If you have an adventurous spirit, it’s not uncommon to have your curiosity stirred by a challenge. As Julie Cully discovered when she opened an email and read “do you want to row the Med”! At first Julie thought it was a joke, it’s not every day you’re asked to take part in an offshore rowing challenge. When she realised it was a genuine opportunity, she thought ‘why not give it a go’. Julie like many women likes to do some kind of physical challenge every year, like running a marathon, she’d never thought of rowing from one country to another….until then!
Julie signed up, completed the training weekend and went on to take part in the Shoreseeker Mediterranean Offshore Rowing Race in 2015. We caught up with Julie to find out what she thought and ask her about her experience.
Thank you for sharing your story with us, we’d love to hear a little about how you felt before the race, you had never done anything quite like this before, did you get nervous?
I think I was a bit nervous to be honest. The reality of rowing for 5 to 8 days as a novice was starting to sink in. However, once that starting horn went off, it was just us, out there working hard and hoping for good weather. I had already expected the race to be seriously challenging, lack of sleep, hours on the oars and trying to keep the energy and motivation levels up, but I also thought the elation of achieving our goal would make the hard slog worthwhile.
Adventures always have surprises, that’s part of the challenge. Were there any moments that were not as you expected?
I think the biggest surprise was how much our team was affected by events that happened even before we left the dock. It’s hard to factor in the unknown! It’s important to remember that change can happen, especially with the human factor, and of course the weather, that can affect the race.
Had you ever experienced taking part in a challenge like this before?
I had been on a sailing team before, on a big yacht with 22 crew. As much as this experience benefited me (in as much as, learning how to cope with the watch systems, and a little sea knowledge) this experience was different, it was a smaller team, more physical involvement and much smaller space. For the entire time at sea you are never alone, not even when you are having a pee! We got to know each other quickly and supported each other especially when the going got though.
What were some of the best race moments?
It was a great moment as the race started, hearing the starting gun go off. Rowing in silence, and being at one with mother nature, watching the sun rise and set. I loved feeling the freedom of knowing all I had to do was eat, sleep, row, repeat. There’s something very therapeutic in its simplicity! Getting to know my team members and sharing this unique experience with them was unforgettable. We experienced a storm during the race, which was really scary, but coming off the sea anchor, and finding the will power to carry on like the storm had never happened, was great!
Wow! So many different elements to the challenge, real contrasts from adrenalin filled action to tranquil peace and calm. It’s also great that being part of a team made the experience unforgettable. What advice would you give to others who are thinking about an Offshore Rowing challenge?
Shoreseeker isn’t for the faint hearted, but it’s a great challenge, its filled with surprises and will challenge your ability to be adaptable, on and off the water. My best advice it get the training in, do the hours on the static rower and you’ll be ready for this life changing challenge.
You mentioned teamwork, during the race how important was it to work together?
Team work and open and authentic communication was imperative for our safety and bonding. Our skipper; team mates, Shoreseeker support crew, and everyone involved really made this possible. It definitely contributed to the thrilling experience we had.
Many people wonder what it’s like fitting into the eat, sleep, row routine 24/7! How did you find it?
I adapted to it quickly, it’s surprising how you do! I found I could sleep when I needed to, and the dried food was actually quite tasty. Time spent on the oars was different every time! Much to my surprise when we rowed in silence, I really enjoyed it. Life seemed to go at a slower pace out there, something that is hard to explain to others, but I’d highly recommend, it’s unique!
Challenges often shape us, they give us the opportunity to learn how strong we are. What did you gain from the experience?
I gained a lot of self-confidence, and self-belief, I use to stop myself from trying new things, making excuses that I didn’t have the time. However, by just trying this race I learnt I am adaptable, I bond quickly with others and there’s always time for new experiences.
Thank you so much for sharing your Shoreseeker story with us, it’s truly been inspiring!
Lastly, what would you say to any women out there, who likes the sound of the challenge, but aren’t sure because they haven’t rowed before?
Previous experience isn’t necessary here, I hadn’t rowed before! I received all the support and training needed to take part from Shoreseeker. Sometimes I find excuses and hold myself back, in the past I would have made an excuse for this and not taken part. If you have a good attitude, and the commitment to do the training, you will be fine! Women are just as capable as men, and Shoreseeker is the perfect place to build your confidence as a rower, and as a female! Go for it!
You can watch Julie talk about her race experience in our 4-and-a-half minute film on the Shoreseeker Mediterranean Race, you can also check out what the boats look like, and find out more about Offshore Rowing.
To find out more about the Shoreseeker UK Race Series, please click on the link below and if you have any questions just drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org