Horizontal rain and ice cold water pummelling their boat, Evesham's Alex Gregory faced some treacherous conditions while rowing through the Pacific Ocean for a World Record attempt called the Polar Row (www.polarrow.com)
Alex was part of the initial crew that departed Tromsø (Norway) for Longyearbyen (Svalbard). This first part of the journey was officially recognised as the first ever South to North row in the Arctic, and reached the northernmost latitude achieved by a rowing crew (record which stood for 27 years).
In addition the row also broke the existing Arctic Ocean speed record by 35 times! It was the biggest record in the history of Ocean Rowing and set an Arctic Ocean speed record higher than the current Pacific Ocean speed record. This is a much unexpected occurrence in the Ocean Rowing world.
Everything that could go wrong went wrong.
Alex said: "When battling through a storm at 3am in the morning, rain coming in horizontally, ice cold water coming over your shoulders every five minutes and knowing there is no stopping until the next check point 500 miles away – you have to keep going. You have to remind yourself, this is the challenge, if it was easy, you wouldn’t be the first crew to have done this."
Alex prepared for the challenge both mentally and physically. He said: "On starting the expedition I was in a good mind set. I was really pleased with the way that I dealt with the physical activity of rowing and life on the boat."
Alex added: "What I wasn't prepared for was just how dangerous it would be. I had no appreciation of how dangerous that situation would be in those cold conditions. I very quickly became aware of this when the waves grew to four to five meters high and the fact that if we capsized the chance of survival for anyone thrust into the sea would be next to nothing."
So was it all worth it Alex?
Alex said: "It doesn't take a second for me to say, Yes! It was totally worth it! I knew it would be uncomfortable, difficult, tiring, painful and scary at times. I knew it would be a physical and a mental challenge and that’s exactly what I wanted to do it for. I’ve spent my life challenging myself and this was the chance to do it in a very different way. Being out there at sea, when I perceived the danger levels to be high it made me seriously look at my life and realise what was important.
This experience was everything I hoped it would be and more. It gave me a deeper understanding of my role in life as a person and as a parent. Hopefully I have come back a better person and a better father to Jasper, Daisy and Jesse!