Oar-Some by Jennifer Brumham, published by Oar 4 Won
ocean four of
celebrate their unique achievement of becoming
Article and pictures by Hilary Bastone
In their 24 foot boat, Queensgate, the
four men set out on January 20 last year to row 2,907 miles from San
Sebastian to Port St Charles in the Ocean Rowing Society’s John
Fairfax Regatta. Phil, Shaun, Yorkie and Jason, all from the
historic naval and sea-faring town of Dartmouth, played Russian
roulette for hour after hour with waves as high forty feet in the
middle of inhospitable seas, thousands of miles from land. Day and
night they rode each breaking wave which would take them closer to
their destination, but each one potentially fatal. With the constant
threat of capsizing and a near miss with a trawler, the dangers of
rowing an ocean became more than reality when one of the crew was
knocked overboard. And with temperatures in excess of 35 degrees
centigrade, and conditions similar to that of a sauna, they were
forced to row naked, with the exception of strategically placed
Flying fish, dolphins, ‘Nigel the bird’ and man o’war jellyfish would be their only company with a brief respite to indulge in some ‘extreme ironing’! Would friendships survive as they all pursued their dream to become the first four-man crew to row an ocean anywhere in the world?
Their adventure is told through their own personal diaries and photographs taken during the crossing, along with recollections from the crew’s families and friends. It tells of their struggle just to get to the start line and their trials and tribulations as they rowed into the history books with their adopted motto, “Pain is only temporary, failure lasts a lifetime”.
Author Jennifer Brumham’s path to writing the book also has a unique twist. Some two years ago she visited a clairvoyant who told her she was going to become a writer. Up to this point Jennifer had had a varied career path which had not included writing a book.
Subsequently she had a chance encounter with the Queensgate crew when she was invited by a friend to attend a seminar given by them on behalf of Neways (UK) International, one of the crew’s sponsors. The crew had just completed their ocean row and gave a talk of their experiences.
A few weeks after the seminar Jennifer’s friend telephoned to say that the crew were looking for someone to write their book and she had thought of Jennifer. A further meeting with the crew at their welcome home party led to a few meetings in a local pub after which Phil handed her a pound coin and said “You’re hired”.
Of the difficulties of writing her first book Jennifer said, “It has been the hardest challenge of my life, yet one of the most rewarding too. At the beginning of the project I had no experience whatsoever of writing a book and absolutely no knowledge of Ocean Rowing. The learning curve has been steep and the fear of failure was a daily motivator as I felt so many people were relying on me to complete the book. The guys had put an enormous amount of trust in me and I felt I could not let them down, however tough it got. Physically I may not have rowed an ocean but mentally there were many times that I felt that I had.”
Oar-Some by Jennifer Brumham and
published by Oar 4 Won will be launched at 2 p.m. on Wednesday,
August 24, at the commencement of the Port of Dartmouth Royal
Regatta. The four rowers and the author will be on hand for a book
Ocean Rowing Society
Design by REDTED