As they aim to set a new world record for a two-man rowing team in the 2000 mile GBRow rowing challenge around the UK’s coast, we chatted to sailing duo Savoir Faire, otherwise known as Josh Tarr and Jason McKinlay, about training, time out, and being just a little bit competitive!
What made you want to do the challenge? That’s a lot of rowing?!
JM: I’ve always appreciated adventure as an opportunity to explore the boundaries of personal, physical, and mental abilities, and in this case, teamwork as well. This particular challenge has everything an expedition should. The preparation for this is so important, the distance and time it will take are part of the challenge and I thrive on that, rowing will be like breathing (after a few days).
JT: Jason came to me with this idea, and it is exactly the kind of thing I enjoy, although I have very little to back that up with from previous experience. I see this challenge as the beginning; for someone like Jason to approach me to be his partner is a great honour. It’s a massive opportunity to do something few others have, to grab a world record, test myself, and be part of an incredible adventure!
How do you train for something like that?
JM: Spending hours and hours preparing the route and learning tidal streams is more important than the physical side of things, but we’ll both be in great shape specifically for rowing. Lots of hours weight training, spending time confined together, and lots of rowing.
JT: Mental strength. We will get out on the boat as much as we can and train our bodies to be physically strong but mental strength is the key to something like this. You need to be able to make important calculated decisions under pressure and when your body is tired. To do that you can simply choose your attitude, something my brother told me years ago whilst working at his sailing school. It’s a strange concept but actually, any given situation where things are not going your way or something terrible happens, it’s easy to fall apart and it would be acceptable to do so but if you can accept what has happened, you can move forward in a positive way and progress. This applies to everyday life; it can be as simple as missing the train because of heavy traffic … like I did a couple hours ago! This is part of why I’m supporting the charity MIND.
Are you naturally competitive?
JM: Absolutely, but not in the traditional sense. I have a saying, “I don’t play to lose”… Defeat in itself is a state of mind. One can win and still feel more could have been done or be defeated and feel pleasure and honour in the manner in which the challenge was approached.
JT: Yes. I always have been, but I don’t let it kill me.
Please tell me you get some time to relax as well – how do you rest?
JM: The routine will consist of rowing, eating, sleeping, rowing, communication, eating, rowing, eating etc … Oh and enjoying the beautiful scenery!
JT: Milk and bourbons in bed. Is that weird? Or do you mean on the boat? Bursts of sleep or unruly weather will be our rest periods.
You know a spa might be a good idea – have you tried one?
JM: It will be in my mind as we approach Tower Bridge as a finish line, but not before. A spa would be the best recovery for sure!
JT: Yes, I fell asleep in a very hot/humid, strange smelling room with a few other semi-naked people whilst listening to some mellow oriental music … relaxing.
Do you have a favourite spa treatment?
JM: After this row, a full body massage would probably be the best treatment!
JT: I’d like to try the muddy one … although a full body massage after the row sounds great too!
What’s been the hardest part of training so far?
JM: Making time. The program I’ve written helps to keep us on track but time management is the hardest thing. A nine hour working day, spending time with my beautiful boy Oliver and gorgeous baby daughter Emilia, are highest on my list of priorities so that comes next, then dinner, THEN training, then some work, then possibly some more training, then bed … then, do it all again! My incredibly supportive wife deserves a medal.
JT: Trying to fit it all in! The hardest is to come though, a 24 hour row on the machine, night training (sleep deprivation) and getting out on the boat for 48 hours!
What are you looking forward to when you finish the challenge?
JM: Spending time with my family, and taking in what we’ve achieved with a relaxing spa break!
JT: The unknown. I don’t know whether this will bring more opportunities or not but if it does, it could be a step further, and that’s exciting!
Photo courtesy of bangwollop photography.
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