Thursday, 23 February 2012

The Boat Team

My English Channel experience taught me that the composition of the boat crew on the day is absolutely vital. It also taught me that if any of those on the boat even so much as think of caressing a warm cup of coffee in front of me, I will throw a jellyfish at them!

Paul and Jon will obviously be on the boat. In addition to the cheerleader pompoms, or some manly equivalent, both Jon and Paul will also have a speedo handy so that he can hop in and keep me company should I need it.

[Jon and Paul]

Sean McCarry will be wearing the captain's hat.  This means he calls the shots as to when, where and how. He assures me he didn't go to the same captain etiquette school as Francesco Schettino and won't be bringing mystery blond Moldovian distractions on board.

Joe Breen, navigator.  I couldn't have hoped for someone more experienced than Joe for this role... he was the helmsman of Portaferry inshore lifeboat, an ex auxiliary coastguard, commercial diver, diving instructor and a commercially endorsed coastal skipper. Currently Assistant Regional Commander in the Community Rescue Service... With Joe around, I don't think I will go missing!   It will be his job to keep us on course, no mean feat given the currents in the channel. He'll also be dodging wind farms, tidal turbines and any jellyfish flotillas. And hopefully me.

[Sean McCarry]

Food, or more specifically nutrition. That’s Simon (Coiled Spring) Harwood’s responsibility. Simon’s an all-round nice guy and natty dresser. His penchant for male grooming products  belies his steely determination to cross the finishing line. His formidable knowledge on the topic of training and nutrition comes from a slight OCD tendency and his experience as a GB veteran triathlete – 19th in the world!

So he understands what to throw to the monkey in the water when the arms must keep going round, but the tank is empty. 

He’ll also have his speedo handy + wet suit….you don’t get to be 19th in the world and be a fat boy with insulation.

[Simon Harwood]

Peripheral and very valuable psychological and trusted support will also come from firstly Neal, my brother. We share the same Nordic good looks and love of challenge. And then there’s Graham Wolfson, friend and co-worker. If Graham was a tree, he would be a Leadwood (combretum imberbe for the scientific amongst you).  With his roots in South Africa, he's a solid, upright and valuable member of my backup team. Not much good at swimming though (there's a reason no one makes boats from leadwood).

And finally there’s the aeroplane-jellyfish-spotter-guy. Never met him.  Don't know who he is, but I know I like him already.  Have I mentioned how concerned I am about the jellyfish?

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Wayne likes pork pies and Guinness. He likes routine and predictability. He loves his family. He's 40+, short(ish), balding and battling with waistline expansion. He's been known to occasionally play a good round of golf, likes to tinker with 'stuff' and has rescued a group of friends from the African wild by fixing a Land Rover with a jellybaby.

He's never been a great fan of physical exertion. In short (apart from the jellybaby incident), Wayne is an ordinary person. And he's about to do something really amazingly, astoundingly and astonishingly extra-ordinary. He's going to swim the the treacherous, never-been-swum-before channel between Kintyre (Scotland) and Ballycastle (Ireland). For charity. This is his story.