If there’s one thing we can confident of when the Olympics roll around, it’s that we’ll do alright in the rowing.
Why? We’re not really sure. Perhaps it’s because we have a plentiful supply of strapping young lads from our private schools who are encouraged to get in a boat from an early age, perhaps it’s the attraction of the Varsity Boat Race which gives rowing a high profile in the country, or perhaps – and this is my personal opinion – it’s because the sport suits the British psyche almost perfectly. It’s monotonous, it’s dull, and it rewards those who are prepared to slog their way through early morning training in wet, cold winter months on even wetter rivers.
And one prime exponent of the sport is 33-year-old Alex Gregory, who has racked up two Olympic (both in the coxless fours) and five World Championship golds. You want a boat to move fast? You’d best give Alex a call.
He’s currently involved in a terrifying-sounding expedition from Norway to Iceland where he and eight fellow rowers are currently stuck on the remote Norwegian island of Jan Mayen, a month after setting off.
In nine days, they completed 965km, achieving eight world records in the process; however, after five days of no visible sun, their solar-powered batteries had drained, with all electrical equipment no longer working – they decided then to steer manually towards the island, 600km from Iceland, where they are now holed up alongside Norwegian Armed Forces personnel, and a small number of people working for the Norwegian Meteorological Institute.
In a post on 18 August, Gregory said: "I've never been so wet and cold. It's seeping into my bones, there is absolutely no escape from it. Two degrees, 99% humidity [so] nothing will dry. I have to wait for land. It's getting worse though, the colder I get, the more I have to work during my shift, the sweatier I get, the wetter I get, the colder I get."
And, now safely on dry land, Gregory has shared a photo of his hands, taken presumably shortly after the journey.
Just take a look at these:
Bloody hell. And I thought my hands got wrinkly when I spent too long in the bath.
The image was captioned: “My hands after spending so long in wet gloves.The blisters were never bad on this Polar row, but the wet & damp seeped into the skin...”
People were suitably shocked:
Gregory has already announced that he will not be continuing to row (can’t really blame him having seen that photo) but skipper Fiann Paul was "still pursuing options" to bring new crew members to the island to complete the expedition.
He’s said that a boat which is visiting the island next week may be the best opportunity to get home.
We’d advise investing in some of that Neutrogena hand cream when you get back mate. Get the Norwegian formula stuff – treat yourself. You deserve it.
(main image: Rex)