INTREPID ocean rower Elaine Theaker and her four Flyin’Fish crew mates have been battered by horrendous waves over the last few days after a near-week wait on the para-anchor to replace their lost rudder.
But despite ‘a bucking Bronco of a boat’ in the middle of the Pacific, the Monmouth Rc rower from Abergavenny has managed to pen a humorous poem revealing how she used her padded bra to stop the tiller from jarring!
The five rowers left Monterey Harbour in California just over three weeks ago in a bid to row 2,800 miles to Hawaii, in what is described as ‘the World’s Toughest Row’.
And as well as Atlantic crossing veteran Elaine, who celebrated her 60th birthday on board two weeks ago, the crew includes retired RAF serviceman Huw Carden From Dingestow.
A post about their days-long battle with ‘mountainous’ seas by Hampshire crew mate Andy Warner describes: “(Another) wild and wicked night… The team continues to have the Pacific throw everything at them; wind, waves, fish.”
He describes how 20-knot winds and giant waves “hit us like a train” sideways on, knocking them repeatedly off their rowing seats.
“Crosswind rowing, better known as torture. We at Flyin’Fish have had this form of perjury for a few days now and it’s beginning to fray nerves
“We seem to be fully engaged for a battle to save the boat getting bombed by waves on the starboard side... it’s (been) a full five-day immersive ride as the sky was pitch black, no moon… just the boat bucking all around and whole waves smashing straight into your face.”
“Four times (tonight) I was thrown off the seat by them ... and conditions worsened... there was a tempest raging... a bucking Bronco of a boat
“It’s physically very demanding hauling what suddenly feels like the Titanic through the water, and currently we are in mountainous waves,
“Being to beam trying to make a course is at best going to get you wet at worse risk capsize.”
With blades being smashed by the waves, and the rowers ‘dog tired’ with the effort, rowing “becomes like combining brain surgery with tap dancing”.
And with no light in the sky at night it feels like “floating through space as on some weird simulator ride”.
“The sea will raise your hopes and dash them just as easily... where we seem to be going from looking down the barrel of a loaded gun to another.
“We (just) had yet another big hit on the beam of the boat that made the whole boat shudder.”
He praised Huw, the only ocean rowing novice in the crew, saying he was “already legendary after the baptism of fire... he has experienced” and added that he had “coped brilliantly”.
With Team FlyingFish trying to make up lost ground on the rest of the 13-boat fleet after their rudder problem, the ocean row organisers posted: “Our fantastic five are facing everything the Pacific has to throw at them - wind, waves, and even actual fish!
“Amidst it all, they’re making a concentrated effort to move Westward into more favourable conditions. It’s been a wild ride!”
And they are smiling through, mum-of-one and retired solicitor Elaine penning a poem in a two-hour rowing break entitled ‘Greeting from somewhere between Monterey and Hawaii’.
“The boys done good/ They changed the rudder/ That dip in the sea/ Made ‘em shudder.
Andy, Huw and Nelly, too/ They braved the icy brine/ Dived right in, no hesitation/ And out in double-quick time.
“Then before you know it/The tiller began to jar/ But that was swiftly sorted/ Using Elaine’s old padded bra.
“A rowing gate then went all wonky/ We couldn’t be more sicker, Happily, it was quickly fixed/With a pair of Ali’s knickers.
“Next up was the water maker/ A leaky pipe’s no fun/ But that was soonest mended/ With Huw’s half-chewed spearmint gum.
“It’s so far been a challenge/ In ‘The Toughest Row’/We wondered why they called it that/Now we truly know!”
The other crew members are Ali Wannell from Devon, and Neil Blackeby from Cornwall.
You can keep up to speed with Team Flyin’Fish’s progress at www.worldstoughestrow.com, on its YouTube channel and www.facebook.com/TeamFlyinFish/
To support their charities, go to www.justgiving.com/fundraising/flyin-fish1 -Air Ambulance – and www.justgiving.com/fundraising/rowflyinfish - SSAFA.