Von SILKE SANDKÖTTER und LISA BARRETT
Dieses Interview stand – in Auszügen und übersetzt – am Sonntag, 8. August in der Wochenpost. Hier gibt es das Interview noch einmal, wie im Artikel angekündigt, in kompletter Länge und in englischer Sprache. Diese Interview ist übrigens via Facebook zustande gekommen. Über Freunde auf Hawaii kenne ich Lisa, die wiederum mit Angela befreundet ist. Sie hat den Kontakt hergestellt und hat schließlich sogar vor Ort das Interview mit Angela für mich geführt. Also eine echte deutsch-amerikanische Web2.0-Produktion…
This Interview is with Angela Madsen, she is a 50-year-old wheelchair-bound former U.S. marine. Together with her three teammates she have become the first women to row nonstop around mainland Britain after completing the 2,000-mile journey. The trip took her 51 days, 16 hours, 42 minutes. The 50-year-old grandmother broke her finger setting off a flare, but she jkept on rowin with a strapped hand. Here is the wochenpost-interview:
Congratulations: After 51 days, 16 hours and 42 minutes you are one of the first women who row round Britain. How are you doing today?
I am happy to be off the boat and to be home. I am already recovered, rowing again, back at the gym; Back to life as we know it. Though, I am still unpacking and organizing my boat stuff. I’ll be back out in the boat again next week. There is a visually impaired man that wants to be the first visually impaired man to row across the ocean. I am taking him out to familiarize him with an ocean rowing boat and rowing in general. He has never rowed before.
You are a member of the Seagals rowing team and participated in the Virgin GB Row 2010. Can you explain, what the Virgin GB Row 2010 is, because we haven’t heard anything about this race in Germany.
The Virgin GB Row 2010 is a race that circumnavigates the whole of Great Britain and includes the countries of Scotland, England, and Wales. It is a non-stop and completely unsupported race, done in a human-powered ocean rowing boat. You are not allowed to come to port or to touch land at all during the race and have to carry on board all of the survival supplies you will need to get you through the trip; this includes safety and navigation equipment, as well as all of your food and a water desalinator that converts ocean water into safe drinking water. This race distance for this particular race was 2010 land miles. The Virgin GB Row 2010 was also a fundraiser in support of an English organization called – “Help For Heroes,” which is a charity that offers military veterans returning from war, a variety of services. Because I am also a veteran myself, I thought it was a worthy cause. As a veteran, there are really no borders. All Veteran’s have
the same issues and problems when we get home.
This race is officially considered the toughest rowing race in the world. What makes it so tough?
I thought the Indian Ocean was tougher. They might say this is the toughest – because there is more boat traffic, more shipping lanes. Also,
there are extreme tides and currents along this route. You also see land, which is tough. If you are not happy, you might feel like you want to get off. When you are on an ocean crossing, you are thousands of miles from land in either direction and simply cannot get off the boat.
You have had some close calls with some big ships along the way. How dangerous is the race?
It was dangerous. We did constant collision avoidance. You have to cross all of the big ports and harbours during this race. You are a tiny boat and the big boats don’t see you. We used a device called Seemee, which amplifies and sends back radar and sonar. It reflects it, so that ships know that something is there. And, we used a Radar Transponder (AIS). Its’ job is to receive info about other ships course bearing and speed. The Radar Transponder works with radar and satellite. It gives us an audible alarm if a boat is in our proximity. And it gives off a Serious alarm, if a boat is on a collision course with us. Neither of these would be a GOOD THING TO TURN OFF.
Your original goal was to beat the record of 26 days plus and it has taken you longer. What were some of the biggest obstacles along the way?
That record was the previous men’s record. Initially, we wanted to beat that record. But, we also wanted to set a women’s record, because we were the first women to do this race. And, we wanted to set a good record so future women would have a hard time beating our time. The first 6-7 days of the race, we were on pace to do it. But, the winds and weather conditions prevented it from happening. The men who set the original record had optimal weather conditions. For them, the wind blew them north when they needed to go north and then it changed directions at just the right time and blew them south when it was time for them to go that way. The winds helped them. For us, the winds were against us the whole time.
I understand you set a new ocean rowing speed record on this race, tell me about that.
Doing the turn up north around Johnny Croates, we had the tide with us. The current was ripping really fast and we were able to achieve 16 knots speed while rowing, the fasted speed attained in an ocean rowing boat. The army guys who went before us, they were only able to achieve 13 knots.
What has been the biggest challenge on this race?
Personalities. There was no problem at all with the rowing and the physical part. The skipper was the most dangerous part of this race and the hardest to deal with. She had no rowing or skipper experience.
How has the teams mood been, being at sea so long?
Three of us got along great and would help each other out. We three supported each other and struggled to get along with the other person on the boat.
There was a second boat – a boy´s team with the name “The Misfits”. Why did the men abandoned the race completely?
The men’s boat name was the Orca; it was a Trimaran. We got to Lands End a day ahead of them. On the way there, we would get ahead first, and then they would catch us. Then, we would put some more miles on them, then they would catch up. At Lands End, the winds there in that area have a tendency to sweep people out to sea. When we got to Land’s End we stopped our boat, the boys kept going and got pushed out to sea. When they got off pace and realized it was impossible to beat the men’s record, they didn’t want to go on. They quit the race completely.
We can’t compare your boat with a usual rowboat. You have modern technology on the board. With Facebook and Twitter you post updates frequently from sea. Can you explain, what the special equipment on your boat is and if it is just built for the race?
Our boat was 24 feet long and 6 feet wide. With all food and supplies and the 4 of us on board, it weighed 2000 pounds. Two people row at a time while 2 rest. We did 2 hours on two hours off, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, throughout the entire race. There is no shelter at all on the main deck of the boat. You are exposed to all of the elements at all times when there. There were two small cabins, which held one person at a time each. Everything on the boat, including everything inside each cabin as damp or wet the entire time. We ate 3 meals a day: breakfast, lunch and dinner and had snacks like power bars, snack packs made with candies, and ate munchies off and on in between. All of our meals were freeze dried. We drank powdered Gatorade that we mixed in out desalinated water, or we had coffee, tea, hot chocolate, ginger tea. We used a Jetboil Stove to heat water fro drinks and hydrating our meals. We use a bucket for going to the bathroom. To bathe, we did pigeon baths with our desalinated water, or we used biodegradable wipes. We did not do any fishing. Because this was a circumnavigation race, we had Internet and cell phones 50-70% of the time and we had a satellite phone when the other forms of communication were not working. On an ocean crossing, you have only a satellite phone to use. The race organizers gave us Samsung Waves for the boats. We had solar panels that charged all of our electrical equipment and batteries. I had to repair the desalinator a few times. I know how to fix and repair almost anything on an ocean rowing boat. As long as I have spare parts, I can MacGyver it.
How does if feel to not only be one of the only women to have rowed around great britian, but to be the only paraplegic?
Its like Forest Gump, I just felt like rowing. And, I just keep on rowing. Every ocean rowing experience has been different for me. This one, I was keen to do an all women’s row. In the past, I had done mixed gender rows, both with more and with less people. This was a whole different experience in that way. And, it was circumnavigation – coastal rowing – with its own unique experiences. It was not like doing the same thing over and over again. You saw different coastline, different towns and cities along the way. I am not sure that I care so much about being the first. That is not really why I take them on. I do them for the experience. And the opportunity presented itself for this and I took it.
12. Where do you get the power and motivation to do these amazing challenges?
I have a lot of faith in myself, and my abilities. I am kind of spiritual. I believe in God. I pray for strength and I get it. I don’t necessarily believe in miracles, but I pray to be able to do the work and to tolerate the pain – just to be able. And then, I go out and do it; all the training, all the training in the gym. I love the ocean.
What are your plans for the future?
I am organizing a Transpac Row; a row from California to Hawaii. That is probably my next one. I would like to do a solo one, but with my disability, I am not sure how that would work out. We will see what opportunities present themselves. I would have to find a caregiver to go along with me. If Jeff Hot did it with a caregiver, I could too. There would be the challenge of the added weight of another person and extra food and supplies for that person and only one rower. It would be more difficult. So far, I have done the pairs, I have rowed with 4 and with 8. I have done mixed gender and women only. The only thing I have not done is the solo.
One last question: What was the first thing you have done after being back on the land?
Once we arrived in England, I did not have friends or family there to greet me, so, I was alone. We did pictures and interviews. Race organizers made some food – but I didn’t really eat that. I ate a banana that someone brought to me. I drank a beer and went to a proper toilet. At home, I got some proper Mexican Food at a place called Pacos near LAX. Then, I came home and went in my Jacuzzi.
I am working on a book on how I became disabled and the challenges of ocean rowing in general and the Atlantic Race I participated in… some background on me.
I run a Non-Profit agency to introduce the disabled to rowing in Long Beach, California.
I love spending time with my granddaughters.
I team rowed (myself and a French male amputee) the Atlantic Ocean, 2550 nautical miles, begun Dec 2007. Time: 66 days, 23 hours, 24 minutes.
I rowed the Indian Ocean, 3100 nautical miles, begun April 2009. Time: 58 days, 15 hours, 8 minutes. There were 8 people, 6 men and 2 women. I was Skipper.
I did this race, 2010 land miles, 1794 nautical miles. Time: 51 days, 16 hours, 42 minutes. 4 women crew. Started June 1st.
I competed in the Paralympics in Bejing 2008. I rowed and just missed the medal round by 7/10ths of a second.