TWAC2022 First Solo Rower Finishes in 46 Days, 6 hours and 10 minutes!

Photo credit: Penny Bird, Atlantic Campaigns. Mike Bates, The Atlantic Grappler, has rowed his heart…

TWAC2022 First Solo Rower Finishes in 46 Days, 6 hours and 10 minutes!

Photo credit: Penny Bird, Atlantic Campaigns.

Mike Bates, The Atlantic Grappler, has rowed his heart out across 3000 miles of this Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge and has arrived in Nelson’s Dockyard, English Harbour, Antigua 46 days after he was the last boat of 43 to leave San Sebastian de la Gomera on 12th December 2022. He is the 24th boat to cross the line! Phenomenal.

Mike has a special place in my heart. Firstly, he’s from Yorkshire! Secondly, when I signed up for this Atlantic Challenge in 2021, Atlantic Campaigns encouraged me to reach out to other rowers and Mike was the first to respond. He was more than willing to share his journey and I went to Roundhay Park in Leeds to support him when he did a 24-hour row to raise awareness and funds for the Leeds Hospital Charity he’s rowing for. He generously allowed me aboard Pegasus and I had a go on his rowing machine and took a few photos. He was super supportive.

Fast forward to the dockside on race day, I waved at Mike and he came over to give me a hug. Most hugs we take for granted. Few are memorable and this one will always stay with me. 

Watching one person, or a team, cross the line after 3000 miles of constant rowing is very emotional and I cried with joy for Mike. This photo brings tears to my eyes every time I look at it! He promised me an in-depth debrief when he gets back and I can’t wait for that.

There is something about sporting achievement – and sportsmanship – that gets me every time. I cried watching Alistair Brownlee help his brother Jonny over the line after he’d collapsed a few hundred meters from it. I met them both a few days later and chatted happily to Jonny and couldn’t speak to Alistair, I was that choked!

Just this last weekend, Eve Muirhead, who I had watched win curling gold in the Winter Olympics briefly stopped by my stall and I welled up!

There is something special about rowing for me though; Steve Redgrave, Matt Pinsent, Katherine Grainger, Helen Glover  – their achievements have moved me to tears every time.

But when it’s also someone you know! OH MY GOODNESS. And when you know they have done something that less than 1700 other people have done, I’m welling up just thinking about it!

And, as I’ll be Solo Female Rower Number 27 to successfully complete the Atlantic Challenge, I can’t wait until it’s my turn.