Regatta Online - Atlantic Challenge
Regatta Magazine Online

 Atlantic Challenge

 Issue 99 - June 1997


Getting fit to meet the Challenge

Duncan Nicoll on his preparations for the Atlantic Challenge

The Atlantic Rowing Race has been part of my life for over two years now. I see this year as a major landmark, and I believe that it is the right time for me to undertake this massive challenge. I feel at the peak of my fitness. My personal goal is to win the race, it is is not enough merely to enter. A commitment to returning to my full-time job after the two-and-a-half month race gives me great encouragement to succeed.

Balancing my physical training and my job as sales manager with a team of 13 has, itself, been a real challenge. Training takes place all week. I am out on the river by 5.30am. Weights and a nine mile run also feature in my training. After work, I am back on the river, and seldom reach home before 10.30pm. I have a 120-mile round journey from my home in Henley-on-Thames to my office in Redhill, Surrey. Regular working trips to Ireland and Scotland do not mean a break in my training, and I am often found in hotel gyms. I currently weight 84 kilos and plan to reach a target weight of 90 kilos before the start of the race. My daily intake of 6,000 to 8,000 calories includes everything that is normally considered bad for you, but I am fortunate in having a low cholestorel level of under 2.

I am passionate about adventure. I left school at 16 to join the Royal Marines, which took me to Norway, Cyprus and Hong Kong. I have climbed Mont Blanc, and I spent last summer in the Dolomites. Mountain biking and ski-ing are other regular activities. I have been rowing since I was nine years old, so for more than 20 years now. The rewards include being six times national UK champion in various categories and winning the British open heavyweight quads. I competed in the last three Diamond Sculls at Henley Royal Regatta.

The fact that I met Jock Wishart only in the context of the race is a very exciting element. Whilst is is possible to prove physical credentials, it is far more difficult to judge compatibility of personalities. I was asked to complete a psychological analysis, known as a Facer test. One of its clearest revelations to Jock was that I am completely up-front and honest about things. Jock's results are still kept secret from me, although he claims his scores for 'will and determination' are higher than mine!

Out at sea, we both need to maintain a high level of joint motivation and must try to avoid arguments. Greatest fears will include lethargy, severe damage to our hands, and stress on our backs. There is also the possibility of suffering from tino. It affects wrist tendons and is one of the greatest worries of any sportsman. I have faced life-threatening situations before, and still vividly recall sinking in Plymouth harbour, weighed down by 40 kilos of training kit during a Marines exercise. Such memories never leave you.

My connections with the sea extend some way back. My great grandfather, grandfather and father were all sea captains with the Merchant Navy. I have an elder brother and sister, both of whom are settled with their own families. I am the only one with an adventurous streak. I dare not think of what I will look like when I reach Barbados. I expect to lose up to 18 kilos by the end of the race. It will take some time to readjust to a normal day at the office, and to be able to enjoy a normal meal again. I have been in my job for seven-and-a-half years and am certainly planning to resume my career.

Racers' Haven-ly get-together.
Teams taking part in the Atlantic Rowing Race will meet at St Katherine's Haven by Tower Bridge on May 31-June 1.

Crews in the Atlantic Challenge should send their news to the Editor at 6 Lower Mall, London W6 9DJ. Fax: 0181 741 4658.

© Copyright Duncan Nicoll, 1997.

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