Wow. One year ago I took on Rampion Offshore Wind farm, swimming there and back and I have just taken my first group of swimmers to experience the same.
Sunday 26th September, was the inaugural Wind Farm Challenge.
Eight swimmers signed up to the 2021 Wind Farm Challenge.
During the few months leading up, we ran several group swims and zoom calls to familiarise everyone with the preparation required, the route, the plan for the day and importantly the pace of swim. The group was to swim at between 25 and 30 minutes per kilometre. Every single emotion was expressed in the days before the swim and I can safely say, the group had prepped enough warm clothing and food to keep them going for months at sea!
The morning of the swim came and the conditions were looking good, but knew wind was due to come in late afternoon. We were due to set off at approximately 1045 from Sussex Yacht Club and after a swift safety briefing, the boats were loaded and ready to go.
The journey to the wind farm presented a mixture of feelings from the group as the boat bounced around. Some were chatty and excited, others focused and conserving energy whilst I was experiencing the journey out to the turbines in a new way!
The conditions were beautiful for the start of the swim. The swimmers plopped into the water
gathered together and then a THREE, TWO, ONE and they were off.
Four swimmers were attempting the journey back to shore solo, whilst the other four were aiming for one hour in, one our hour.
The group set off strong and made their way North, leaving the turbines behind them. The first hour flew by and before we knew it, the four solo swimmers needed feeding whilst the others came onto the boat to rest. To say they were buzzing was an understatement. The energy amongst the group was infectious and cheering the others on, we refuelled those on the boat.
Again, the second hour whizzed by and they were back in the water. The group were making excellent progress and updates were given to the support crew on land.
The cycle continued as they pushed them selves closer to the coast line, the downs, Shoreham port and Worthing Pier were suddenly visible in the distance. With about three hours left, the wind, as predicted, came in. It has a considerable affect on the boat and conditions. Suddenly the swimmers were facing some pretty lumpy water. The group also started to spread out and with the lowering sun, the conditions for them swimmers were challenging. One swimmer fell ill on the boat from sea sickness, but one quick bout and she was then back in the water swimming to the finish.
As tiredness set in, emotions were running high. The conditions pushed us further East than the targeted landing spot but we could see a group of landing supporters gathering on Shoreham Beach.
The swimmers headed for shore, completing their challenge just before sunset and landed with a huge cheer from the supporting crowd on the beach. A fantastic effort by all and it was incredibly heart warming to watch all eight swimmers achieve great things
With tired arms and legs, the swimmers made their way back to the yacht club to receive their special edition Salty Events hat and a well deserved pint!
Here's to next year