Day 20 – Are we nearly there yet?

As the crews approach the halfway point it seem inevitable that they will start the ‘arrival game’ of when they might arrive in Barbados. So let’s look at the reasons why the crews will give themselves a headache trying to work out this tricky noodle scratcher.

The total distance in a straight line for the route from start to finish is 2609nm. So we could consider halfway to be when the crews have 1304.5nm remaining. But, the second half is likely to be faster than the first half of their trip because:

  • The boats will undoubtedly be lighter and therefore easier to pull through the water after the crews have eaten their way through nearly three weeks of ration packs.
  • The weather is more favourable at these lower latitudes and after fighting their way south since leaving Gran Canaria we can expect these wind patterns to speed them up in the second half of the row.
  • The crew are now fully accustomed to their environment and sea sickness will be a distant memory.
  • The last day especially is likely to be faster as the crews put down some big strokes to get to land asap and empty the tank.

But the second half may be slower because:

  • The crews will have probably lost significant muscle mass, as their bodies consume whatever energy source is available to fuel their 12 hours of rowing a day. This makes them weaker and less able to push the boat as hard as they would like.
  • There is greater chance of equipment failing the longer they are at sea.
  • There will be an increasing amount of barnacles and other growth on the hull, increasing friction and slowing the boat down.
  • They must be more precise with their course as they approach Barbados. After they started, literally any direction which wasn’t back towards Gran Canaria was broadly acceptable. As the approach Barbados they have to hit a very narrow corridor to avoid risk of being blown offshore or being rolled in the pumping surf of the north shore. This need for exactness will likely slow them down.

In trying to work out the benefits and hinderances of all of these elements it’s likely that you may go cross eyed.

A good rule of thumb is to double a crews time taken to halfway and take off a couple of days. But there are so many factors which play into this that if you’re thinking of flying out to Barbados then you should wait as long as possible before doing so and then book your flight a few days before your earliest calculated likely arrival time. You don’t want to book your flight to maximise the amount of time you’ll be with the crew in Barbados only to have them speed up and arrive before you.

So maybe it’s best not to overthink things too much, enjoy following the boats on the tracker and start planning the parties for when the rowers return.

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