Having broken a world record in the GB Row race last year around the UK, Josh Tarr is one of Salcombe’s most loved adventurers. Here he talks about why the South Hams is like one giant playground, and his next challenge rowing across the Atlantic…
What are you up to at the moment?
Trying to keep on top of normal life and helping to organise the next challenge – skippering a crew of eight rowing a 60ft trimaran from Senegal to Brazil in April 2016. It really challenges the typical perception of ocean rowing and it’s exciting to be part of that!
What made you want to sign up for your first ocean row?
A good friend of mine, Jason McKinlay who was my partner in GB Row last year, made it an option. I’d always been up for a challenge and whilst I haven’t always had a lot of success with other things in life, adventures seemed to be a strong point for me. I enjoy them and so far I’ve been relatively successful whether it be cycling, rowing, paddle boarding or kayaking.
What has been your best experience so far?
Coming back into the Thames after a mammoth expedition for GB Row was pretty special! The family and friends are what make it.
What’s been your strangest experience so far?
The first thing that comes to mind is when we were rowing down the east coast of Scotland, it was almost pitch black but you could see the silhouette of tall cliffs only 500m or so away. It was fairly calm and very quiet on the oars by myself in the early hours and I felt a warm breeze run over my neck. Initially I thought it’s just a land breeze or some change in the weather but then after a couple minutes or so the breeze turned extremely cold! It kept changing throughout my two hour stint from a nice warm calming temperature to a bitterly cold shivering temperature every two to 15 minutes. I’m sure it’s down to the weather and shifting breezes from the land and sea but when that creeps up on you out of the blue with no one else around and almost dead silence it’s very eerie…
What keeps you motivated?
Not letting anyone down, including myself. If I find something I like the idea of and decide to take it on, it’s because I think I’ll enjoy the process or think it will benefit me in some way out the other side. It’s easy to lose track once you’re in something though and it becomes easy to bug out when it gets hard, but if you allow yourself to quit you’ll look back and think ‘what if’? I can’t cope with too much of that in my head so I’d rather give it my all and be done with it. It’s different if you give everything and fail because you don’t let anyone down and there’s no ambiguity in the outcome. Also, I might do it myself without knowing but I don’t like the “big talk” around what you’re going to do, tell me about it afterwards, that’s when it gets really interesting to hear! Rule 1: If you say you’re going to do something, frickin’ do it.
What do you think the main difference will be between rowing the Atlantic to rowing around the UK?
I haven’t yet rowed the Atlantic but I think there are two main differences. The first is that the navigation will be much easier on the Atlantic because there’s no land to avoid and the conditions are likely to be more consistent. Secondly the conditions should allow us to keep rowing almost non-stop without needing to stop for tidal windows and flukey weather. So with that in mind it makes it much more of a physical challenge than a tactical one. On a personal note, the big difference in this challenge for me is managing a team and being able to focus more time into getting the most from the conditions, the boat and the people!
Are you nervous about being captain on your Atlantic adventure?
I’m actually not that nervous about skippering (so far), it’s definitely a new challenge for me but as with everything if you can prepare yourself for every scenario you can think of that usually gives you enough knowledge to play with when something you didn’t expect happens. I feel a huge responsibility for my crew and I will give everything to make sure we cross as safely and as quickly as possible in the hope of rewarding them with one of those World Record Certificate thingies!
What are you looking forward to most?
The moment just before arriving in Brazil, knowing we have done everything we can as a team to get us across and hopefully take the world record; that will be the moment for me.
When you’re not on an adventure what do you do in Salcombe?
I like to spend time at South Sands out on the kayaks, surfing or just relaxing down at Bo’s Beach Cafe! I have an unhealthy tab full of Kimi Sundaes.
What’s your favourite thing about the South Hams?
The beauty of it! I’m extremely lucky to live in this area, some seem to think there’s not much to do but out on the coast you have an ever-changing playground!!
What do you want to do next?
After the Atlantic World Record attempt I’ll be skippering in an Atlantic race the following November (2016) and looking at continuing the trend for a few years after as a career. Outside of that I want to focus on challenges away from rowing and I guess I should start to think sensibly about some kind of normal or responsible life?!
Want to join the Atlantic rowing crew? Visit ORCA World Record to find out more!
And here is an amazing video introducing you to Josh’s GB Row: