This year's race, formerly known as the Woodvale Challenge, will be the only the seventh race ever held across the Atlantic. While routes, destinations and boats used have changed from race to race, the challenge of just completing a crossing is as arduous as it always has been. Spending up to four months alone rowing the 2500 nautical miles in a 20ft boat is not something many people sign up for. With only 85 people having ever completed a solo crossing with a further 75 attempts unsuccessful, it is also something that not many people achieve.
The race begins from La Gomera, Canary Islands on 4th December 2011 and will finish at Port St. Charles, Barbados. That makes the total distance 2933 miles (4720 km) (2549 nm). The crossing will take between 60 and 100 days to complete during which all competitors must be fully self-sufficient, carry everything they need from La Gomera to make it across.
For some perspective on the length of the row:
- it is longer than both the length and breadth of Australia,
- almost the same distance as the breadth of the USA,
- about 500 miles further than London to Timbuktu!
Whilst the race is no longer known as the Woodvale Challenge, it is still very much run by the company with no change to the high safety standards and scrutineering that has occured in previous races.
The high success rate of entrants in the Woodvale races to complete an ocean row is quite astounding given the nature of the sport. With all entrants completing the crossing in the 2009/2010 race, this is credit to the safety standards set by Woodvale for all those taking part. With strict scrutineering before leaving La Gomera, along with mandatory safety equipment, every boat is as prepared as possible for the journey.
The race is set up for entrants in three classes- solo, pairs and fours. Entrants come from all walks of life and all ages, looking to take part in that truly once in a lifetime experience of rowing an ocean. While still such a new phenomenon to endurance expeditions, with more people summiting Everest every year than that have ever completed an Atlantic Ocean row, Woodvale have moulded a market where ordinary people can achieve extraordinary things. Through these races Woodvale has developed a unique way of offering that once in a life time trip that pushes people to their limits both physically and mentally.