Day 43 – The team behind Doris part 2

Laura Penhaul By

Day 43 – The team behind Doris part 2

In my Day 28 blog I mentioned about how there are a certain few people back home that have and are making this journey special and that without them I have no doubt that we wouldn’t be here today.

The next influential person I want to introduce you to in more detail is our Sports Psychologist, Keith Goddard (Zeus Performance Psychology). Without a shadow of a doubt, Keith has been a rock to this project, the team and to me personally. He has contributed so much to this row, but unbelievably he has done it all in his own time and voluntarily. He has been significant in team selection, for our preparation to get to the start line, for our on the water scenarios, for individual coping strategies, for support to our families and so much more.

I know Keith through my work; Keith and I worked together at the London Paralympics 2012 with Paralympics GB. In this role Keith was working with all of the Paralympic staff/ support team to the athletes to aid our process of communication, understanding of one another and the various roles within the organisation, alongside facilitating ‘what if’ scenarios to ensure we were best prepared as a team going into the Games. We were just coming to the end of the holding camp prior to the London games starting and all the staff knew of my plans to row an ocean. Keith approached me and, for his sins, he kindly offered his services if I needed them. I am sure without doubt that poor Keith had no idea what he had in store for himself. I knew at the time that this row would be 90% mentally challenging and having seen how supportive and influential he had been with us at work, there was no hesitation how much his expertise would be an asset to our row. At the time, the row was only intended to have a 1 year prep time and 6 months at sea. 3.5 years later with delays due to team change, lack of sponsorship and finances, we finally reached the start after a number of hurdles were faced and overcome. Without question, if it wasn’t for Keith, I’m sure I would have questioned continuing forwards and making it to the start line.

So 3.5 years for Keith has encompassed; helping me to co-ordinate team selection (2 full weekends of his time for interviews, then a weekend with for army based sleep deprivation in the Brecons, plus hours of preparation for how to assess each applicant), once a month telephone or Skype conversations with each of the team members involved at that time, once a month full team meeting for a whole day (this usually resided in the Hare & Hounds Pub in Bath where the food is amazing and we could constantly feed Keith with lattes), once a month face to face when he could with each of us but certainly me throughout the time he’s been involved (often I’d meet him at 7am at Waterloo station or around 5pm before or after he had travelled up from Bath for work meetings). This is all pre-row preparations. While we’re now on the water, he’s meeting with Lizanne and Meg to facilitate their transition into the team and he liaises with our families and is a mediator as to whether negative news can be shared with us or not. He also sends us a daily quote and once a week he receives a team review from us.

Not for the first time, it makes me feel quite emotional to think of all this time, expertise, patience and shared belief in the row that Keith has volunteered. What’s worse is that so far I feel there is little we have done to return the gratitude we feel. Ideally we would have loved to get Keith out to Hawaii, not only to facilitate the transition of Lizanne swapping in from Izz, but it would also be a thanks to get him involved on the ground during the project. Unfortunately, the unexpected costs incurred in Santa Barbara have eaten into our contingency budget somewhat and with 2 more legs to go we haven’t been able to afford the cost of Keith’s flights. Skype however is a wonderful thing, so we will have to make do with learning about the Friday funky chicken dance and other quirky habits he has over Skype ;)!

There are very few Keith Goddards in this world and we are so lucky, humbled and proud to have him in our lives. Now we just need to get to Cairns so that a successful trip is a reflection on all his kind efforts. Thank you Keith. X



  1. JG says:

    Just 900 plus NMs to go ! Great progress – well done team. I wonder where in Honolulu exactly you are going to dock?

  2. Barney says:

    Laura, with a little bit of luck Keith will be able to rewrite the book on psychological endurance in women in confined company after this trip. I am sure he is an investor in scientific research! Maybe a Nobel Prize awaits!!!

    • Robert says:

      Laura needs SLEEP, or she may suffer permanent loss of brain function and a compromised immune system. 2 hour watches on a long physically exhausting voyage are not sensible …

  3. Robert says:

    Solo rower John Beeden left San Francisco on June 1 bound for Australia. After a slow start because he wasn’t routed well he is now rowing down the trade winds at up to 2.8 knots and is just South of the Coxless Crew’s 27 degrees North and 474 nautical miles East of them. A stop at Hawaii on a row to Australia does not leave you with many options on the second leg as Roz Savage found out the hard way. John Beeden is sensible to row across the ITCZ & Equator into the South Easterly Trades as soon as an opportunity presents itself. (Note: 1 man is rowing faster than 4 women, now how could that be:)

    • Barney says:

      The disadvantage for the girls is they carry 2 non-rowers all the time. Next time the boat needs to have capability of 4 rowing positions so they can all row and all rest as John is effectively doing. I have visions of pressing a button and the bow cover opens up to reveal 2 extra seats!

      • Robert says:

        2 extra rowers weigh nothing compared to boat 750kg + supplies 250Kg at start. Girls need 8 hour watches so each pair gets a decent sleep and watches rotate through 24 hours. they alo need to row as a pair (1 oar each) not a double scull (2 oars each). Moving the buttons down the sleeves to move the handles in a bit would also give them more leverage as well as being able to concentrate all their power into the one blade. But in spite of all that Tony Humphreys routing is the main factor that gave them an average speed over the first month of 1 knot!!! that is unheard of in an East to West Trade wind row . John Beeden is just lucky that because he is aiming for the South Pacific Tony had to route him into the good winds he is in now, but because Tony stuffed up on his early routing South from San Francisco his average speed is only 1.3 knots. The girls are still too close to the high so their speeds are suffering.
        When you’re routing an ocean rowing boat you must take into account that in a decent following wind +- 30 degrees 2/3 of the power comes from the wind and only 1/3 from the rower(s)!!!

  4. […] seems a long time ago that Laura and the crew wrote a blog about me (Day 43 June 25th) and a lot of water has passed under the ‘boat’ since then! At the time it was lovely to hear […]

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