. Official stats show that by 1700 the all-girl crew of Go Commando had notched up 1,047 miles since leaving London on June 1 at the start of the GB Row Challenge.

And by 5pm they had today rowed more than 25 miles. The crew are delighting in the breath-taking beauty of the Scottish highlands and Islands.

Once they are through the South of Mull with its racing tides, they will turn north again towards Mallaig and the Isle of Skye.

After 80 hours of non-stop rowing, the Seagals anchored earlier today to wait to take advantage of the tides and this evening they were at anchor again.

Said Bev: “I was really sorry we couldn’t stop and explore some of the whisky islands
 

Stats:
Go Commando
Total distance travelled 1,047.1miles
June 24: Distance travelled by 1700 today 25.65miles
June 23: Distance travelled in day 59.56miles
June 22: Distance travelled in day 69.05miles
 


13.00 Thursday June 24
UPDATE

 

The Seagals are back on the move now that the tides are in their favour. They are making steady progress up the Firth of Lorne - that's the southwestern edge of the Isle of Mull. There's a lack of blogs from the girls at the moment because phone coverage is so difficult around the Lochs and Isles of western Scotland, but we're all hoping they can turn the corner into the narrow Sound of Mull at a time when the tides are in the right direction. The Seagals have a light tailwind in their favour at the moment.

08.00  Thursday June 24 
UPDATE

The Seagals continued to make great progress yesterday covering 59 miles up the west coast of Scotland. They have now travelled 1021 miles since the start at Tower Bridge 22 days ago. They are currently at rest in the Sound of Luing where they await favourable tides before crossing to Mull.

20.00  Wednesday June 23
UPDATE

They've done it folks - at 17.00 hours today the Seagals reached the psychologically important halfway point in the Virgin GB Row Challenge. The all-female crew of Go Commando have now rowed 1005 miles since leaving London just over 3 weeks ago. They are now amongst the most stunning scenery of their journey so far near Loch Gilphead and have rowed for 75 hours without having to drop the anchor.

14.30  Wednesday June 23 
UPDATE

Another great day for the Seagals, who are now north of Glasgow, heading towards the Isle of Jura and Oban.

By 11.00 this morning thy had already rowed 30 miles today and notched up a total of 991 miles since leaving London just over three weeks ago.

They will soon pass the halfway mark - 1,005miles - in their amazing journey to become the first women ever to row around Britain's coast in the Virgin GB Row challenge.

We are waiting the official stats to confirm they have reached halfway...
 

08.00 June 22 UPDATE


Now they're motoring! During the night, the Seagals have rowed up the Mull of Kintyre and are heading towards the island of Jura on their epic row around Britain's coastline.

On day 22 of the Virgin GB Row the all-female crew will most likely reach half way in their 2,010-mile journey.

At 1700 yesterday thy had travelled 938 miles since leaving Tower Bridge in London on June 1


22.30 June 22 UPDATE
 

The Seagals are almost at the Mull of Kintyre after another great day rowing. The all-female crew are negotiating the treacheous tides that flow through the 10-mile wide gap between the Mull and the coast of Northern Ireland.

After three weeks at sea, they are almost at the halfway point in their amazing journey to becom the first women ever to row around Britain. Stay safe, Seagals.


18.30 June 22 UPDATE


The Seagals continue to enjoy the new favourable weather conditions. They have done a respectable 34 miles in the last 12 hours. This new rate of progress has made a big difference for life on board Go Commando after many days of sheer hard grind, as Laura reported in her blog at 7.15 this morning. They are now approaching the northernmost tip of Ireland and will soon be entering difficult waters around the west of Scotland.

13.20  Tuesday June 22 
UPDATE
 

Nine hundred miles gone – 1,100 to go!

The Seagals reached the 900-mile mark today as they entered Scottish waters on their incredible journey rowing around the coast of Britain.

By one o’clock this afternoon the all-female crew in their 24-foot-long had clocked 924miles since leaving Tower Bridge in London on June 1.

Just before midday, the girls made good use of the tidal race between Scotland and Ireland and were travelling at an astonishing nine miles an hour in the Virgin GB Row Challenge.

If this keeps up, the Seagals could notch up their longest day for mileage of their journey so far.

Yesterday (Monday) was their second best day, so far. They managed to row 67.84miles through the Irish Sea. Since midnight they have rowed 31.3miles and have now past Stranraer.

What a difference not having to plough endlessly into headwinds makes!

June 3 in the English Channel was their best day for mileage – with 76 miles of rowing in one 24-hour period…perhaps that record will be beaten today…

 

06.25 Tuesday June 22
LATEST
 

The Seagals are now off Scotland. According to the marine tracker fitted to Go Commando – kindly donated by MarineTrack – the all-female crew are now off the southern tip of the Mull of Galloway.

Three weeks after setting off on their incredible journey to become the first women ever to row around Britain’s coastline, the Seagals have reached another milestone – Scottish waters.
 

 

06.00 Tuesday June 22
UPDATE
 

Now well north of the Isle of Man, the Seagals have almost reached Scotland.

Three weeks to the day since leaving London, the all-female crew of Go Commando are now close to Belfast and are around 10 miles from entering Scottish waters.

The southerly wind the girls have been wishing for since reaching Land’s End ten days ago has finally arrived – blowing at up to ten miles an hour - allowing the crew to row non-stop in pairs for almost 48 hours.

They have clocked up another 20 miles during the night and skipper Belinda Kirk says today’s target is to try to reach the Mull of Kintyre.
 


00.15 Tuesday June 22
LATEST
 

The Seagals have almost reached Scottish waters. At the end of the longest day of the year they are just 10 miles from the southern tip of the Mull of Galloway.

At last with a southerly tail wind, the all-female crew of Go Commando are rowing at a relentless four miles an hour past the Belfast to Douglas shipping lane, heading for the tidal race between Stranraer in south-west Scotland and the Ulster coast at Larne.

Latest stats show the Seagals rowed nearly 60 miles during Monday and now the wind has switched in their favour, they are looking forward to clawing back the miles in their attempt to become the first women ever to row the 2,010 miles around the coast of Britain.

So far, since they began their great adventure three weeks ago today at Tower Bridge in London, the Seagals have rowed a total of 880.9miles in the Virgin GB Row challenge. 

 

20.30 Monday June 21
UPDATE
 

Killer whales in the Irish Sea?

Manx radio have been reporting that two killer whales were sighted off the Isle of Man today.

This afternoon two huge whales rose to the surface just 50 metres from the Seagals on Go Commando who were rowing up the west of the island.

Skipper Belinda Kirk said: “I saw one whale come to the surface and Angela actually spotted two of them. They didn’t exhale through their blow holes but their dorsal fins appeared on the surface and then they dived down again.”

Later in the afternoon while being interviewed on Manx Radio, the reporter revealed there had been other sighting of two killer whales near the island.

It’s certainly been a day to remember for the all-female crew on their attempt to row around Britain.

The crew of Go Commando have been able to row constantly for 36 hours without having to drop anchor. In two-hour shifts, they have managed to row 30 miles in the last 12 hours.

The promised southerly wind has just appeared to give the Seagals a boost in their efforts to reach the Mull of Galloway, about 20 miles north of their present position off the north-west coast of the Isle of Man.

 

15.00 Monday June 21
UPDATE
 

Zig-zagging across the Irish Sea to take advantage of the tides, the Seagals are now off the west coast of the Isle of Man in their attempt to become the first women to row around Britain.

Now the northerly wind has dropped, the all-female crew of Go Commando can start to notch up the kind of daily milages they haven’t been able to muster since before Land’s End.

With no wind, it is very hot onboard rowing in the full glare of the sun and, in a new blog, Angela Madsen revealed that the crew are considering switching rowing pairs every hour to lessen the discomfort.

Even so, they are now rowing at 3mph and are about six miles south of the pretty port of Peel.

The good weather means they have managed to travel more than 26 miles in the last 12 hours.

 

11.20 Monday June 21
LATEST

Light northerly winds in the Irish Sea have allowed the Segals to cover nearly 20 miles since midnight.


And this morning they made a change of course to go just south of the Isle of Man, waiting for the wind to change to SW to help them row north towards Stranraer and the coast of south-west Scotland.

The all-female crew on Go Commando have now rowed almost 850miles since the Virgin GB Row challenge began in London on June 1.

 

Go Commando
 

Total distance travelled 844.68miles
Travelled Sunday 20/6 50.66miles
Travelled Sat 19/6 18.85miles
Travelled Friday 18/6 31.14miles

 

07.00 Monday June 21
UPDATE


The Seagals watched the sun rise on the longest day of the year from south of the Isle of Man.

After changing course slightly during the night, the crew of Go Commando are heading towards the capital, Douglas, using the island’s east coast to shield them from the light NW winds.

The all-female crew, rowing in two-hours shifts, have rowed more than 20 miles in the last 12 hours.

And with the wind forecast to finally swing to a south-westerly today, they will be able to make the most of the long daylight hours to finally head towards Scottish waters.

The Seagals will also be able to make up some of the time lost since they rounded Land’s End 10 days ago, straight into strong headwinds.



 

23.00 Sunday June 20
UPDATE
 

Doing a steady two miles an hour, the Seagals are heading towards Port St Mary at the southern tip of the Isle of Man.

A clear night with next to no wind should see Go Commando off the island by morning. They have rowed over 16 miles in the last 12 hours.

Go Commando and her all female crew are currently about twenty miles south of the island and around 50miles west of Blackpool on their incredible journey to become the first women ever to row around Britain’s coastline.

On Tuesday they will have been at sea for three weeks, after leaving Tower Bridge on June 1 to row non-stop and assisted 2,010miles around the mainland in the first-ever Virgin GB Row challenge.
 


20.00 Sunday June 20
LATEST
 

It’s fair to say that as morning broke over the Isle of Anglesey, morale onboard Go Commando had dropped.

Although the crew always sound cheerful on the sat phone during their daily check-in with the race organisers, nine days of continuously slogging into headwinds was beginning to take its toll on their natural cheeriness.

But by this afternoon morale had taken a real leap. Those northerlies had dropped away and the wind is finally due to swing round to the south in the next day or so.

As the wind abated, rowing speed increased to around four knots and sometimes the Seagals even made six knots.

The all-female crew of Go Commando are now in the middle of the Irish Sea about 40miles west of Southport and a good 25 miles south of the Isle of Man in the Virgin GB Row 2010 Challenge to become the first women to row non-stop and unassisted around Britain’s coast.

It was then in the middle of nowhere the Seagals got their next morale boost. Mobile phones, which had been struggling to get reception off the Welsh coast, suddenly sprang to life.

A chance to speak to loved ones at home and to wish their dads a happy Father’s Day sent spirits soaring onboard.

On a perfect mobile phone signal, skipper Belinda Kirk, expressed the crew’s joy at making real progress today and the prospect of clawing back some of the time lost since Land’s End.

The sight of puffins, more dolphins and a seal frolicking around the boat, added to the feel-good factor.

Our thanks to Holyhead Coastgiard for their care watching over the Seagals as they made their way through the Irish Sea shipping lanes.

 


15.00 Sunday June 20
UPDATE
 

At last, the northerly wind has dropped and the Seagals finally lifted anchor and were able to make their way north out of the danger of west coast shipping lanes.

First, they ended up anchored in the lanes used by the Holyhead to Dublin ferries and, as they rowed north this morning, the Seagals then landed in path of Liverpool to Ireland shipping (see new blog from skipper Belinda, opposite)

At 1500, they were at anchor again just to the north of the shipping lanes.

With the wind forecast to drop away today before swinging around to blow from the south-west, the all-female crew of Go Commando will at last be able to head directly towards the Isle of Man and the west coast of Scotland.

In a brief sat phone conversation, the Seagals skipper Belinda Kirk revealed that the girls are determined to press on in their attempt to become the first women ever to row around the UK.

Despite frustrations that have seen them make only around 300miles in the last nine days, they are raring to make up for lost time in the Virgin GB Row challenge 2010.
 


13.00 Sunday June 20

UPDATE


Still at anchor…the Seagals are still waiting for the tide and wind to turn in their favour.

The all-female crew have spent the last few hours anchored north of Holyhead, just off the Isle of Anglesey.

Bev has just posted a brilliant blog about the crew’s love-hate relationship with the anchor.

Good news is that the constant northerly headwinds that have plagued the crew of Go Commando for the last ten days will swing round and blow from the south-west on Tuesday.
 


08.00 Sunday June 20
UPDATE

Another night of frustration for the Seagals in their attempt to become the first women ever to row around Britain.

The northerly winds that have blown constantly for nine days, since Land’s End, are hampering their efforts to reach the Isle of Man by Fathers’ Day – today.

With only 12 miles of progress over night, Go Commando is again at anchor – bang in the middle of the shipping lanes north of Holyhead.

There is good news on the horizon, the south-westerlies the girls have been praying for may well appear by Tuesday to aid them of their journey to the north of Scotland in the Virgin GB Row challenge.
 

 

BLOG from Angela on Go Commando for Father's Day, June 20th:

By Deb for Angela June 19, 2010

Wind! Always Rowing Against the Wind!

Angela called me from the All Roads Communications Satellite phone this morning to report that they were sitting on anchor in 20-25 knot winds. They could not make any progress when they tried to row, so they anchored. They are also without cell phone service where they are on anchor. They have not seen much in the way of sea life today. She did see a seal. He seemed to look at them as if they were crazy for being out in the wind.

The Haigh Lyon SeaGals change watches whilst they are on anchor. There is not enough room in the cabin for two people to sleep at a time; two are on deck and one in each of the respective cabins. On RowofLife, there is enough room for people to sleep on the deck, but on Go Commando, there is no deck space big enough to sleep in.

 

They also do chores whilst they are on anchor. They make water, wash clothes, and fix things they have broken. When they were on anchor and had cell phone service, Angela actually checked all her email, called people and checked her facebook.

Angela would like to wish her father, Ron Madsen a Happy Father's Day. The picture is of Angela and her parents in Hawaii last year.

 

Please keep your messages coming via email to news@gbrowchallenge.com or at VirginGBRow2010 on Twitter.

 

 

22.00  Saturday June 19 
UPDATE
 

The Seagals have made almost no progress at all today. In fact, at one point the girls were going backwards, as Laura explains in her latest blog on the right.

They are looking forward to a change in the weather, and the forecast says from Tuesday onwards there might even be favourable south westerly winds. We'll be keeping our fingers crossed even if the girls can't.

14.00  Saturday June 19 
UPDATE
 

Progress towards Holyhead continues to be tough and frustrating as Belinda reports in her blog opposite. Currently making almost no progress after a better run overnight.

09.00  Saturday June 19 
UPDATE
 

The seagals turned north across Caernafon Bay last night and headed towards Anglesey. They have covered some 20 miles overnight, despite battling against a constant headwind. They are currently at anchor awaiting a change of tide before they approach Holyhead and go round it on their way to the Isle of Man.

18.00  Friday June 18 
UPDATE
 

The Seagals have continued to claw their way up the northwestern coast of Wales in a headwind during the afternoon, as Belinda recounts in her blog (opposite). They are now at anchor awaiting more favourable conditions.

At least the girls are now some way past the point at which last year's attempt on the record by a team led by Nick Bevan was abandoned in order to rescue a light aircraft pilot who had ditched nearby in the sea in a storm. You can read the amazing story of this rescue in the Times here: part1 and part 2. (Links courtesy of the GBRow 2009 website)

14.00  Friday June 18 
UPDATE
 

After several hours at anchor at the top of Cardigan Bay awaiting a change of tide, the Seagals are back on the move and have just rounded the Lleyn Peninsula at the top of Cardigan Bay. They are now headed for Anglesey at around 4.5 miles an hour despite a northwesterly wind.

07.00  Friday June 18 
UPDATE

During a hard night of rowing, the Seagals made another ten miles towards the finishing line in their attempt to become the first women ever to row around Britain.

Still hampered by northerly headwinds, Go Commando is at anchor ten miles from the tip of Cardigan Bay and about 40 miles off Barmouth.

It is now a week since they turned the corner at Land’s End and in all that time they have been rowing into headwinds, which have frustrated their efforts to beat the 26-day men’s record set in 2005.

With 9mph winds on the nose today, rising to 17 miles an hour tomorrow, the Seagals are making a determined effort to reach the Isle of Man, the next major landmark in their epic 2,010 journey in the Virgin GB Row Challenge.

 

Latest messages from wellwishers:

Angela and Team!

Hi there Seagals. Wow - 1000 Nautical miles to go! Can you believe it! Getting down to the wire now, on the downhill slide, so to speak. I understand it is tough going, two mile increments, but you can do it! I am heading home to California from Hawaii myself tomorrow. I will think of you as I am crossing that big expanse of sea. All positive thoughts your way and the belief that you can do anything! Keep up the good work!

Lisa Barrett, Oahu, Hawaii

 

Please keep your messages coming via email to news@gbrowchallenge.com or at VirginGBRow2010 on Twitter.

23.00 Thursday June 17
UPDATE
 

The Seagals are on the move again, after more than six hours at anchor in Cardigan Bay, 40 miles off Aberdovey.

The all female-crew, rowing two at a time in three-hour shifts, are making their way towards Anglesey at 2mph. It could be another long night in the Virgin GB Row challenge.

They are now out of mobile range, so why not send a message of support to the crew, Belinda, Angela, Lara and Bev to us at news@gbrowchallenge.com and well pass on your messages to the girls on Go Commando.
 

 

18.00 Thursday June 17
UPDATE

 

The Seagals will be at anchor for another three hours or so, while the tide turns to help them make a run for the Isle of Anglesey.

They spent eight hours rowing across Cardigan Bay – and avoiding explosions from the Defence Evaluation and Research Agency’s firing range at Aberporth, near Barmouth.

DERA use this part of Cardigan Bay to fly unmanned drones as aerial targets for the RAF and the RN Air Arm to conduct missile and air flight weapon testing.

On a crackly satellite link, Go Commando’s skipper Belinda Kirk said: “We had to make a detour around the ranges but we could hear explosions of big bombs going off all around us!”

Now safely at anchor in choppy seas, the all-women crew are waiting to begin the next leg of their row around Britain to Anglesey, then on to the Isle of Man.

Belinda said: “It will take us 24 hours to get to the Irish coast and we don’t think there’s anything to be gained by that. We’ll keep pressing north.”

The Seagals will set a new world record by becoming the first women ever to row the 2,010 miles around the British mainland when they reach Tower Bridge in London, in early July.

By completing the Virgin GB Row Challenge, they will claim a £15,000 prize and become the first-ever winners of the Virgin Trophy. 

 

14.00 Thursday June 17
UPDATE
 

Hurrah! The Seagals are now a third of the way round in their incredible row around Britain's coastline.

Since leaving Tower Bridge on June 1 at the start of the Virgin GB Row, the all-girl crew have notched up more than 700 miles – much of it against headwinds.

They are rowing against a light north-westerly again today – at nearly four miles an hour.

Go Commando and her crew are nearly half way across Cardigan Bay – about 30miles off shore from Aberystwyth.

On the 17th day of their incredible journey, they are confident of finishing the challenge and winning the Virgin Trophy – before their rations run out!

Stats:
Go Commando

Total distance rowed: 712miles
Distance rowed yesterday 50.5 miles
 

 

08.00 Thursday June 17
UPDATE
 

The Seagals are using the anchor to conserve energy and wait for the tide to help them make good progress in their Virgin GB Row challenge.

Go Commando is now anchored in Cardigan Bay between Fishguard and Aberystwyth after managing to knock another 20miles off the total of 2,010miles around Britain’s coastline.

Headwinds are forecast again today but should remain light and allow the all-girl crew to complete the crossing of Cardigan Bay today and begin heading towards the Isle of Man.

In blogs yesterday, the girls revealed how disappointed they were that the men’s team were forced to retire but they are determined to continue and become the first women ever to row around Great Britain.
 

Latest messages from wellwishers:

Hi Beverley

Glad you are okay and doing so well. We have a look to see how you are doing every night and are so proud of you. Keep up the good work and good wishes to the rest of the team as well. Grandad was looking on site tonight and is amazed at what you are doing.

Love

Marilyn and Gordon

 

Please keep your messages coming via email to news@gbrowchallenge.com or at VirginGBRow2010 on Twitter.

23.00 Wednesday June 16
UPDATE
 

What a fantastic day for the Seagals! At long last the wind has dropped and allowed the all-women crew to work their way north along the Welsh coast.

Tonight the girls onboard Go Commando are rowing along at more than five miles an hour, about ten miles out from Fishguard and they have covered around 25 miles in the last 12 hours.

Earlier this evening, they took the decision not to cross to Ireland but instead to make their way to Anglesey and then on towards the Isle of Man in their valiant attempt to become the first women ever to row around Britain.

As well as making headway, Belinda, Angela, Laura and Bev were enthralled to discover as many as eight dolphins playing in the blue water around the 24-foot boat.

Log on to our YouTube channel for amazing footage from Go Commando shot on their Samsung Wave phones, kindly donated by Virgin Media.
 


18.00 Wednesday June 16
UPDATE
 

With well over 20 miles rowed so far today, the Seagals have taken advantage of a break in the weather to make up for lost time.

Currently at anchor off St David’s head, near Haverfordwest, the crew of Go Commando are waiting for the tide to turn before pressing on in light winds.

Will they make a dash for Wexford or cross Cardigan Bay towards the Isle of Anglesey? We wait with bated breath for their next move in their attempt to become the first women ever to row around Britain’s 2,010-mile coastline.

After several days of storms, the all-female crew have had a chance to enjoy warm sunshine and a spectacular display by dolphins swimming close to Go Commando’s 24-foot-long hull.

We have posted a spectacular photo of a dolphin taken this afternoon off the Pembroke coast on our blog section.

On our YouTube channel, there’s also new video footage taken on Belinda and Laura’s watch of dolphins playing near the boat, plus new video of Angela and Bev in rough seas off Cornwall.
 



14.00 Wednesday June 16
UPDATE
 



A morning of real progress for the Seagals on their attempt to become the first women to row around Britain.

As predicted, the northerly headwind which has caused them so many problems in the last few days abated this morning, allowing the Seagals to cover 23 miles in the last 12 hours.

In their 24-foot boat, Go Commando, the Seagals are currently at St David's Head on the north end of St Bride’s Bay, near Haverfordwest in Pembrokeshire.

The all-girl crew are still debating the big dilemma - whether, because of the drop in wind, to cross the Irish Sea or to carry on up the coast and seek the shelter of Cardigan Bay, a much longer route.

Skipper Belinda Kirk says they will make that decision shortly after consulting the weather oracle.

In a new blog (see opposite) posted from the boat, Belinda reveals how Go Commando was escorted by dolphins as the Seagals crossed the Bristol Channel.

We also have new video which will be posted on our YouTube channel shortly.

07.00 Wednesday June 16
UPDATE
 

Another frustrating night for the Seagals, who are currently anchored about 10miles from the Pembroke peninsula in south Wales.

During the last 12 hours they have managed to row just seven and a half miles. And during a spell with the sea anchor out, they went backwards for a couple of miles.

The northerly headwind that is causing them so many problems is due to drop this morning to one/three miles an hour.

This will give the all-girl crew some much-needed respite in their attempt to become the first women ever to row around Britain in the Virgin GB Row challenge.

That’s the good news. The bad news is that north winds are forecast in the Irish Sea until at least Sunday. 
 

22.00 Tuesday June 15
UPDATE
 

The Seagals are inching ever so slowly against the north wind towards the Pembroke peninsula and Haverford West.

There has been little communication from Go Commando during what must have been a frustrating day in which the girls made less than two miles progress in the last 12 hours.

So, it’s proving difficult to predict whether skipper Belinda Kirk and her crew will carry on up the Welsh coast or cut across the Irish Sea towards Wexford.

We’ll watch and wait – but Laura Thomasson left a clue on Facebook earlier today: 'Goodbye England, good morning Wales! Now on to Ireland!'

 

 

18.00 Tuesday June 15
LATEST
 

Struggling against strong spring tides, the Seagals are now at anchor 10 miles off Pembroke Dock near the western tip of the South Wales coast.

It is now just over 14 days since the start of the Virgin GB Row challenge, the toughest rowing race in the world.

The first-ever race to row non-stop and unassisted around Britain’s coast has been a rollercoaster ride for the Seagals, who are the only team left in the race. They have so far rowed more than 600 miles.

The crew of four remarkable women are currently battling exceptional tides and strong northerly winds to cross the Irish Sea before heading north to Scotland.

 

13.00 Tuesday June 15
UPDATE
 

With a north-easterly wind on their tail, the Seagals are rowing at more than 5mph along the South Wales coast on the 14th day of the Virgin GB Row challenge.

The all-female crew of four, who are attempting to set a world record by becoming the first women ever to row non-stop around mainland Britain’s 2010-mile coastline, are now heading towards the Irish Sea.

Since the race began in London on June 1, the Seagals have rowed more than 600 miles in their 24-foot-long ocean-going boat, Go Commando.

They were originally racing against a team of men, the Misfits, but their boat Orca was retired in Penzance yesterday.

 

08.00 Tuesday June 15
UPDATE
 

It’s exactly two weeks since the Seagals launched their boat Go Commando at Putney for the start of Virgin GB Row, the first-ever non-stop, un-assisted rowing race around the British coastline.


Since crossing the start line at Tower Bridge on June 1, the Seagals have rowed just under 600miles and for five days they have been battling against northerly winds, which have been hampering their progress.

Their rival, Orca, has withdrawn from the race but the Seagals are pressing on towards south Wales.

This morning they are anchored about 10miles form Port Eynon, near Swansea, waiting for the tide to turn to continue their journey to Milford Haven and on to southern Ireland.

Stats:
Go Commando:
Distance travelled so far: 583.4miles
Best day: June 3 – 76miles
Worst day: June 10 – 4 miles

Orca: Retired June 13
Distance travelled: 489miles
Best day: June 3 – 80miles
Worst day: June 12 – 1.3miles
 

Latest messages from wellwishers:

Please pass this message to Laura.

We all continue to be so proud of your achievement so far. Watching your video of how rough the sea and weather has been really brings it home what a massive thing you are all doing.

As always Lor we all love you so much, Lewis is watching your every move and couldn't believe seeing you all on TV. Large glass of champagne with your name on waiting for you,hope you can make Uncle Den's party.

Stay strong like your namesake.

Love always

Auntie Laura,Uncle Den,Jordan and Lewis xxxxxx

Please tell Angela to get enough caloric intake and moisturize when she can. Also, please let her know she and the other SeaGals continue to be in our thoughts. We hope all is well and ask for them to hang in there. You all are not alone. You all are so tough! I would have not made it very far with my motion sickness! LOL Thanks for the pictures and personal updates! :)

Stephanie

 

Please keep your messages coming via email to news@gbrowchallenge.com or at VirginGBRow2010 on Twitter.


02.30 Tuesday June 15
LATEST
 

The Seagals had a scare with a car ferry as they made their way towards south Wales, and the Irish Sea in their Virgin GB Row challenge to become the first women ever to row around the coast of Britain.

After leaving the safety of the bay near Bideford, Devon, the crew of Go Commando made their way north along the coast into the middle of the Bristol Channel near Ilfracombe and then turned west towards Cork in southern Ireland, before heading towards Milford Haven on the Pembroke coast.

The crew have managed to row neasrly 22 miles since leaving Bideford yesterday afternoon and, according to the latest blog from Angela (see opposite), they narrowly avoided being rammed by a car ferry….
 

 

Latest messages from wellwishers:

Dear Belinda and crew

May I wish you the best of luck for the continuation of your epic voyage. I will be thinking of you all the way. Saw you all on the Country File series.

Special Olympic Oath:

"Let me win, but if I cannot win let me be brave in the attempt'

I had the pleasure of meeting Belinda in 2002 during the filming of the BBC 999 film re the accident on Yacht Veritas in the BT Global Challenge.

Please keep safe,.................... Its only wind and water

Bon Voyage

Best wishes, kind regards

Stephen Fillery, Crew Yacht Veritas BT Global Challenge 2000

 

Hi Angela and team!

You are almost at the half way mark time-wise to the previous world record. YOU CAN BEAT IT! I know you can. Despite all the rough seas and inclement weather, you are doing fantastic. I am watching. The world is watching. We all believe in you. Keep doing what you are doing and you will beat that previous time!

Sincerely,

Lisa Barrett, Oahu, Hawaii

 

Please keep your messages coming via email to news@gbrowchallenge.com or at VirginGBRow2010 on Twitter.

 

17.00 Monday June 14
UPDATE
 

The Seagals spent the afternoon waiting for a weather window to try to head across to the south Wales coast to continue their world record attempt to become the first women to row around Britain.

And at 16.40 the wind had dropped enough for them to row out into the Bristol Channel to attempt the 50-mile crossing to Milford Haven, Pembrokeshire.

From there they will row across to southern Ireland before making their way up the Irish Sea towards Scotland in the Virgin GB Row challenge.

On Sunday evening they reached the relative shelter of a bay near Bideford, north Devon, to sit out a storm that blew up during the night.

Laura Thomasson has just sent in a gripping video showing how, even though they sought shelter, the Seagals were hit by 25-knot (28mph) winds and torrential rain. You can see the video here Laura's video blog.

Their tiny green and yellow 24-foot-long ocean rowing boat, Go Commando was battered by large waves as she anchored a mile from the shore.
 


14.00 Monday June 14
LATEST NEWS
 

As the Misfits were forced to pull out of the first-ever Virgin GB Row race around Britain, the remaining competitors, the Seagals, are now preparing to cross the Bristol Channel to south Wales.

After spending the night at anchor in a sheltered bay near Bideford, north Devon, the all-female crew are hoping to reach Haverford West in Pembrokeshire.

In a phone call to race organisor Chris Usborne, the Seagals’ skipper Belinda Kirk said: “We’re just about to set off to make our way for the Welsh coast, aiming for Milford Haven.

“If our progress is good we intend to push on to Ireland. We are still working against strong northerly winds, which we’ve found very tiring. Progress is slow but morale is good on board.

“All the girls are hugely disappointed that the boys were forced to retire after putting in so much effort and reaching so far in the race.

“We’re also disappointed because we enjoyed the cat and mouse tactics and we’ll miss racing the boys.”

Look out for more blogs soon from the girls on Go Commando as they attempt to go into the history books as the first women ever to row non-stop and unassisted around Britain.


NEW VIDEO footage of the Misfits boat, Orca, at Wolf Rock lighthouse has been posted on our YouTube channel. (link above)

10.00 Monday June 14
RACE ANNOUNCEMENT
 

Orca is out of the Virgin GB Row.
 

The organisers of the first-ever Virgin GB Row race around Britain’s coast, The Anglo-American Boat Club today announced that the men’s team The Misfits have withdrawn their boat Orca from the race.

This means that the all-female crew, The Seagals, who were leading by more than 80 miles, will be the only crew competing for the £15,000 first prize and the Virgin Trophy.

If the ladies’ team complete the gruelling 2,010-mile race in their ocean-going rowing boat, Go Commando, they will set a world record by becoming the first women ever to row around Britain’s coastline.

After spending nearly three days anchored at Wolf Rock lighthouse, nine miles from Land’s End, three members of Orca’s crew: Olly Hicks, Jack Jones and Dave Rowe decided that their attempt to beat the 2005 world record was no longer attainable.

They were taken off the boat, but owner John Mollison wanted to continue in the race on his own, rowing the remaining 1,500 miles to London by himself.

However, on his own John was unable to lift the anchor, which had become jammed in rocks on the sea bed, and he was given help by the crew of a local lifeboat, which was on exercise in the area, to free the anchor line.

As a result of the help given, Orca had breeched the rules of the race which state that Virgin GB Row is a totally unassisted challenge.

John Mollison said last night: “I’m disappointed to have to give up but this really is one of the world’s toughest events. It’s the ultimate endurance, combined with the ultimate test of skills.

“I wish the Seagals well in their attempt to become the first women to row around Britain.”

Blogs and interviews with Orca’s crew to follow…

wolf rock
Approaching Orca
Wolf Rock in the background 13-06-2010
 
wolf rock
Sea conditions made it a difficult approach
wolf rock
It took several attempts to transfer the team members one by one
wolf rock
 

Latest messages from wellwishers:

From Geoffrey Kamester:

Sorry to hear about Orca's withdrawal from the 2010 around Britain race, the elements just seemed to be against the team of 'Misfits' and I know Molly would have pushed as much as any other man on the Planet!! Unlucky guys.... and good luck to 'Go commando' the all girl team xx

 

From Catherine Stephenson:

Sad that the boys have given up. So come on girls you now fly the Help4Heroes flag. Keep rowing, I know you can do it!

Take care Xx

 

Hello from America!

I am sorry to see that the misfits had to withdraw. Even so, you gals were 80 miles ahead already! Great work! Awesome job gals... Now, the focus is on completing and beating the previous record. YOU CAN DO IT! No matter what, sit tall, you can do anything! I believe in you...

Hi Angela. GREAT GREAT GREAT work. I am so happy for you! Keep it up!

Mahalo,

Lisa Barrett, Oahu, Hawaii

 

Please keep your messages coming via email to news@gbrowchallenge.com or at VirginGBRow2010 on Twitter.

 

06.30 Monday June 14
RACE UPDATE

 

Race leaders the Seagals have sat out the night at anchor about a mile from the north Devon coast near Braunton.

They are waiting for a weather window, which will allow them to head across the Bristol channel to the Welsh coast, the next leg of Virgin GB Row their epic unassisted journey rowing around the coast of Britain.

They were sheltering in the lee of a headland from strong northerly winds, that were forecast during the night.

The wind has now dropped to 10-10mph but it is likely to blow from the north for much of the week.

The men’s boat, Orca is still 84 miles behind near Penzance.
 


22.00 Sunday June 13
RACE LATEST
 

Seagals safely at anchor north of Bideford in the shelter of a headland.

21.00 Sunday June 13
RACE UPDATE
 

Well done to the Seagals on their brilliant appearance on BBC TV’s Countryfile programme tonight!

If you have discovered the Virgin GB Row race around Britain as a result of the TV programme, you can monitor the girls’ progress over the coming weeks here.

The official race site charts their progress every day with race updates and the latest news.

Clicking onto the homepage map will show you exactly 24 hours a day, where their tiny 24-foot-long ocean rowing boat, Go Commando has reached.

You’ll find stats at the bottom of the map and if you click on the pink boat icon you will see their direction and speed of travel..

Tonight the Seagals have almost achieved their objective of reaching shelter near Bideford, in north Cornwall.

With strong northerly winds and heavy rain forecast for tonight, they needed to be inshore to get protection from the elements.

Their efforts in racing towards shelter mean they are now have a lead of more than 80 miles on the men’s team, the Misfits.

Their 27-foot-long trimaran Orca is currently moored off Penzance after spending three days at anchor off the Wolf Rock lighthouse, nine miles from Land’s End.
 

Latest messages from wellwishers:

From Lisa in Hawaii

Hey Seagals!

Aloha, from Oahu!

I am following you and you guys are doing great. Keep up the good work. I do hope you reach the river in time to shelter from the storm... Will be thinking about you.

Special hello to Angela!

Lisa

Please keep your messages coming via email to news@gbrowchallenge.com or at VirginGBRow2010 on Twitter.


 

17.00 Sunday June 13 RACE LATEST

 

The Seagals have now stretched their lead in the first-ever Virgin GB Row race around Britain’s coast to 68.10 nautical miles – that’s 78 landlubber miles!

The all-female crew in their yellow and green ocean-going boat, Go Commando, have built up their impressive lead in the world’s toughest rowing race as they made a dash for a safe haven to spend tonight.

With a storm forecast, they desperately need shelter from strong northerly winds that could easily blow them onto the north Devon rocks.

The Seagals are currently about 15 miles from the mouth of the River Torridge and are rowing at nearly five miles an hour.

If they don’t make their safe haven by nightfall, as Belinda explains in a blog opposite, the Seagals are facing their toughest night yet.

Their adventure, to win the Virgin Trophy, began 12 days ago at Tower Bridge in London where the crews met Virgin chairman, Sir Richard Branson.

The men’s team, the Misfits, are currently heading towards the sheltered water off Penzance.

To find out what Virgin GB Row is about go to about Virgin GB Row.

Both teams are rowing to raise funds for Help for Heroes, so let's see those donations rolling in please. Click to donate now.

Help for Heroes Founders Honoured

Congratulations from all at Virgin GB Row to Bryn and Emma Parry, founders of Help for Heroes. It was announced yesterday that Bryn and Emma have received OBEs in the Queen's Birthday honours list for their work in creating this great charity which helps servicemen and women wounded in action.

All funds raised through Virgin GB Row go to Help for Heroes. Please keep your donations coming in.

Read the full story on BBC News

Donate in support of Help for Heroes now: Virgin GB Row Donation page

15.00 Sunday June 13
RACE UPDATE
 

The mighty Seagals are now leading the first-ever Virgin GB Row race around the British coast by an astonishing 71miles.

The all-women crew are rowing at nearly three miles an hour off the north coast of Cornwall, near Bude. They have covered another 27miles in the last 12 hours in their ocean-going boat, Go Commando, in 15miles-an hour westerly winds.

Rowing in pairs, they are urgently trying to reach the shelter of the bay near Barnstaple as strong/possibly gale force northerly winds are forecast for tomorrow.

Look out for the Seagals on Countryfile on BBC1 at 7.30 this evening.

Presenter Jules Hudson spent a day training with the Seagals just before the race began at Tower Bridge on June 1. http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00stbj7

While the Seagals have been clocking up the miles, the Misfits in Orca were struggling this morning to free their ground anchor.

The all-male crew, the Misfits, had spent three nights anchored up nine miles from Land’s End, near the famous Wolf Rock lighthouse, waiting for northerly winds to abate so they could continue the race.

Orca, a 27-foor-long trimaran, owned by Falklands veteran John Mollison is currently about five miles from the fishing port of Newlyn, near Penzance.

 



05.30 Sunday June 13
RACE UPDATE
 

The Seagals have continued rowing along the north Cornish coast overnight. They are now just off Padstow and as Bev reports in her latest blog, they will be looking for somewhere sheltered along the coast to ride out the storm forecast for later today. Still with a comfortable lead over Orca which has not moved overnight, they have decided not to make a break for the Welsh coast across the open water of the Bristol channel.

22.30 Saturday June 12
RACE UPDATE
 

The Seagals have anchored for the night close to Newquay and it remains to be seen whether they decide in the morning that the weather is going to be favourable for long enough to make a break for the Welsh Coast.

Orca remains anchored on the landward side of Wolf Rock with the wind still unfavourable.

14.30 Saturday June 12 RACE UPDATE

The Seagals have plodded their way up the north Cornwall coast with dogged determination in the face of a direct headwind of some 15 miles an hour, and are now considering turning to head away from the coast and towards Haverfordwest across the Bristol Channel. The blogs from Bev and Belinda show what sheer hard work it is to make any progress in the recent wind conditions.

Meanwhile the boys remain frustratingly unable to progress against the same wind direction but higher windspeeds from their anchored position south of Lands End. With the added dimension of strong tides around Lands End there is little they can do until the wind drops or swings round.

 

05.30 Saturday June 12 RACE UPDATE

The Seagals weighed anchor from their shelter near St Ives at midnight and have extended their lead in the Virgin GB Row challenge to nearly 25miles.

Aboard their ocean-going boat, the all-female crew are rowing along the north Cornish coast at 1.5miles an hour.

They are currently near Portreath, about four miles from the sport where they spent the night at anchor in the shelter of a peninsula near Gwithian.

In her latest blog (opposite) Seagals skipper Belinda Kirk reveals she hopes to reach Padstow, 25 miles away, by this evening.

The men’s boat Orca, is still moored on a sea anchor about 10 miles out to sea from Land’s End, near the Wolf Rock lighthouse.

 


21.00 Friday June 11 RACE UPDATE
 

The Seagals have maintained their lead in the first-ever Virgin GB Row race around the British coast.

After breaking out from anchor in Mill Bay south of Land’s End they have worked their way steadily up the north Cornish coast in the face of a northerly head wind.

Tonight they are anchored in the lee of the promontory opposite St Ives. There is new footage on our YouTube Channel of the Seagals rowing past Land’s End and off St Ives, plus video of Angela carrying out repairs to the boat’s watermaker (see Angela’s blog, opposite).

The boys on Orca face their second night drifting on a sea anchor between Land’s End and the lighthouse at Wolf Rock, waiting for the wind to drop.

The wind speed is expected to fall away on Sunday when both teams should be able to make real progress.
 

Latest messages from wellwishers:

From Doyle Mills

GoGoGo!!!!!

You and the girls are really kicking ass! Keep it up. Normally I'd route for the men, of course, 'cause I'm a man! But I really want you to win!

Heard about the heartaches and headaches out there. Wild.

Just hang in there. We're all pulling for you!!!!

Doyle

 

From Peter Rowlands

John, Olly, Dave and Jack,

Heads up guy's you are all doing a great job and all on shore are proud of your achievements and fund raising. When morale is low and the sea state high dig deep and think of the finish and all the luxury that awaits you.

Best of luck

Pete Rowlands

 

Please keep your messages coming via email to news@gbrowchallenge.com or at VirginGBRow2010 on Twitter.

 


15.00 Friday June 11 RACE UPDATE

The girls in Go Commando are working their way along hugging the north Cornwall coastline against a wind which is virtually head on. They have nevertheless managed to travel 18 miles in the last 12 hours.

The boys in Orca have made less progress as you can see from Olly's blog on the left. At one point overnight they were actually ahead of the girls, but got caught up in adverse winds and began drifting backwards. They are now waiting for the wind to drop, having drifted some way out to sea where they are exposed to the full wind and the hazards of shipping traffic.

10.00 Friday June 11 RACE UPDATE

The girls in Orca have made a break for it and are now past Land’s End inching up the Cornish coast towards St Ives.

They are struggling against a strong north wind but after resting up in Mill Bay for 36 hours they have stolen a march on the boys on Orca, who are still at anchor.

The girls have now built up a lead of nine miles (8.2nautical miles) as the boys drift further out to sea.

New blogs just in from Laura and Belinda onboard Go Commando…(see opposite)
 

For latest messages from wellwishers, scroll down the page


09.30 Friday June 11 RACE UPDATE
 

Orca’s temporary lead is over…the tide has turned and the men’s boat has drifted back and Go Commando has regained first place in the Virgin GB Row race.

With 20-30mph northerly winds still blowing, both teams are seeking shelter in the lee of Land’s End, waiting for a break in the weather.

If you hadn’t noticed, the World Cup starts today in South Africa. In this clip from the News of the World, our sponsor Sir Richard Branson reckons the girls on Go Commando are rowing around Britain to escape the footie!
www.newsoftheworld.co.uk/sport/ other_sport/835579/BRANSON-BACKING-THE-UNDERDOG.html
 


06.00 Friday June 11 RACE UPDATE
 

After trailing in the Virgin GB race around Britain for nearly a week Orca has taken the lead overnight. 
 
While the girls on Go Commando have been snugly anchored in a sheltered cove just south of Land’s End, the all-male Misfits drifted nearly seven miles on their sea anchor – the tide taking them into the lead.

Zooming in to our tracker chart shows how Orca was carried by the tides off Land’s End and now has a lead of over three nautical miles on the Seagals.

With northerly winds still forecast at force four/five who will be first to venture out from the shelter of Land’s End to start the next leg of the Anglo American Boat Club’s Virgin GB Row challenge – the toughest rowing race on earth?

Look out for more blogs and videos from the crews during the day. 
 

Latest messages from wellwishers:

From Mylene Paquette

Go go girls! Don't let the guys go front of you! Keep going! I follow your journey from Canada! Keep having fun, you are making all the girls so proud of you ! xx Mylene

 

From Kathy Newman

OKAY, so how much further do you have 'til finish Woman?!?!?!

I hope the stars are bright at night and the Angels always close to lend a needed hand!!!

(Got this address from Deb and hope this is reaching you)

Am looking forward to tales of the Sea (and where you're going next!) and a couple of LARGE Thai pizza's with extra everything!

God's speed Woman! Keep the Faith!!! We're all routing for ya!!!

Take good, good care and put a move on, for cryin' out loud!!! We got a trip to San Francisco to take---ON LAND!!!

Hang tough, Ang!!!

XOXOXO

Kathy

 

From Aaron Moffatt

Keep the head up (at least above the waves) and keep on paddling!!!!

Dear Angela,

I am pulling for you here in the LBC. You keep on keeping on like you always do. You are fantastic and we are all thinking wonderful thoughts for you. It was my last day of teaching school for the year yesterday and last night was graduation. The student speaker was a very bright and fabulous gal. She stated that she had been looking for the answers to life. She went on that in her intensive search she had finally found it. It was in the back of a calculus textbook (where all the answers are). She said the answer was a fraction.. 2/7. The fraction 2/7 she went on to say was how most of us are leading our lives. We go on auto pilot for the five days of work and live only on the two days of weekend. She called on the class and audience to become whole people and live every day of their lives. Sitting here I can't think of a woman I know who is living every day more than you. Lady you are a whole number :)

Susan Carle, LBRA

 

From Marian and Frank

Hello Angela watch your progress every day. So proud of you and glad you could fix the electrical and water problems You Go champ.. Be safe regards Marian and Frank

 

Hi Molly,

Jeff kamester here..ex 59 guy ...was down south with 2 troop with the rest of the old cronies!! Dig deep mate... I spent 3 days on Exmouth beach hoping to see you pass and even called on my mates in the lifeboat station to check your progress! You are doing a phenomenal thing... once again.!!. and crack on with the good work safe in the knowledge that I am one of many, constantly watching your progress and cheering you on from our proud country.

Your effort and indurance is not in vain...as it may seem so during the hardest times,,, it is recognised and admired by us all. Well done to all on board.... and to the girls team (although if u loose you have to buy a Dombas Crate Of Beer!) ...god speed and hope that the tides and wind are kind to you all xx

Jeff Kamester

 

From Jill Nakano: for Angela

You go Angela!!!! Wishing all the best in this race and all the great things you are doing on the boat.

From Tiffany Corona: message for Angela

Angela - Just wanted to say Hi! Get home soon, my mom is lonely! From: Tiffany

 

From Jack and Hilary

I understand you have had a few challenges over and above the ordinary, but as always you have found a way to overcome them and keep moving. We are so proud of you! Keep up the Great Work. See you in Florida...... Love ur Littlest Brother, Jack

 

 

Angela,

We have yet to meet in-person. I work with Debbie, and just wanted to send some support via email. We are thinking of you, and wishing you the best. Hang in there, you can do this!!

 

We recognize your great addition to the crew and tell the SeaGals to hang in there too. We are sending good thoughts your way. I hope everyone stays safe and has some fun with what you love to do. :)

Think positively, find your center and be well out there!!

Stephanie

Please keep your messages coming via email to news@gbrowchallenge.com or at VirginGBRow2010 on Twitter.

 


19.00 Thursday June 10 RACE UPDATE
 

The two boats remain at anchor in adverse conditions just a couple of miles apart and will probably wait until first light tomorrow to recommence this gripping race round Britain's coastline.

The girls team skipper Belinda reported in a phone call that they were using the time to catch up on rest, eating and washing so that they restart in good shape.

With three quarters of the race left to run and difficult weather conditions forecast in the next few days, it's going to be a nail biting time ahead in the most challenging rowing race in the world.

Although the boats are static, there's a tide of messages flooding in from wellwishers:

From: John Maher, Subject: Orca

Good Afternoon,

I am a good friend of John Mollison on board Orca.

It was 28 years ago I was in the Falklands with Molly and this week we have been remembering the guys we left behind. It is also close to the time when Molly stood on the landmine that took his leg away.

He has been and is an inspiration to the many forces people who return home injured and unsure of how they will cope with life. He has done lots for the various charities related to the forces and deserves to be highlighted for his good work.

I have spoken to John a couple of times since the race started and follow it every day, good luck to both crews.

Brummie Maher

 

From Jimmey and Gina Wallace

Hi Dave and crew,

We�re keeping a close eye on your progress and keep checking the photos to ensure there are still 4 people in the boat, in case you�ve been chucked overboard due to your �legendary� sense of humour!

Well done so far, keep at it and we�ll see you in Scotland!

Big hugs,

Jimmy & Gina

 

From Edrich Jansen

Hi guys!

I just want to say good luck with the rest of your adventure! I can't imagine what you must go through and how tough it must be, mentally and physically. To Jack, I'm sitting next to your dad and we're following your progress very closely! I put a post on my Facebook to promote what you're doing and to spread the word. So now you've got a following from South Africa. Your dad is very proud!

All the best!

Edrich

 

From FlowerMonkey on Twitter:

Good evening. Sounds like a hard days rowing again but just remember the heroes. Thank you for posting pictures, http://t.co/BsXAld1

 

From Chris and Grace Dursley

My wife and I have been following the boats since day 1. We were delighted to see the challenge posed by the girls but have no doubt that the boys, now that they have caught up, will not allow such a lead to buiuld up again. We watched you go around Portland Bill (we live in Weymouth) and alerted the Coastwatch and Coastguard that the boys were 'stuck' there for a while. They responded by picking you up as you went into Lyme Bay.

So sorry that the girls are having electrical problems. Do hope they can be sorted out soon. We wish you all well and hope that no matter who "wins" you will all be winners in fact. A tremendous challenge worthy of ever mariner who has ever put to sea..

God bless you all.

Chris and Grace Dursley

Please keep your messages coming via email to news@gbrowchallenge.com or at VirginGBRow2010 on Twitter.

 

15.00 Thursday June 10 RACE UPDATE

The two boats in the first-ever Virgin GB Row round-Britain race are anchored near Land’s End.

The all-girl crew on Go Commando are sitting out the weather 500metres from the beach in a sheltered cove, about a mile south of Land’s End, where they can clearly be seen from the shore.

The men’s team onboard Orca are at anchor about two miles off St Levan after reducing the Seagals’ lead from 50 miles to just a couple of miles.

With winds on the north coast blowing from the north east at up to force five, the crews have decided to conserve their energy until the weather improves before pushing on towards the Irish Sea.

Both crews have rowed more 450miles since the race began at Tower Bridge on June 1. They are now more than two days behind the world record time set in 2005.
 

Tweet from: HeadStartHealth:
 

Fantastic effort! Will be following your progress with interest - let me know if there is anything we can do for you. Good luck!
 

13.00 Thursday June 10 RACE UPDATE
 

The men’s team in the first-ever Virgin GB Row Challenge are now less than four miles from race leaders, the Seagals.

Skipper Olly Hicks and his team on the trimaran, Orca, have pulled back the Seagals lead, which two days ago extended to more than 50 miles.

The Seagals, are currently anchored off Land’s End after venturing ‘round the corner’ this morning and heading straight into the teeth of a force five north-easterly wind. (see blog from Go Commando)

Skipper Belinda Kirk and her team decided to wait for the wind to drop or switch to a more favourable direction before attempting the next leg of the 2,010-mile race, heading north into the Irish Sea.

This delay has given the men’s team, The Misfits, the chance to catch up. Early this morning, they passed Lizard Point, the most southerly point in the race and are now rowing past Penzance at just under two knots.

They are now just 3.9miles (3.5nautical miles) from the Seagals.

On day nine, the race for the Virgin Trophy is back on…keep watching for regular updates from both boats.
 

MESSAGE BOARD

On June 1, Will Meldrum watched the start of the Virgin GB Row race from his office near HMS Belfast in London and he has become avid fan, following every twist and turn of the race and wanted to post a message of encouragement for the crews.

If you’d like to send a message to the crews, please email us at: news@gbrowchallenge.com  and we’ll post them on the site.

 

From Will Meldrum:

Having seen the two tiny boats leave from a rainy Tower Bridge last week, we’ve been reading the daily blogs and updates eagerly. Certainly not envious of the heavy weather you’ve been facing! Trust you can fix the boats and keep the race going. Good luck to you all and look forward to welcoming you back here in a few weeks. Impressive stuff.

 

11.00 Thursday June 10 RACE UPDATE

Seagals appear to have turned back to take shelter and anchor Go Commado in the lee of Land’s End.

A strong force 4-5 north-east wind is blowing along the North Cornish coast. The men’s team on Orca have closed the gap on the Virgin GB Row leaders to just 10.5 miles (9.2nautical miles).

 

 10.00 Thursday June 10 RACE UPDATE

 

The Seagals are trying to inch past Lands End into a stiff north-east wind, while the men on Orca are benefiting from a tail wind to cross Mount’s Bay at 3.5mph (3.05 knots).

The distance between race leaders - the all-women crew Seagals on Go Commando - and the men on Orca is now down to 20miles (17.46nautical miles).
 

Race stats:
 

Distance travelled since Tower Bridge on June 1
Go Commando 448.2 miles (389.5nm)
Orca 433.9 miles (377.1nm)
 

JUST IN....NEW VIDEO from GO COMMANDO

Check out new videos from Belinda and Bev on Go Commando shot on ther Samsung Wave phone at Land’s End on our YouTube channel at http://www.youtube.com/user/VirginGBRow2010
 

08.00 Thursday June 10 RACE LATEST
 

The Segals began rowing again at 07.30 after nine-and-a-half hours at anchor just south of Land’s End.
 The all-female crew on Go Commando will row round Land’s End and check out the weather and the state of the sea.

With north-easterly winds, force four to five predicted, they may decide to hole up in a cove on Cornwall’s north coast and sit it out until the wind drops and becomes more favourable for the next leg of their incredible 2,010-mile journey around Britain.

If they are forced to anchor, possibly for a couple of days, it will give them time to repair their water maker, which converts sea water into drinking water.

The water maker has not worked properly since a huge wave swamped the boat on Monday night.

Meanwhile the men’s team, The Misfits, on Orca have passed Lizard Point and are heading for Land’s End.
 

Go Commando’s lead is now down to around 25 miles.
 


06.00 Thursday June 10 RACE UPDATE
 

While the Seagals have been anchored at Lands End for the last eight hours, overnight the Misfits have been steadily clawing back the time they lost at the weekend.

The boys team in Orca have almost reached Lizard Point and are now only about 30 miles behind the girls team, whose lead at one stage extended to 64miles.

During the night, while the Seagals have been anchored in their 24-foot seagoing boat, Go Commando, a mile from Lands End, the men’s team, led by Olly Hicks, have used the easterly wind to cross from Plymouth to the Lizard at more than three miles an hour.

They are now three miles out to sea approaching Lizard Point, the most southerly section of the 2,010-mile Virgin GB Row Challenge - the first-ever non-stop, unassisted rowing race around the coast of Britain.

The Misfits' 27-foot trimaran will have a tail wind to help them cross to Land’s End but then as they turn north, hey will be heading into NE winds, predicted to reach force 4-5.

As the Virgin GB Row challenge turns north on day nine – the race is hotting up.

 

23.00 Wednesday June 9 RACE UPDATE
 

The Seagals are almost there! With the tide turned against them, the Seagals are anchored just a mile from Land’s End (see skipper Belinda Kirk’s blog, opposite).

The all-girl crew on their 24-foot-long ocean rowing boat, Go Commando, are hoping they can turn the corner and start heading north tomorrow before predicted bad weather hits, bringing 25mph northerly winds.

Meanwhile, the men’s team are still rowing across from Plymouth to the Lizard at over 3mph – hoping to close down some of the 50+ mile lead the Seagals have built up during the last couple of days.

Tonight, Orca and her crew are approx 20 miles from The Lizard and about 54 miles behind.
 

 


20.30 Wednesday June 9 RACE LATEST
 

The Seagals are battling valiantly to round Land’s End tonight. The all-female are currently rowing at over three miles an hour about a mile off the coast at Lamorna towards Land’s End – currently about five miles away.

The men in Orca are about 20 miles from the Lizard and still trailing the girls by about a day in the first-ever Virgin GB Row non-stop, unassisted race around Britain.

 

Is this the coolest out of office reply?
Anyone e-mailing Belinda Kirk, skipper of the Seagals receives the following reply:

Gone rowing around Britain: Sorry can’t answer email today. I’m currently somewhere off the coast of Britain in a 24ft boat. Will get back to you in July.
Cheers B

Bev Ashton’s father-in-law Les is asking Morrisons, where he works, to support the Segals with donations to the girls’ Help for Heroes Fund. Bev’s mum on law Angela says: “Go Commando is painted in Morrison’s colours!”
The whole family, especially Bev’s husband, Martin, are following every second of the race.

You can make a donation for the girls’ team – or the boys – on our donation page.
Donate

Check on who’s winning the race to raise cash by logging on to www.gbrowchallenge.com/donate.php

The boys were given a boost today by a £200 donation from the Lawrensons. Thank you.

A belated thank you to skipper Dave Male, Engineer Rory Bingley and AB Alan Davies, the crew of the SV Netley for their sterling work helping us with filming and press shots of the Misfits at Portsmouth.
Thanks, too, to James and Martin of JM Yachting for the use of their RIBS at Tower Bridge on launch day.





16.40 Wednesday June 9 RACE UPDATE
 

The Seagals are about 2 hours from turning the corner at Lands End. With a tide window which will close at around 19.30, they should just be able to make it in time if all goes well. If not, they will have to anchor up for a few hours until the tide turns again. It will be a close run thing...

But at least there's already some good news - well done to Angela for managing to sort out the swamped electrics and get the power back to normal.

11.26  Wednesday June 9 RACE LATEST

SEAGALS reach The Lizard! The girls on Go Commando this morning reached the most southerly point on their incredible 2,010 journey rowing non-stop and unassisted around Britain.
Seagals skipper Belinda Kirk said: “We’re delighted to see The Lizard and we expect to make Land’s End by this evening.

“But the first job when we get round the Lizard is to anchor up and repair our electrics.”

She revealed the 24-foot long ocean going boat was swamped two night ago crossing near Plymouth and the crew believe the electric may have been damaged.

Belinda said: “We were down to our second battery and switched everything off to conserve power. The only power we were using was on our safety equipment.” (More info will be included in Belinda’s next blog).

Meanwhile, the men’s team in Orca are more than 50 miles behind, off Plymouth, making good headway in strong swell.

 

06.45 Wednesday June 9 RACE UPDATE

 

As day eight dawned the Seagals had made steady progress rowing during the night and are now less than 20 miles from The Lizard, the most southerly point on their epic 2,010 mile race around the coast of Britain.

The all-female crew on Go Commando are expected to reach The Lizard around lunchtime and turn towards St Michael’s Mount and Land’s End.

The men’s crew on Orca are 56 miles behind in the Virgin GB Row race. The men, known as the Misfits, have passed Start Point near Salcombe, Devon and making good progress towards the Lizard.

The Misfits rowed 32 miles in the last 12 hours, while the Seagals who are in open sea about 10 miles off Falmouth have made 25miles in the same period.

The girls are now rowing at 3.3mph, while the boys on Orca have slowed down to 2.7mph

 

22.00 Tuesday June 8 RACE LATEST
 


The Seagals tonight extended their lead to 64miles in the Virgin GB Row Challenge.

As darkness fell, the all-female crew in their yellow and green ocean-going rowing boast Go Commando were about 25 miles from The Lizard, the most southerly point on the 2,010miles race around the coast of Britain.

They are hoping to pass Land’s End tomorrow and turn north into the Irish Sea.

Meanwhile the men’s team who spent most of today anchored in Tor Bay trying to avoid being blown onto the shore at Torquay were finally on the move again.

In their trimaran, Orca, the Misfits are now moving south at 2.6mph towards Start Point, ten miles away and they still have another 70 miles to go to reach The Lizard.
 
20.48 TWEET from FLOWERMONKEY: Sounds like you've all had a tough day's row. I hope you're rewarded by a fantastic sunset with good seas and weather for a safe night's row.
 

17.38 Tuesday June 8 RACE UPDATE - WEEK ONE
 


Seven days ago to the minute the two teams in the first-ever Anglo American Boat Race: Virgin GB Row 2010 challenge rowed under Tower Bridge at the start of a great adventure…to race non-stop and unaided around the coast of Britain.

One week after the starter’s klaxon sounded at HMS Belfast, the women’s team, the Seagals, are now heading towards Land’s End – more than 50 miles ahead of the men’s team, the Misfits.

With more than 350miles travelled since the start, the women on their ocean-going 24-footer, Go Commando, have built up a commanding lead and are currently around 25miles out from Falmouth, rowing against south-westerly winds and in heavy swells.

Tomorrow we expect the wind to swing to the south-east, the perfect direction for to help the ladies’ crew negotiate around Lizard Point towards Land’s End, the most southerly section of their epic 2,010-mile journey.

The men, meanwhile, are anchored close to the beach at Torquay waiting for the tide to turn and head 15 miles to Start Point, where they too will turn towards the Lizard.

Despite trailing by up to 65 miles at one stage, the men led by Atlantic rower Olly Hicks remain cheerful and determined to catch up before the race ends back at Tower Bridge.

Both teams are chasing a world record set in 2005 by a team of Grenadier Guards and civilian Will Turnage led by Lt Will de Laszlo, who dreamed of organising a race to try to break their record of 26 days 14 hours and 21 minutes.

At the moment the Seagals are more than a day behind the record pace. Key stages set in 2005 are now on our tracker map.

The team that manages to break the existing world record will win a £30,000 bonus as well as the Virgin Trophy, donated by Sir Richard Branson.
 
Official stats at 7 June 23.45:
Distance rowed from Tower Bridge

Go Commando 361.88miles
Orca 322.07miles



13.00 Tuesday June 8 RACE LATEST
 

The Seagals have increased their lead in the Virgin GB Row non-stop race around the British coast to 64miles!

They extended their lead over the men’s team in Orca, who are in Tor Bay.

The girls are approx 20 miles out from Looe in Cornwall, heading towards the next major waypoint at The Lizard.

 

06.00 Tuesday June 8 RACE UPDATE
 

Today it is a week since the two crews set out from Tower Bridge in the first non-stop rowing race around Britain.

As dawn broke this morning, the Seagals on Go Commando are still around 50 miles ahead but during the night the men’s team on Orca have managed to claw back six miles from the girls’ lead.

Go Commando is 10miles out from Plymouth Sound, heading for The Lizard. Battling against stiff south-westerly winds, they managed to travel about 14 miles in the last 12 hours.

The Misfits all male team in their trimaran, Orca, are close to the shore at Tor Bay, making their way south along the sheltered shore to Start Point, where they will trun south towards The Lizard and Land’s End.
 



23.00 Monday June 7 RACE UPDATE


Hit with headwinds and lashed by rain, progress today in the Virgin GB Row challenge, the first-ever non-stop rowing race around Britain, has been slower than either crew had wanted.

But at last the men’s team in their trimaran, Orca, have made progress across Lyme Bay and are about 10miles from Tor Bay, Devon. This evening the boys were travelling at over three miles an hour as darkness fell on their seventh night at sea.

Meanwhile, the ladies in Go Commando were heading towards Plymouth at just under two miles an hour but the Seagals still have a lead of over 50miles, built up when the boys were trapped at anchor off Portland Bill on Sunday.

The ladies team are now around 60 miles from The Lizard and they are expected to reach Land’s End during Wednesday.
 


18.00 Monday June 7 RACE LATEST

Both crews made steady progress this afternoon in the Virgin GB Row 2010, the first-ever non-stop rowing race round Britain.

The Seagals all-girl crew are still ahead by more than 50 miles in their ocean-going boat, Go Commando. They’re still hugging the Devon coast just past Salcombe, heading into the wind and travelling at 2.3mph.

Meanwhile the men’s team in their 27-foor trimaran are desperately claw back the miles they have lost. They are currently heading towards Paignton and Torbay at 1.7mph.

Positions:
1. Go Commando : Lead by 56.3miles Distance travelled in 12 hours 29.9miles
2. Orca: Distance travelled in 12 hours 18.9miles 

 

13.00 Monday June 7 RACE UPDATE

The Seagals have now passed Start Point and are heading for Land’s End, the next major landmark in the Virgin GB Row, the first-ever non-stop rowing race around the British coast.

At the moment the all-girl crew on Go Commando are two miles out from the coast, trying to take advantage of shelter from the wind of the peninsula at East Prawle.

The girls are travelling at just over two knots (2.8mph) and are still nearly 56 miles ahead of the boys in Orca.

Orca is now making good headway at 3.3mph west across Lyme Bay towards Dawlish, to ease the problem of head winds. It is now nearly four hours since they finally slipped their anchor at Portland Bill (see Olly Hicks’ blog opposite).

New photos from both boats have been uploaded on our new Photo page.


 

 11.30 Monday June 7 RACE LATEST

The boys on Orca finally managed to get free from their anchor after more than 24 hours held in the same spot off Portland Bill. They are now around six miles from the coast in Lyme Bay, heading towards Budleigh Salterton at 3.7mph.

But the female crew in Go Commando have now extended their lead in the Virgin GB Row race to more than 55 miles.

The Seagals are passing Start Point, near Salcombe, about three miles from shore and travelling at 3.4mph

lCheck out our new photos page, which has shots from the two boats. Many of the pics have been taken with the new Samsung Wave, donated one of our sponsors, Virgin Media.

 


09.00 Monday June 7 RACE UPDATE

At last, the Seagals can see land! After a day out of phone or internet contact, the girls on Go Commando have been able to send out blogs (see opposite) of their day in choppy seas crossing Lyme Bay.

With the men on Orca still trapped at anchor off Portland Bill, the girls have now built up a commanding 50-mile lead in the Virgin GB Row non-stop race around Britain’s coast, as they approach Start Point in Devon.

The men, led by Olly Hicks, are frustrated but not downhearted and they hope to be able to get back in the race today.
 

The Seagals are now concentrating on the next leg from Start Point to the Lizard and then on to Land’s End…

 

06.00 Monday June 7 RACE UPDATE
 

With the men on Orca still stuck at anchor off the Dorset coast, the Seagals have slowly extended their lead overnight in the Virgin GB Row non-stop race around the coast of Britain.

Buffeted by 20mile and hour winds the girls are now 45 miles ahead and they approach Start Point near Salcombe, Devon.

Progress in the night was slow but at least the girls have been able to make headway unlike the boys who are still waiting for conditions to improve so they can lift the sea anchor and resume racing.. 
 


23.00 Sunday June 6 RACE UPDATE
 

As the boys on Orca look like spending their second frustrating night at anchor near Portland Bill, the Seagals have carried on towards Start Point building up a 40-mile overall lead.
 

15.00 Sunday June 6 RACE UPDATE
 


After nearly five hours at anchor, the Seagals are on the move again, opening up their lead in the Virgin GB Row race to more than 33 miles.

The men in Orca have now spent around 16 hours anchored off Portland Bill, waiting for the tide to turn in their favour and the wind to drop.

The girls in Go Commando are heading towards Start Point near Salcombe before switching their course for the Lizard and Land’s End, approx 70 miles away.


 

15.00 Sunday June 6 RACE UPDATE
 

Orca delayed at anchor for 14 hours. The men�s team rowing around Great Britain have been unable to lift their sea anchor. Jack Jones and skipper Olly Hicks had to swim out 200 metres from the boat to free the anchor. (See Jack�s blog)

They are now waiting for the tide to turn around 1600.

1200 Sunday June 6 RACE UPDATE

Both teams are now at anchor, awaiting a tide change.

During a morning of crossing the mouth of Lyme Bay more than 20 miles out to sea, the Seagals extended their lead to 31.5 miles in the Virgin GB Row race.

The girls, Belinda Kirk, Angela Madsen, Laura Thomasson and Bev Ashton, are aiming to become the first women ever to row non-stop around the coast of Britain.

In the last 12 hours, the girls on their ocean rowing boat, Go Commando, clocked up 19 miles, when the men�s team on the trimaran Orca could only manage 2 miles, after becoming caught up in the tidal race at Portland Bill with anchor problems.

Will the boys be able to catch up before the next major way point at Land�s End?

1015 Sunday June 6 RACE UPDATE

Seagals lead by 30 miles
 

As the boys on Orca struggle with the treacherous tide at Portland Bill, the Seagals are now leading by 30 miles.

0800 Sunday June 6 RACE LATEST

Seagals 22 miles ahead!

 The Seagals gamble to cut across the mouth of Lyme Bay to Start Point near Salcombe appears to be paying off.

Overnight, the girls aboard Go Commando have increased their lead to 22miles, as the boys in Orca appear to have struggled against the raging tides at Portland Bill.

While the Seagals have travelled 23 miles in the last 12 hours, the men who call themselves the Misfits managed just 13 miles in the same time.

 

2200 Saturday June 5 RACE UPDATE
 

As darkness falls on the fifth day of the round Britain rowing race the girls team Seagals have increased their lead during the day to 13.9miles. They have covered 35 miles during the day while the boys team the Misfits covered 32 miles.

After passing the difficult tides around Portland Bill earlier this evening the girls have now started a long slog of nearly 50 miles straight across Lyme Bay towards the next waypoint at Start Point.

The boys team are still close to Portland and it remains to be seen whether they adopt the high risk straight line route or choose to hug the coast with less exposure to weather but a greater distance.

1800 June 5 RACE UPDATE

The Seagals have stayed in front for the whole day as the Virgin GB Row race around the British coastline continued along the south coast towards Portland Bill, and the most treacherous tidal waters in that part of Britain.

The girls in Go Commando, still hugging the coast, managed to extend their lead to nearly 12 miles over the men in Orca, as they approached Weymouth on day four of the most gruelling rowing race in the world.

Morale on Orca was boosted during the afternoon when a new member joined the crew - a racing pigeon that hitched a ride and set up home on the 27-foot trimaran as the men desperately tried to catch up with the Seagals.

1300 June 5 RACE LATEST

The girls in Go Commando have increased their lead to more than 10 miles over the all-male team in Orca, as the Virgin GB Row race approaches the fastest tidal waters on the south coast.

The Seagals used the tide to row an amazing 42.28miles in the last 12 hours, while the boys on Orca have managed to make just over 31miles in the same period.

Seagals� skipper Belinda Kirk reveals in her latest Captain Kirk�s log (opposite) that the crew of Go Commando are going for the shortest route to Salcombe, Devon, by heading out to sea across the mouth of Lyme Bay.

0900 SATURDAY June 5 RACE UPDATE


The Seagals aboard their 24-foot ocean rowing boat, Go Commando, have extended their lead in the Virgin GB Row non-stop race around Great Britain to nearly nine miles over their male rivals in Orca.

As they approach Swanage, the all-female crew are making seven miles an hour, while the men’s team, the Misfits, in their 27-foot trimaran are doing five miles an hour.

Morale is good aboard both boats as they head for the most powerful tidal water on the south coast, at Portland Bill.

 
Seagals entering Solent
The Seagals entering the Solent on Friday evening - shot taken with the Samsung Wave

0600 SATURDAY June 5 RACE UPDATE
 

As another beautiful day dawned, the Seagals have increased their lead to around six miles in the Virgin GB Row non-stop race around Britain’s coast.

Their gamble to take advantage of the strong tides in the Solent paid off and the girls in their boat Go Commando are now approaching Bournemouth.

The boys in Orca went south of the Isle of Wight and are now about ten miles west of Ventnor.
 

2100 FRIDAY June 4 RACE LATEST

Good video of the Seagals on BBC TV South in Portsmouth tonight. We will try and get the footage onto our site.

Meanwhile, the Virgin GB Row race is turning into a north v south battle, with the girls in Go Commando just ahead going through the Solent, while the boys in Orca are heading south of the IoW.

Look out for the girls hugging the coast, while the blokes head out to sea to attempt to cut off the corner to Land's End. The race is hotting up, folks! And we're not just talking about the weather... 

1800 FRIDAY June 4 RACE LATEST
 


LOOK OUT FOR THE GIRLS ON BBC SOUTH TV news at 6.30pm tonight

Three days completed at sea and it is still almost neck and neck. The Seagals are less than a mile ahead after opting to go north of the Isle of Wight and go through the Solent.

While the boys in Orca are going to the south of the island.

Both teams have upped their speed as the tide begins to ebb in their favour.

Race positions at 1800
Go Commando: 1st place. Speed 5.1mph. Distance travelled in 12 hours: 36.3miles
Orca: 0.8 of a mile behind – speed 5.46mph. Distance travelled in 12 hours:33.5miles


 

1500 FRIDAY June 4 RACE UPDATE
 

The girls on Go Commando have overtaken the men’s team and opened up a lead of nearly four miles in the Virgin GB Row race off the south coast.

The men’s team, the Misfits in Orca, appear to be at anchor five miles off Selsey Bill, while the Seagals are making 2.5mph following along the coast towards the Solent.

Race director Chris Usborne, aboard a Royal Navy pilot boat that caught up with the girl’s team reported the Seagals were in very good spirits, enjoying the good weather.

They had just navigated through the narrow sea channel at Selsey Bill against the tide but were still making headway.

 

1300 FRIDAY June 4 RACE UPDATE


The Misfits are still leading the Virgin GB Row non-stop race around Britain’s coast.

But as the two boats approach the Solent, the all female crew, the Seagals, who were hugging the coast near Bognor Regis were rowing faster at 4.36mph.

About 10 miles to go to the Isle of Wight! The boys look to be heading to the south of the Island, while the girls are going through the Solent.
 
06.30 Friday June 4 RACE UPDATE

Another glorious day with a tail wind allowed both crews to make good progress through the night. Orca just ahead of the girls in Go Commando.

A boat of wellwishers is due to cheer on the crews in the Solent this afternoon.

22.00 Thursday June3 RACE UPDATE

As night falls for the third time in this amazing Virgin GB Row race, non-stop around the coast of Great Britain, the men of the Misfits t eam maintained their lead in the trimaran Orca.

They managed to stay just over a mile ahead of the Seagals in their boat Go Commando as the race, still in perfect conditions, progressed along the south coast towards Brighton.

Tomorrow the delights of the Solent, where both teams underwent training in the last week or so�

17.38 Thursday June 3 RACE LATEST

Exactly 48 hours after the Virgin GB Row race started in London, the crews are almost neck and neck as they approach Beachy Head.

With a tail wind, the men's team on Orca stayed ahead for most of the afternoon but the ladies on Go Commando cut the lead back to just over half a mile. Glorious weather helped keep spirits up on both boats and the crews faced their third night at sea.

15.00 RACE POSITION: Orca take the lead.

Orca 1st place. Speed 4.76mph - distance travelled in last 12 hours 46.93miles

Go Commando 0.9mi behind. Speed 3.98mph - distance travelled in the last 12 hours 41.48miles

Trailing the ladies' team for more than 12 hours, the men in their trimaran, Orca, snatched back the lead as Virgin GB Row 2010 approached Hastings.

Taking advantage of the tail wind, Orca headed further out to sea to cross Rye Bay and closed a gap of nearly three miles between the two boats and by three o'clock had opened up a lead of almost a mile.

13.30 RACE POSITION

Orca were closing in on the girls in Go Commando as they approached the Military firing ranges at Lydd near Dungeness. With a tail wind and a choppy sea, the Misfits in Orca had reduced the ladies' lead to around 1.5miles.

Dave Richard from the firing range reported that Go Commando was safely clear of the ranges in Rye Bay and that the guys on the range would 'hold their fire' until Orca was also well clear of the ranges, where the MoD test weaponry by firing out to sea.

Thanks to Dave and his colleagues for their help and support.

UPDATE 09.41am RACE POSITIONS

Go Commando 1st place - off Folkstone - speed 5.7mph. Distance travelled in the last 12 hours 34 miles.

Orca - 4 miles behind - speed 4.96mph. Distance travelled in the last 12 hours 33.37miles

08.00 MORNING UPDATE

Anchoring for a short while off the coast near Laura Thomasson's home village of Kingsdown, Kent, the Seagals were in the lead through the busy shipping lane outside the port of Dover.

The girls' boat, Go Commando, has now passed the white cliffs of Dover and are as much as five miles ahead of the men's team in the Virgin GB Row 2010 race around Britain, which began two days ago at Tower Bridge.

The boys' team in Orca are currently navigating across the mouth of Dover harbour, as cross-Channel ferries power their way towards them.

John Mollison revealed it had been slow going in very choppy water throughout the night. Orca had been forced to stay out to sea in the heavy swell, rather than risk going too close to shore in darkness.

With a sunny day forecast and light easterlies, both teams again have the perfect weather to keep up a cracking pace along the south coast. Morale is high on both boats.

02-06-2010 RACE UPDATE

23.15hrs Wednesday SEGALS OVERHAUL THE MEN OF ORCA TONIGHT

A slight navigation error led to the Seagals spending two hours stuck on a sandbank off the Isle of Sheppey this morning, which allowed the men in Orca to overtake them and build up a lead of around three miles.

Using the time sensibly to rest, repair kit, dry out their waterproofs from yesterday, and work out a handover for navigation when rowing shifts change, the girls waited for their 24-foot-long boat Go Commando to re-float on the flood tide and gave chase towards Margate at about 2pm.

At around 5pm, the girls had spotted the men's 27-foot trimaran about a mile ahead and by 10pm the Seagals, who were off Ramsgate had taken the lead by just over a mile.

Tomorrow, with the weather again predicted to be sunny and calm, with a favourable north-east wind, the two crews will enter one of the world's busiest shipping lanes - the Straights of Dover.

02/06/2010

10.00AM Wednesday: Orca Takes Back the Lead

As the tide turned off the Kent coast this morning, the men's team on Orca used the ebb tide to haul back the three mile lead gained by the Seagals in Go Commando and took the lead near the mouth of the River Swale.

02/06/2010

07.30 Wednesday: Seagals Pass the Isle of Grain

With Laura and Angela at the oars, the Seagals in Go Commando were passing the Isle of Grain in the Thames estuary at 0730 today.

Bev, resting after her two-hour stint, revealed that at one o'clock in the morning the girls had received a visit from the harbourmaster's boat from the Isle of Sheppey.

Says Bev: 'According to his radar, at that time we were 2.8miles ahead of the boys. It was nice see a cheery face in the middle of the night!'

She added: 'It's great to be settling into a rhythm and we're pleased with the way the first night went and we're looking forward to getting out of the river and making good progress down the coast.'

0700 Wednesday June, 2, 2010

07.00 Wednesday: LADIES PULL AHEAD IN THE THAMES

The ladies in Go Commando were up to three miles ahead as the two teams in the first-ever Virgin GB Row race approached the mouth of the Thames this morning.

News From the men on Orca:

On Orca the men rowed in two hour spells with an hour spent steering and an hour's rest.

As both boats went under Tower Bridge the official start time was logged as 5.38pm. After Tower Bridge the men in Orca pulled ahead with Dave Rowe and John Mollison rowing.

With light rain falling and low cloud dramatically cutting visibility on the River Thames, by Wapping Reach, the men, led by Atlantic rower Ollie Hicks, had pulled 30 metres ahead.

Millenium Dome

But by the bend in the river Greenwich the ladies in Go Commando, with Laura Thomsson and Angela Madsen at the oars, began inching ahead and as they went though the Thames barrier at Woolwich and into the mist, the girls were more than a mile in front.

Thames Barrier

The boys on Orca had stopped for a short while to adjust the webbing nets on either side of their 27-foot trimaran, which were hampering the oars.

Jack Jones on Orca said this morning: 'The girls just pulled away. During the night we settled into a good routine but in a busy river like the Thames we need to have one crew member on the rudder while two row. Two hours rowing, one hour steering and an hour's rest.

'We made about two knots rowing with the tide against us and we're waiting to take advantage of the ebb tide to take us out of the Thames.'

The weather forecast for today is good - 22degrees with light north-east winds. Perfect for the next stage of the race from the mouth of the Thames down the Kent coast to Dover - with just under 2,000 miles left to row...

01/06/2010

17.40 Tuesday: ANGLO AMERICAN BOAT RACE: VIRGIN GB ROW 2010 GETS OFF TO AN OARSOME START

Tower Bridge

1730 BST Tuesday June 1 2010 Holly Branson, daughter of Virgin Group Chairman, Sir Richard Branson dropped the flag under starters orders and dark grey rain clouds from Tower Bridge, on the river Thames, so two rowing teams − a crew of four men and a team of four women, aged between 23 to 50 − set off to row non-stop, without assistance for 2,010 miles around the treacherous waters of mainland Great Britain to win the Virgin Trophy and up to �45,000 in prizes.

Please make a donation for either the men's team or the female crew by clocking on the donations link. All donations go to Help For Heroes.

Virgin Sponsoring World's Toughest Rowing Race

VIRGIN are to sponsor the first-ever rowing race around Britain's coast.

Next month two crews will row non-stop 2,010 miles around the treachourous waters of mainland Britain to win the Virgin Trophy and a potential �45,000 prize.

Anglo American Boat Race: Virgin GB Row 2010 is men versus women − in aid of Help For Heroes. The rowers are hoping to raise �250,000 for the injured servicemen's charity.

On June 1, the two teams − a crew of four men and a team of four women aged 23 to 50 − will set off from Tower Bridge in London and attempt to row non-stop and unaided around Britain.

They will face some of the most treacherous tides, and the busiest shipping lanes in the world, plus Britain's notoriously unpredictable weather. According to ‘World Rowing’ journalist, Melissa Bray, this is 'the hardest rowing race in the world.'

The first team to return to Tower Bridge will win �15,000 and claim the Virgin Trophy.

Only one crew has ever before rowed non-stop around Britain. In 2005 they endured Force eight gales with 50-foot waves and almost being capsized by a freak wave in the North Sea to complete the 2010-mile journey in an incredible 26 days − a world record.

If the winning GB Row team breaks that world record during the 2010 Anglo American Boat Race they will receive a �30,000 bonus.

The losing boat will collect �6,000 on passing the finishing line on the River Thames in London.

And if the female crew, known as the Seagals, complete the amazing journey they will set a new world record by becoming the first women ever to row around the UK.

The crews are not allowed to receive outside help or stop in ports. They will carry all their food for the journey and use a special on-board water maker that turns seawater into drinking water.

The battle of the sexes will begin on June 1 when the two crews set off from London's historic Tower Bridge.

Virgin Group's chairman, Sir Richard Branson, will meet the crews aboard HMS Belfast on the morning of the race, and the race will be started by Sir Richard's daughter Holly Branson at 5.30pm, when the tide ebbs.

Seagals at Gosport
Two of the Seagals in training

The Seagals all-female crew, which includes a 23-year-old Royal Navy nurse, a film maker, a wheelchair-bound grandmother and an IT support manager, are currently training in the Solent in their 23-foot-long boat, Go Commando.

While the all-male crew, led by experienced ocean rower Olly Hicks, have been putting their boat, Orca, through its paces in the Humber estuary.

Anglo American Boat Race: GB Row 2010 is even tougher than rowing across the Atlantic, according to adventurer Oliver Dudley, who rowed the Atlantic in 2008. His attempt to row around Britain last summer was abandoned because of atrocious weather in the Irish Sea.

He said: “There is no doubt about it, rowing around the UK is harder by far than rowing the Atlantic. Around Britain is much more dangerous with treacherous tides and�unpredictable weather.

“On my attempt last year we were almost mown down by a tanker. It was the scariest moment of my life and then you have the danger of hitting the land."

Virgin's chairman Richard Branson is delighted to contribute to the prize fund and to donate the Virgin Trophy for the 2010 race.

He said: “At Virgin we love to encourage people to take on challenges and we're delighted to be able to offer the Virgin Trophy as a prize in this amazing race, where the rowers will face the most incredible challenges to reach the finishing line.”

The race has been set up by the Anglo American Boat Club, whose president is William de Laszlo, skipper of the team that set the round-Britain rowing record in 2005.

He said: “We're delighted Virgin have agreed to be lead sponsor for this great adventure.

“The �30,000 bonus on offer will certainly spur both crews to try to set a new world record but they face the some of toughest conditions a rower will ever endure. It will test both crews to the limit.”

Virgin GB Row 2010 is the prequel to a much bigger race to be held in 2011. As many as 20 teams have already expressed interest in racing around the UK next summer.

Posted: 26/05/2010

Trimaran Orca replaces Amazing Grace in GB Row 2010

Posted: 05/05/2010

The organisers of the Anglo American Boat Race - GB Row 2010 today approved the replacement of Amazing Grace with ORCA, a trimaran with open water stability proven in a recent transatlantic row.

The Event Organiser commented “the inclusion of ORCA at this late stage is great news for the race, raising the level of competition and adding an exciting new challenger to the lineup. With less than four weeks to go to the start, the scrutineers will of course be making sure that ORCA and her crew are every bit as ready to race as the other teams and we look forward to an exciting and challenging race.”

New Faces on the Organising Team

The organising team for GB Row 2010 is expanding rapidly. We are happy announce two new additions to the team plus an old favourite who will take centre stage on launch day, June 1, 2010:

Mike Ridley - media man. Mike has kindly agreed to manage and oversee the media coverage for the AABR - GB Row 2010.

He will be contacting all boats shortly to set a date to meet up and get some valuable video footage of the crews and their preparations, plus photos for our press library. He and his team will also be interviewing all the competing rowers and asking questions, such as "Why are you doing this?" and "Do you understand the risks?" He is also a key player in the AABClub organisation.

Contact Mike Ridley and the GB Row 2010 media office at:

Mobile 07836 376 943 - Landline 01474 85 45 45 - e-mail News@gbrowchallenge.com

Phil Pring - is a boat builder and Atlantic rower, he has kindly agreed to become our independent race scrutineer for 2010. Phil has a Bsc in Sports Science and an MSC in Psychology - so there will be no pulling the wool over his eyes!

His expert boat knowledge and recent Atlantic Row experience will enable him to give crews valuable advice and help to ensure they are ready and safe to start the race on 1st June.

Phil will be contacting boats very shortly to discuss availability for scrutiny. He will also fit a marine tracking device in the same visit.

And who is the old favourite who is a central member of our team? Why, it's:

HMS BELFAST berthed on the Thames about 200 metres upstream from the start line - Tower Bridge. The Imperial War Museum, who own the ship which is now a top tourist attraction in London, has kindly agreed to host families whilst boats conduct finals before the start. Families and friends are invited to wave farewell to "their" boats from the Quarterdeck of the ship when the race starts at approximately 17:30 on 1st June 2010 (which is when the tide turns to ebb and clear water is achieved under Tower Bridge).