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Latitude 35 team complete the Atlantic Challenge in English Harbour, Antigua

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Reflecting on 36 Days at Sea with Jimmy Carroll

They did it! Following a well-deserved rest across the pond in Antigua, we caught up with co-founder Jimmy, following the excitement of Latitude 35 crossing the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge finish line in English Harbour, a highly anticipated moment for all of us having followed his gruelling journey across the Atlantic Ocean.

The team at Pelorus are incredibly proud of Latitude 35’s achievement. Having caught up in early January to hear his stories from the mid-Atlantic, we were excited to chat to Jimmy this week, having had a week or so to reflect and recuperate.  

 

You already have a huge appreciation for our oceans and raised important funds for The Pelorus Foundation. Has your outlook on marine conservation changed at all, having now rowed across part of our largest and most crucial ecosystem?

I now have even greater respect for the oceans and mother nature having spent 36 days at sea and been on such a small boat. The power of the ocean is second to none and you are very much at her peril. The biodiversity that exists within the ocean is awe-inspiring and some of the amazing sights we experienced from wildlife to environmental factors were just incredible.

 

Four men rowing across the Atlantic ocean on a 28ft boat, you must know each other inside out! What else, other than a strong bond got you through each day?

Mental preparation is absolutely key and we did a lot of work as a team on this. Understanding each of our touch points, the strengths and weaknesses we all had and having open communication between each other. My wife, Thea, gave me an envelope when I left that had 59 letters enclosed for me to read throughout the crossing, these were incredibly powerful and motivational for me and came from family, friends and colleagues.

Jimmy with a flare having crossed the TWAC finish line Team Finishing with Flares in English Harbour, Antigua
Latitude 35 teammates celebrating having crossed the finish line Latitude 35 team celebrating with flares in English Harbour, Antigua

Images courtesy of Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge

The Atlantic threw some almighty challenges at you. How did your military background help you adapt and overcome these situations?

Our training as a team certainly kicked in with all the different scenarios we found ourselves in, from communication failures, storms and a close encounter with a marlin, to name a few. However, I believe the military training that Jono and I had undertaken certainly helped deal with these situations. You have to analyse the situation, make a decision on what needs to be done but to also be prepared to adapt and overcome. The Marlin experience was something that we had never dreamt of happening so in order to deal with this we had to adapt and think quickly on our feet.

 

How do the physical and mental challenges rate in comparison to some of the extreme challenges you have completed in the past, like ultra-marathons and endurance bike rides?

I have to say that this is probably one of the toughest, if not the toughest event that I have undertaken. The duration for one is challenging and physically breaks the body down. The nature of the race and being completely unsupported is a very big factor and there is no get out if you are physically or mentally not up to completing the challenge. I lost 8kg of body weight even though I was eating 5500 calories a day. The intensity of the sun and reflection on the water is another key factor to consider.

 

Yours, and the rest of the rowers’ situations have been unique, spending that amount of time off-the-grid. Has this challenge changed your outlook on life?

You really appreciate everything that we take for granted and the friendships that you have. Being confined to such a small space and the repetitive nature of each day is another factor that reminds you of the immense freedoms we have in everyday life. The basics of being able to walk is something that I really missed as we would take approx. 12 steps a day when on the boat. Food becomes a big part of what you long for as well, the rations are good but you dream of the most amazing meals for when you hit land.

What were your feelings when crossing the finish line? It was great to watch you all find a burst of energy for celebrations in English Harbour!

I cannot put into words the feeling of when you cross the finish line, having family and friends watching and boats all around us was just incredible. I was lucky enough to be steering us in and telling the rest of the team what I could see as we crossed the line. The moment you have the flares going off in your hands and celebrate with the team is one of the best feelings in the world and you are so pumped up.

 

Do you have any advice for anyone inspired by your achievement and wanting to follow in your footsteps?

This was a challenge I wanted to undertake for a long time and had spoken to many friends about. I certainly wouldn’t take it lightly and for anyone wanting to, I would highly recommend it but understand the commitment to training and preparation and both the physical and mental aspects of it. It will be one of the most rewarding experiences of your life and nothing will prepare you for that feeling when you cross the finish line. Go forth and conquer!

Jimmy and team Latitude 35 joined by friends on approach to English Harbour to finish the race

“My wife, Thea, gave me an envelope when I left that had 59 letters enclosed for me to read throughout the crossing, these were incredibly powerful and motivational for me and came from family, friends and colleagues.”

Jimmy Carroll
Pelorus Co-Founder