Issue 96 - March 1997
Atlantic Challenge, October 12th 1997
The Atlantic Challenge - a race across the ocean lasting perhaps 90 days - has caused plenty of debate amongst oarsmen and women. Most wonder whether they would be up to it: most dismiss the idea. The focus of such speculation, though, has tended to be on the individual - how would I cope? - and on the physical aspects of what will be a gruelling enterprise. I take a different view, however. I think that the real key to success in the race - whether that means completion or winning - is the compatibility of the two team members.
One of the special features of the walk to the Magnetic North Pole is that the core team of experienced Arctic explorers has advertised for individuals to join them. To select from the large number of applicants I enlisted the help of Chris Jones of London RC and coach of the Oxford lightweight men, who professionally is a consultant in organisation development. This has led to the application of modern business techniques to the selection process. Shortlisted applicants for the expedition undergo an assessment which, apart from interviews with the core team, involves team activity and psychometric and other behavioural tests designed to identify how candidates will perform in the extreme conditions that they will face in the Arctic.
I realised that such a rigorous approach could be modified to selecting a partner for the Atlantic Challenge. Chris has set up a similar selection process on a smaller scale. As a result of my intention to take part being mentioned in Regatta, I have been approached by many potential partners. I would like to hear from more - and I see the process as a way of making the difficult choice in an objective way.
So, what sort of person am I looking for? A combination of characteristics is needed: some being about how the individual would cope with hardship and some, well, some being how the individual would cope with me. To last for perhaps three months, participants will have to show a great deal of determination, a will to win that would translate itself into a sort of stubbornness that would take the team through every obstacle. At the same time, emotional stability - remaining controlled under stress - is clearly desirable. The Atlantic will provide enough ups and downs without the team adding to it. A reasonably ordered and meticulous approach (remembering to pack the tin opener and so on) is also desirable. Perhaps a more difficult characteristic is a blend of 'team orientation' (we must take care of each other) with the ability to cope with being alone (even I will run out of conversation) and the sense of isolation that will be inevitable. On a more mundane level, I am keen to find a partner with some mechanical and technical aptitude. I am an experienced navigator, but I am not confident that I could carry out running repairs to communication and other equipment. Finally, each team member will have to raise a considerable sum of money to pay for the trip: although I have a great deal of expertise in dealing with sponsors for this kind of project.
Anyone who feels that they might meet these qualifications should write to:
Jock Wishart, 18 Neville Close, Kingston, Surrey, KT1 3QX
as soon as possible, outlining briefly how they feel they are suitable for this challenge.
© Copyright J. Wishart, 1997.
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