After rowing 3,000 miles from the Canary Islands to Barbados, spending 54 days at sea, James Whittle and Tommy Caulfield of the Temptest Two can proudly say they achieved their goal.
The duo, hailing from London, finally landed on the shores of Barbados last Wednesday much to the cheers and congratulations of their families and friends.
Whittle, 25, and Caufield, 26, were rowing novices at the start of their journey, revealed the older marketing agent.
“I think before we went out to sea . . . we had only been on a boat five times,” Caufield said at a Press conference held at Sugar Bay Barbados, Garrison Road, St Michael.
The challenge, done in aid of brain tumour research and the Make A Wish Foundation, was inspired by Caulfield’s mother Fran who had sailed from London to Rio Brazil in the 2014 Clipper Around The World Yacht Race.
“She had never sailed before, and she actually sailed from London to Rio; so it was a similar route. Seeing all the teams come back from London, many who spent a year at sea, the elation on their faces at that moment of pure energy, was a bit of (a) my mum has done something cooler than I have and (b) I haven’t really done anything to even rival that.
“So it was as simple as googling what’s the toughest thing on Earth, and the ocean rowing came up and I texted James . . . and that was it,” said Caulfield.
Crazily enough, neither Caulfield nor Whittle had had rowing or sailing experience beforehand; but this did not deter the optimistic friends.
“I think it was really cool for us to tell the story of how ordinary people can do these really amazing things. These extreme athletes are put on this pedestal and people can’t even begin to see themselves in their shoes.
But we had no idea what we were doing; we just set out and believed in ourselves,” Caulfield explained.
The trip came with its trials, of course, as their boat capsized twice; the cabin was flooded; they nearly crashed into a tanker; and their arrival to Barbados was delayed because of bad weather.
“We had challenges the first week. We were really naïve. Obviously, we didn’t really have an idea of what we were doing, because the sea was pretty bad; and often we would lock ourselves in the cabin and sort of look at each other thinking, ‘What the hell we are doing here?’,” explained Whittle.
For Caulfield, the worst part of the journey was when the end was in sight but still unreachable.
“I think the hardest moment for me, personally, was when we were about a week out . . . . We got caught in two massive pressure systems which, weren’t picked up in our weather report. We were told we [we would have] ten days of easterly winds that were going to drive [us] into Barbados .
“We were like, ‘Perfect! This is our arrival day.’ All the family booked their flight, sorted out their accommodation at Sugar Bay. It was all sorted, and then this massive cloud came over us . . . wind changed, current changed, it dropped like three degrees and it started raining. We were like, ‘What’s going on?’
“We got shut down completely, going in circles, and [the weather] dropped us about ten miles south. We were stuck in it for about two to three days; and [there was] that feeling of just utter helplessness. No matter what you do, you cannot get out this thing. We could see the end of it, where the waves broke, but we couldn’t reach it.
“Knowing that we had that finish line in sight . . . was probably the lowest moment I definitely had. I started questioning.”
However, by overcoming these difficulties together, marketing agents Whittle and Caufield safely made it through to Port Charles on Wednesday morning to the delight of their families.
The 3,000 miles travelled were not all of gloomy experiences, as the handlers of Tempest Two spoke of waking up dolphins and flirting with pilot whales
“We got invaded by a hundred pilot whales on day three; they were making their way past the boat sort of checking us out,” Whittle jokingly said.
While they won’t be jumping to participate in any other such rowing trip just yet, Whittle and Caulfield are recommending others take the dive.
“We learnt loads about ourselves and our flexibility,” revealed Whittle.
He described it as an experience well worth having, as despite the 18 months of preparation, “nothing was like the real thing”.