What was giving you nightmares at start of the year? Back-to-work dread? The electricity bill you’d stuffed down the back of your wardrobe in a bid to make it disappear? That suspicious leftover chilli you found in the back of the fridge? For Hector Strickland, his sleeplessness was a little more… extreme. We’re talking huge waves. Giant sea beasts. And the very real terror of taking a mid-ocean poop.
Back on January 18, Hector and his four pals made history by becoming the fastest five-man crew to cross the Atlantic by paddle power, in a remarkable time of 36 days, 19 hours and 9 minutes. What makes the feat even more incredible, is that their expedition is widely believed to be the world’s toughest row. To find out why, we caught up with Hector to chat through the eight things that sent shivers down his spine while he and his pals were adrift in the middle of their epic oceanic expedition…
1) Giant Sea Beasts
“Apart from one bird that decided, for whatever reason, to follow us for most of our journey, we didn’t see any wildlife for the majority of the row. We thought we might see some dolphins, but soon guessed that we just weren’t moving fast enough for them come and play around us. Then one morning, an hour after sunrise, an enormous whale breached out of the water and created one hell of a splash just 50 metres behind the boat.
“It should have been the most beautiful sight in the world – dawn had just broken, the water was calm, and there was this whale leaping out of the water for me. But the first thing I thought, when I saw that it was the size of a single-decker bus and four-times larger than our boat, was ‘F*ck, that thing better not get any closer.’ Instead of taking it all in, I’m there, plotting my escape route over the side if it jumped out of the water next to me. They leaped about three times then left, but for a long time after they’d disappeared, I was on high alert, just expecting them to rise up out of the water and swamp or crush the boat.”