Day 3, Leg 55 – Performance v Enjoyment

Laura Penhaul By

It’s the debate of doing a ‘Cracknell versus Fogle’; James Cracknell being an Olympic gold medallist in rowing and renown for pushing his body to the extreme, often passing out before giving up, compared to Ben Fogle, a tv presenter with no competitive history to date.  If anyone saw the Atlantic Row race where these pair were in the competition together, they had a documentary filmed and aired on BBC called ‘Hell and High Water’.  The underlying message that came from their row was how as a team you need to be aligned in what your aim is.  For Fogle, his aim was getting from A to B and just finishing the race.  For Cracknell, it was getting from A to B the fastest, and, with performance in his blood, winning the race was his motivation.  So, although the pair had the same end goal of reaching Antigua, their thoughts on how they got there were very different.  This led to numerous disagreements on the boat and for Cracknell a great deal of frustration, for Fogle a real hardship and negative journey, never feeling he could do enough.  However, the interviews post row show how actually the diversity between the pair brought them together; Cracknell said that he grew absolute upmost respect for Fogle for his unrelenting contribution and he wouldn’t have rowed with anyone else as he taught Cracknell how to enjoy the journey.  Fogle too reported that without Cracknell they would have never made it to Antigua and he had taught him so much about stepping outside his comfort zone to see what the body can really do.  The pair have gone on to do a number of further expeditions together and I don’t know if it was a myth, but word on the street was that Cracknell was best man at Fogle’s wedding, so although there were disagreements, their relationship grew rather than suffered.  A perfect example of how opposites can actually work together.

So why do I reminisce about this story…. well right now we are approximately 650nm away from Cairns, which if we can keep 50nm days, means we’re just 14 days away from our arrival and this is pretty convenient seeing as the food audit yesterday highlighted we only have 14 days worth of main meals left.  So, I come to find myself in a ‘Cracknell’ headspace.  Without a doubt I have enjoyed this journey, thanks largely to the influence of my team mates, but it’s no secret that I am ready to step off Doris as the typical feeling of the finish line being in sight but yet still so far away.  Yet I know half the team are more in a ‘Fogle’ headspace and, rightly so, have highlighted how they wish to enjoy these lasting 2/3weeks aboard Doris.  So, with now an added time pressure of our food running out, our parents all having booked flights with return flight dates cutting it fine for our arrival, combined with us having no wind and little current to assist us, if we don’t step up our performance then we won’t be arriving in 2 weeks.  If we make the next two weeks about performance only, it’ll make our last two weeks on Doris hell and those less used to being in a performance environment with pressure will really struggle mentally and potentially ruin this whole experience.  However, if we focus solely on enjoying the journey and pretty much going with the flow, then we’ll never get there before the end of January or even February at this rate!  So, I ask myself, how can we collaborate a Cracknell and Fogle approach so that we are all facing the same direction together?

I brought the team together for a quick pow wow today to see where we all were in our expectations and thoughts about finishing. I used the tool of the 7 hats that Keith our Psych had introduced to us; blue hat first to state the facts i.e. 14 days of main meals, 50nm p/day needed to arrive in 14 days, black and white hats to state my opinions both positive and negative on the situation I.e. Our end goal is the same but the path we’re taking is maybe different  within the team, red and yellow hats to highlight my emotions around the subject I.e. Feelings of frustration and then the green hat, ideas as to how we can overcome the differences and realign. Then there was a chance for each crew member to voice their own opinions/ emotions/ ideas. Collectively we agreed that we need to step it up but not so much that we loose the enjoyment of it, so plan of action is to state at the beginning of the shift with our row partner, as to how the shift should look like i.e. row hard for an hour and then steady for 45 mins. Ems too is going to give each of us more row tips to aid in efficiency of our rowing technique where we may have got complacent. We’re also going to tighten up on our handovers on the oars to minimise time loss between shifts. Small things that soon add up but are simple to change, all whilst ensuring we keep some enjoyment in our music shifts and Megs also is going to look into rewards for days that pass rather than just mileage.  So fundamentally we’re collaborating the two approaches so we are all on the same page/same boat and going in the right direction together.

This row has always been about the journey, more of a ‘Fogle’ approach, it was specifically not part of a competitive race such as that of the Atlantic for that very reason.  Coming from someone who can be slightly competitive and serious about training, being part of a race would have had very different aims and certainly would have brought my ‘Cracknell’ side out a lot earlier!  With this row we have had goals to still meet but agreed on the flexibility of being able to enjoy the wildlife that we have encountered, added in socials as a team in the middle of the Pacific, enjoyed swims etc. so that we remain socially cohesive as a team  and without a doubt I wouldn’t ever have changed our approach to this journey.  Given the conditions, the set backs and delays that we’ve faced, if we were a team that were serious all the time and focussed purely on the numbers, I believe we wouldn’t be here today and if we were, we certainly wouldn’t be here with smiles on our faces, having enjoyed the ups and downs and I very much doubt we would be stepping off the boat as lifelong friends.  Within the diversity of the team, without realising it, there has always been a reasonable balance of Cracknell v. Fogle outlooks and opinions. No different to before, this team will pull together and dig deep when needed and laugh throughout the whole process. This row has shown us how performance and enjoyment can coexist, but maybe ask yourself whether you need a little more Cracknell or Fogle in your life to give you the motivation or the enjoyment you need to succeed. 

Today has been a scorcher! I think my body has got out of the habit of dealing with pan flat conditions, still air and stifling heat, because at midday today, rowing was torture! That being said it is bitter sweet, beautiful scenery and no salty splashes, but that also means no prevailing winds or currents to push us along to Cairns, so back to snail pace for a day. doh! X



  1. Babs says:

    Hi Girls, great blog Laura, and as a mother please keep in the Cracknell mode, we just want you back on dry land and in the arms of your families. However, still enjoy the ride, just remember how much fun it is on a roller coaster! Stay safe xxxx

  2. JG says:

    Here’s my two pence worth. If you crack on it’s going to take 14 days or so and a fortnight is not going to ruin what you have built up over the year. The strength of your relationships will get you through the strains of extra effort and, as you said, small efficiencies have already been made which combined will add up to a significant improvement in progress. Minimise the times when the oars are still – try and keep a pair of oars on the move all the time. Regard the past months as your ‘holiday’ as it were and the next two weeks as back to work. As I see it food stocks is the pivotal factor.
    But then what do I know! I’m just voicing a few pebbles in the pond of thought. You will have worked out what to do in conjunction with your support team.
    A touch of Cracknell is needed in everything, to at least maintain the momentum, otherwise everything just grinds to a halt (As Ben Fogle pointed out).
    I’m just part of the crowd cheering you on to win!

    Take care and keep safe.

    • JG says:

      Just to clarify what I meant by a touch of Cracknell. I was referring to life in general. Even working at a marriage relationship I regard as a Cracknell approach and my understanding of the Crackenell approach is the intention to improve and succeed. So – you have probably already applied that!

  3. Laura a great blog, I can understand why you are seeing the finish as nearly here but still a while away. I remember during deployments Id enjoy them but those last few weeks were spent thinking more about whats going on at home and seeing family, friends and what have I missed. It’s been such a journey and although you all have other life commitments to return to Doris and your journey will be a big part of your life for many years to come! Bring out that competitive side it will bring some excitement but do stop even just for ten minutes to reflect on each day xxx ps ive got the bottle of Albion whiskey awaiting to toast your arrival into Cairns!!!

  4. Jim Andrews says:

    You have already won the race, nothing is chasing you other than the need to get past the finish line with at least 1 beef curry left. Your strength and that of your various crews has been immense. Though you talk of Cracknell and Fogle attitudes, it is Penhaul, Cohen & Mitchell attitudes predominantly, that have gotten you, where you are today. Those same individual strengths with Meg will see you complete these last couple of weeks. Good sense to have everyone singing off the same song sheet but I think, you must all have the same target at this point. Unlike the two previous times of making land, this time you will not be getting back on Doris, you have earned your stripes, enjoy every moment you have left. Stay safe. XX

  5. Anne says:

    I agree with Jim – you have already won the race – now just get to Cairns safely and as quickly as you can – we cannot wait to see all of you. Your individual strengths have been phenomenal – that is why you have so many followers and fans.xx

  6. Enjoy the rest of your journey, afterall it’s not something you will ever be doing again……….? You are the only people who can decide whether to just go for it and get to the finishing line as soon as possible or take time to “smell the roses” along the way. Yes, your families are anxious to meet you in Cairns but they can always change their flights. (Just ask your Dad, Laura!) Stay safe. xxxx

  7. Simon TY says:

    One of the things I most admire is the open way you discuss everything. There is a shortage of meals and a way to go, and yet a desire to enjoy every moment. So, you discuss it, agree, and get on with it. A balance is sought and you will combine a rare steak and chips to come attitude on the oars while you enjoy the mighty ocean.

    Life is a balance between “use yr talents and do everything you can” and “life is not a race, learn to chill”.

    I hope you remain safe, I hope you make great progress, and I hope that you row for the next fortnight with a monstrous grin of pride, enjoyment and smugness. In a few days you will be able to say what no one else can: I’ve lived off beef curry for 250 days……..oh, no that is not what I meant…..” I rowed to Australia”.


  8. Judith Mills says:

    Great blog Laura.
    Almost there is, I feel, a strange place as you are close to an ending and close to a new beginning. So is it best to rush to the new or savour the old just a little longer.
    You are a team and reach your decisions together and it is important to still travel with those smiles on your faces and enjoy the rest of your journey.
    Stay strong and keep safe. xxxx

  9. Anna C says:

    In a pre-Christmas blog, one of you wrote that you had drunk nothing but water during the row. Thinking about that and about the remaining days of your challenge (and before I had read that you actually had some Baileys on board to toast in the new year), I decided to undertake a mini-challenge of my own: my task is to stay off alcohol in 2016 until you reach the shore. OK, it shouldn’t really be that difficult, but since I am one of those fifty-something professional women who enjoy a glass or two of wine nearly every day, to the point where we are supposedly destroying our brain cells, I thought I might be saving on the country’s health bill, as well as doing a little something in sympathy with the four of you. From next week, I will be checking on Doris’s progress slightly earlier in the evening than usual, looking forward to having my first drink of the year in your honour!!
    Best of luck with the last couple of weeks.
    Anna C xx

  10. Most thought provoking of all the blogs!! Girls, you are all doing a fantastic job. Draw on each others strengths, and support each others weaker points. But don’t beat yourselves up about either! Just look back on what you have achieved, and take that to the end all the way to Cairns. Most of us haven’t achieved a scintilla of what you are about to achieve. So go girls go!!!!
    Our love & prayers to you all,
    Carol & Jim
    PS: I think it should be ‘Leg 3 Day 55’!!!!!! That’s a ‘Cracknell’ for you

  11. Barney says:

    Robert will back me on this one – don’t bust a gut, nature is in control of your progress far more than your arms and legs can ever be. Stay in the happy place for as long as you can and start the rationing now! Did you restock on the Oreos?

  12. Mike S. says:

    Although knackered from a rowing shift I find it unbelievable that you girls have the energy & time to blog out your emotions & philosophies. Obviously tired bodies but not minds. Here’s wishing you Godspeed. Great effort.

  13. Esther B says:

    Another great blog Laura; I love your honesty and every single post from all of you has been fascinating.

    It must be hard to know what to do for the best; speed up or “take it easy”. It sounds like you have all made the decision together to do a bit of both and for what it’s worth, I agree with your approach. It would be rubbish to run out of food but also a shame to not appreciate where you are and what you have accomplished.

    Of course, I never want you to stop rowing as I have loved following your journey but I am really looking forward to hearing that you have made it to Cairns safe and sound and are in the company of your family and friends.

    Keep going girls! We are all with you xxxxxx

  14. Jim Andrews says:

    Having just read the other contributions, I have decided to support both the Coxless Crew and Anna C. I too will abstain from the evil (but quite enjoyable) tipple, until you are safely ashore in Cairns, upon which joyful news, I shall toast your good health, safe arrival and fantastic achievement. Smile with every mile, Stay Safe. XX

  15. Simon TY says:

    Ok, in for a penny, in for a pound. I also will abstain until you arrive at Cairns. However, knowing my weak will, I pledge to buy a mile for every unit before then….( means I can justify a drink as a charitable gift).

    Now, hurry along girls. I need a drink


  16. Ray P says:

    Ok in for a penny, in for a pound. I will do the opposite as I don’t drink very much but watching that pink boat oh so slowly moving towards Cairns and having spent most of today sorting out flights that are flexible without costing a fortune I NEED a drink!! ps Laura my Christmas present arrived late, your Mum’s lost her voice!!


  17. Great blog Laura. Not long now & I know how very excited your family are to have you all home in two weeks. Such a truly amazing achievement although now I’m sure you will be happy to finish. I wish you full speed ahead but mostly keep safe. Xx

  18. kim says:

    keep up the great work gir;s. you can do it. awesome blog laura

  19. Great blog post Laura. Can’t believe your so nearly there! Amazing work and sounds like you’ll find the right balance between you to get you there smiling. Lots of love Tor xx

  20. You girls are utterly amazing with your insights, your attitude and self-searching and awareness. I love the way you discuss and understand each others perspectives and make it work for everyone to stay happy. I remain in awe of both your achievement and the people you are. xx

  21. […] what we set out to. We also bumped into the lovely Marina Fogle, who had a giggle with us about the Fogle/Cracknell blog that Laura wrote during leg 3, and Greg James, who is about to do 5 back-to-back triathlons for […]

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