Friday, January 22, 2010
‘JJ – Insure and Go’, Charlie Pitcher Atlantic Rower
On Sunday, 6th September, 2009 I posted a Blog about Charlie Pitcher,* the trans-Atlantic rower who is doing very well in the current race organised by the Woodvale Challenge Events. Twenty two days ago he crossed the start line at La Gomera, the Canary Islands, with seven other solo rowers, twenty doubles and one boat with a dozen rowers. They are all pushing on to achieve their objective of reaching the finish line at Antigua, in the West Indies. Charlie is a local East Coast sailor who has strong connections with Burnham-on-Crouch. He already has a track record at competitive events such as running in the 150 mile desert Marathon des Sables, and being involved in the America’s Cup, the Admiral’s Cup and the Whitbread and Olympic yachting campaigns. One of the reasons for Charlie taking part in this personal challenge is to raise money for Addenbookes Children’s Hospital.
In September of last year I happened to bump into Charlie when he was retrieving his unique rowing boat, ‘JJ’, from the water at Burnham Marina after a training stint that took place at night in the North Sea. His boat complies with the rules of the Race, but she has a unique, large bulbous bow where he sleeps and takes refuge during gales, whereas the other boats have their ‘living’ accommodation at the stern. Another striking feature is a drop plate near the bow which balances a deep rudder hung forward of the transom. The high cabin will give Charlie a marginal advantage when running downwind by keeping the bow pointed in the right direction, i.e., to the south-west and west, as the prevailing winds for the majority of the route are from the north-east and east. If he encounters winds from the north or south side he will use the drop plate to minimise sideways drift. There may be occasions when he will be able to trim the boat by adjusting the rudder and the drop plate to create forward motion, even when he is not rowing. By doing this Charlie will not be breaking any rules of the Race, and there may be times when the bulbous bow will be a disadvantage, such as when he is rowing obliquely across the wind. Possibly, the drop plate could help counteract drift in that situation.
Unless anything goes wrong, Charlie has a very good chance of being the winner. As I type, he is in front of the fleet with a 50 mile lead on his nearest competitor. He is very fit and in fighting form. He may even break the existing record time for a solo rower.
Charlie’s web site
Charlie’s Donation web site
Addenbrookes Hospital and Charlie
Atlantic Rowing Race