Taxi caught up with Stuart Lockhart, one of the London cab drivers who is planning to row the Atlantic, to raise funds for the Taxi Charity.
Hi Stuart, great to meet you. We spoke to your challenge teammate, Daren Parr, about this ambitious row a couple of months ago, so how is it going?
Stuart: Probably the most important thing to tell you is that we have now been in a boat. When you spoke to Daren, none of us had rowed before! The Fulham Rowing Club has been helping us with the basics of keeping the boat upright and rowing in straight lines. It really was that bad! But we are slowly getting the hang of it.
So, what rowing prep have you done?
Stuart: We have just completed our first 24-hour row on The Solent, with a second booked for 6th September. We set off from the Avon Marina in Christchurch at 8am on 9th August and were incredibly lucky that the weather was perfect and the water was flat. I loved it and was quite lucky that my training on a rowing machine had possibly toughened up my hands, so I didn’t suffer too much with blisters. But sitting in the rowing seat for two hours on and two hours off, across 24 hours, did leave my derriere feeling very tender, my arms and back hurting and my hamstrings very tight!
The row showed us just how much we have to learn, and we are booked on a five-day sea survival course which will show us exactly what might happen and how to deal with different scenarios. On this row we practised throwing a rope out for a man overboard and had a go at cooking the food we will eat for the two months it will take to cross the Atlantic. When I say cooking, we actually just need to boil water to rehydrate the sealed packets of food like you would prepare a Pot Noodle. But the boat is narrow, with very little space to move and in the middle of the Atlantic we might be trying to cook in horrendous storm conditions.
We were guided throughout our 24 hours by Billy Taylor from Monkey Fist Adventures, who began doing Atlantic rowing in 2014. He has been incredibly supportive and is preparing us so well for the unknowns of this mammoth challenge.
How far did you row?
Stuart: In the 24-hour period we rowed 31 miles up and down The Solent. The distance we need to row across the Atlantic from Lanzarote to Antigua in 2023 is 3,200 miles with an average target of 50 miles per day. If you consider that we won’t have many days with the weather as perfect as it was on this row, we will definitely need to up our game.
How are you physically preparing for this?
Stuart: Fitness is going to be so important. I was about four stone overweight a couple of years ago and was spurred to do something when I saw some pictures from a friend's 21st party in Malta and was shocked at just how big I looked. A friend recommended the Six Pack Revolution and I decided that I’d give it a go. I looked at the costs and reckoned that the 75-day programme was probably only the same cost as a few personal training sessions, so I signed up. It certainly worked for me, and I have kept the weight off.
Daren is training four times a week in the gym, concentrating mainly on his legs as 80% of rowing is with the legs, plus he is using a rowing machine and Bob is on the rower three times a week and also getting out on his mountain bike.
Rowing the Atlantic is not cheap, and I know you want to raise money for the Taxi Charity, so we are guessing you are looking for sponsorship?
Stuart: We certainly are! Rowing the Atlantic is a very expensive challenge, and we are so grateful to Avon Marina for loaning us the boat. We have several sponsors on board already, but we would love to have some more support from the cab trade including the apps, insurance companies, garages, and trade organisations.
If our readers want to know more, where can they find information?
If anyone can help by introducing us to potential sponsors, we would also be grateful.