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Tuesday 13th January 2003
Worcester's Atlantic rower: latest update
Richard about to refit Najojo
Richard Wood from Worcester is making his final preparations for an attempt to row solo across the Atlantic Ocean in a plywood boat. Here's his latest update, sent to us on Tuesday 13th January 2004.
audio Richard Wood talks to BBC Hereford & Worcester's Miles Pilling(56k)

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Ocean Rower - Richard's website
Ocean Rowing Society
Ocean Rowing Society - race website
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Richard Wood, from Northwick, Worcester, plans to set off from La Gomera in the Canary Islands on 20th January

He is aiming to reach dry land 3,000 miles away in Barbados between 65 and 70 days later

The father-of-three was thwarted in 2001 when his rowing partner had to pull out because he'd had enough

Richard then tried to carry on on his own but scalded his own hand whilst cooking and had to stop

He still managed to raise £18,000 for Worcester's St Richard's Hospice

The 47-year-old youth worker headed out to La Gomera on 6th January to prepare his boat, named NaJoJo

Richard lives in Northwick, Worcester

He has three children, whose names make up the name of the boat, Najojo

He is a Senior Youth Worker for Worcester Youth Service

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It is one week today since I arrived on the island of La Gomera in the Canaries 24 miles off Tenerife in San Sabastien where the Ocean Rowing Society Atlantic Rowing Regatta will start in a weeks time.

I was absolutely worn out when I eventually got here after a long trip from London.

Our ticket said the plane left at 10.50 in fact it was 10.10 so we only just made it.

When we got to Tenerife one of the bags was missing but fortunately they were aware of this fact and said it would be delivered the following day, which it was!

I took the Sea Cat ferry from Los Christianos to San Sabastien and was met by one of the other competitors Louis Ginglo who I have got to know quite well over the past few months as I have helped him with his boat in the UK.

We are sharing an apartment until his wife comes over next weekend to save money and then I will repair to the boat for the final few days before the start.

When I arrived my boat had not yet been delivered, nor had several others which had been held up in the port of Santa Cruz due to the long Christmas and new year holidays.

The last of the boats have taken until today to
arrive with three on the ferry which is arriving in about 5 minutes!

Mine came a few days ago and I have been sorting my gear out ever since.

I took her out on the water for the first time yesterday and it was good to be able to give her a good test run although you have to be a bit careful not to get in the way of the fairly frequent ferry services in and out of the port.

Because of all the hassle with the boats we did not have our first team meeting until Saturday morning but this eventually took place and although there are still a couple of people missing the atmosphere was good and it felt like we had started to make headway.

The rest of the crews are an interesting mixture of people and we are all very determined to get across and succeed in what we have set out to do.

The task ahead of us is of course a daunting one but there are a number of veteran ocean rowers turning up over the next few days to give help support and advice and Stein and Diana Hoff are already here hosting lunch on their catermaran which will be acting as a support vessel for the first part of the race.

They have both completed solo crossing of the Atlantic and Stein has also done it as a double crew in 1997.

They are of great support both with hospitality and huge practical knowledge and skill which we are all benefiting from.

They have helped to create a really good atmoshere amongst us all.

Yesterday Stein gave a lecture on watermakers, a vital piece of equipment that converts sea water into fresh, many people had experienced problems with theirs but these are being sorted out with great relief all round.

The next week will see further meetings on all aspects of the race include a psychologist for elite athletes coming from Bangor University to give us some help in the area that will be by far the greatest challenge ie keeping our heads together for what is such a relatively long period.

NaJoJo, my little 7m by 2m boat will soon become my home for two or three months during which time I am unlikely to see very many other human beings.

Life no doubt will carry on as usual for most of you but spare a thought for me far out in the Atlantic.

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