Row Bristol Row
A lot of time has passed but in this weeks blog we’ll be focusing on our time at the Bristol Harbour Festival.
This was the most prepared we have ever been for an event, it was literally months of planning; from ensuring our boat would be ready, signing up sponsors, getting massive, setting up a text to donate number, designing new banners with stronger messages and designs to have bigger impact and creating new flyers that better tell our fundraising mission statement. We planned it all, which made it all the more frustrating when the bad luck started to befall us!
Alas this story has a happy ending so don’t cry your heart out as we begin with the week leading up to the event.
The decals were delivered, the flyers were on order and our boat was ready and confidence was high or so we thought. Mark had gotten the call we all dreaded.. the boat that our hopes rested on would not be ready. The next 24 hours were the most tense, because no boat means no PR and our campaign needs PR. So much back and forth followed between Mark and Rossiters, exploring all options to get a boat to the water.. should be as easy as organising a piss up in a brewery right?
We put out messages of help on Facebook channels to no prevail (the only reply was Di… Di?!) which meant the only option was reaching to teams through Rossiters and hoping to borrow a boat from them. We probably wouldn’t lend a boat to a rival and we definitely didn’t expect the same in return. So it was with a huge surprise when that's exactly what did happen. So a belated and massive thanks to Head Together And Row for lending us their boat and kudos for attempting to row the Atlantic Ocean in it because it has it’s…err quirks.
So we had the boat and now all we had to do is pick it up, attach the decals and get it to the harbour. That week we also learned from our sponsor Jim Cudd of Sailfish Marine that he had a contact in the Western Boat Show who could get us a better location of the Bristol Harbour Festival. This was huge with potential contacts and we need contacts to save us jiggling our newly acquired man handles for £££’s. Good news and time to relax until we get the boat…
So it’s Thursday and Mark and Jon have hit the M4 to Rossiters to pick up the boat, with the help of Jon’s dad the Legend that is Tim Lakin. After hours of pushing and pulling (to me, to you) the boat and getting it onto the trailer they were off. Jon and Mark ahead and Tim behind pulling away, Jon’s phone battery died but that wouldn't be needed now would it… it was needed. The phone call to Tim when Jon and Mark reached Bristol was possibly the dumbest luck, a wheel had fallen off the trailer and he was stuck on a farm waiting for new pieces… I mean this was just getting comical, it must have been second hand from Wile E. Coyote and made by the Acme Corporation.
Tim sacrificed himself to fix the trailer and we just had to prepare for tomorrow, Dan came down from London to pick up the new t-shirts that would make the team look like winners. A 2 hour train and 40 minute bus ride later and he set foot in the shop, feeling hopeful. The box was picked up without a word and off he went to meet the guys before the Sam FM interview.
Halfway up the hill he thought “I’ll give them a look”, the t-shirt was picked out of the bag and the front was beautiful; our recognisable logo to the right and the Talisker/Atlantic Campaign logo to the left. He turned the t-shirt round and thats when the profanities started, if this was on TV it would have sounded like some poor soul hit the flat line. It looked like they drew the sponsor logos on themselves with their left hand after sitting on it for 30 minutes… I mean how hard could it be, so back to the standard t-shirts we went which could have been mistaken as a stroke of pure genius.
So we all met Jon and Mark at our first site in the Western Boat show, they’d loaded everything in and put the iconic blue gazebo up and now it was time to race over to Bristol Rowing Club to meet Sam FM and take one of their lads on the water. We had no boat on hand so one from the rowing club would have to do, we jumped in our cars, headed off annnnnnd hit traffic. We called up Sam FM and thankfully they had hit it too so we just had to get there first.
We arrived in the car park, no sign of Sam FM so we could relax for second before they arrived. We argued amongst ourselves (nominated Steve) who would take their guy out with the rowing club captain, dragged the boat and oars out and waited for their arrival. Their guy turned up looking like the muscular brother of Simon Pegg in Run, Fatboy, Run; you know the one with the most ridiculous vest, every gym has one.
After a quick bit of pre game advice, the guys jumped in and set out along the river, while Mark, Jon and Dan spoke to the guy with the mic commenting on the technique. The annoying part is he was better than us I reckon… the bugger! We took it in turn answering questions until they came back in and off they went. Was over pretty quick so our attention was back to the setup.
A phone call from Tim followed with the news we were all waiting for, he had fixed the trailer and he was almost here. Time for us to get to the other side of the river, chuck on the decals, put the boat back in the water and get some sleep… When said like that it sounds so simple, it was more like Simple Jack. Tim arrived to a heroes welcome and cold pizza (we’re still sorry about that by the way), which meant it was time for the decals.
The decals were big and awkward; with each slightest movement a wrinkle would appear underneath and we knew it was going to take a while. So we took off the straps holding the boat down and split them up between us; after an hour or two we decided we would have to try again the morning of the festival to get the rest on, bloody disaster. Victoria from the Western Boat Show was waiting to lock up the moor and we were on the wrong side of the river to row it over to her.
So off we went back to the other side with the boat and we were almost done for the day… with one slick move the boat was in the water. Now it was late, there was hardly any light and we had to row this thing and moor it to the other side… probably would have helped if someone had rowed in one of these before.
We couldn’t get the gates for the oars open so paddled along in a calamitous manner to the other side where a weary looking Victoria was ready to lock and dash. We must of looked like the funniest gondola she’d ever seen. The straps were on and the boat was attached to the moor, the lock went on behind us and now we could finally get some sleep. Tomorrow was a big day, one we had prepared for, for a while. Fingers were crossed for better luck in the morning…
End of Part 1. Part 2 will be coming to you shortly :)