Fortitude IV – preparing mentally to row the Atlantic
In 2019 we were extremely delighted, and proud, to lend our support to a team of four friends who set themselves the tremendous challenge of rowing the Atlantic Ocean.
Giving themselves the team name Fortitude IV as they signed up for the annual Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge, they faced the daunting task of preparing their health and wellbeing to row 3,000 miles non-stop and unaided across the toughest of oceans. More people have reached the summit of Everest than have successfully rowed the Atlantic Ocean.
They went on to not only win the 2019 race, but also break a Guinness World Record and raised over £250,000 for their chosen charity West London Zone.
Ahead of Mental Health Awareness Week, 10-16th May, they spoke to Wellbetter about the mental challenges they faced as they prepared for and undertook the race – and how they overcame them.
Part one: Preparing to Row the Atlantic Ocean
The friends had never rowed before, so the challenge to train and prepare to spend over a month at sea was always going to be a tough one.
As they took advice from sports training professionals it soon became clear that whilst the physical struggles would be all too obvious, the mental ones that they hadn’t necessarily thought about, would be just as difficult.
Early on they all agreed that they’d let each other know if they were finding it mentally challenging, and not keep their feelings to themselves. Knowing they could speak to each other about uneasy feelings and struggles, meant they’d be able to support each other as a team.
Part two: Life on the water, racing across the Atlantic
When you’re in the thick of any challenge you reach the point where the mental struggle becomes real. When that challenge involves weeks at sea battling high waves and tropical storms, it begins to take its toll on even the most prepared professional athletes.
Whilst you can see the physical impact of rowing the Atlantic Ocean, such as blisters and sores, you can’t see the mental impact. To get through and come out the other side, a strategy was needed to ensuring everyone in the team had the support and tools to manage their mental health – knowing that the storm will pass.
Anyone looking for the right support to start their journey to improving their mental health: