GSB Ireland

The Brave Boys of Team
Brothers N Oars

Following up with the boys from Brothers N Oars who successfully rowed 4,500km across the Pacific Ocean, from California to Hawaii, in just 39 days. An incredible feat, but we wanted to know how it went. We sat down with Skipper Oliver Amos brother in-law to one of GSB’s own Pheobe Amos.

We’ve spoken with your brother Harry on many occasions who we know to be a real-life action man. So, tell us a bit about yourself and how you came to rowing an ocean?

My name is Oliver Amos and I am Harry Amos’ younger brother. I’m 34 and I live in Sweden with my wife Johanna. I work in the battery storage industry focused on selling large scale sustainable energy storage systems. Unlike my brother, the idea of rowing an ocean seemed like an impossible task to me. 5 years ago, I had never run more than 5km. I was generally a pretty unfit individual, till the pandemic hit. In the summer of 2020, I was in London during the Covid lockdowns, pretty miserable (as many were) and I had a moment of realisation that my life was not going the way I wanted, so I started to concoct a plan to push myself and my limits, which resulted in deciding to row the Pacific Ocean.

So why ocean rowing?

I ask myself that every day, the easy answer is that it was the hardest challenge that I could find. I already knew a few ocean rowers who had told me about their experiences. The beautiful thing about Ocean rowing is it strips away everything! You’re rowing unassisted for 14 hours a day on 6 hours sleep, day in day out for 39 days. You feel physically and mentally drained, tired, exhausted, whilst also often feeling isolated and scared. The thing about rowing an ocean is there is NO turning back and therefore NO choice but to work with your team through the pain and the suffering. We are all faced with a choice – do I stay a prisoner and hide in the cabin or do I lean into this and let it wash through you. And then… there is a wonderful moment when you finally accept your fate and have accepted the new reality that it will be over when it’s over, and all of a sudden you are free… you are free from the shackles of your own mind, and anything is possible.

What was the hardest thing for you when preparing yourself to row an ocean?

Getting to the start line was by far the hardest challenge. It involved raising over £250,000 in sponsorship, of which GSB Capital played a big part in our success. Finding the right team, building mental and physical resilience, learning new skills like navigation, and of course the huge amount of time spent on a rowing machine, were also part of getting to the start line.

What were the highlights to rowing the Pacific?

I’m still trying to digest this question, there were so many highlights but the biggest one was doing this with my brother. I am lucky to have experienced this with him. We were rowing partners throughout the race and I have to say we became so in sync. We shared some amazing moments together during our shifts, including watching beautiful sunsets and sunrises, rowing under the brightest stars and often turning all our instruments off, navigating using the constellations. We saw meteors, shooting stars and what we believed to be UFOs, which turned out to be Elon Musks starlink satellites. We had regular 6-8pm reggae sessions, listened to podcasts, audiobooks, loads of film music like the sound track from Pirates of the Caribbean, but I can’t forget the hours and hours of listening to the Moana soundtrack. I have still not seen the film, but I now know all the words.

Were there any moments where you were scared?

I have to be honest I really struggled at the beginning. Within the first 24 hours we were met with bad weather, facing 30 to 40 feet waves, freezing cold water (10oC) and the shock of our new reality. This lasted for 10 days straight and let me tell you I was at the lowest I had ever been before. Crying on shift, scared, and quite frankly I wanted to give up and get off the boat. If it wasn’t for my brother offering a hand on the leg, the whisper to say “it’s going to be okay” and the rest of the team’s words of encouragement I don’t think I could have completed this challenge.

There was also a time where we were on a direct collision course with a shipping vessel three times the size of the Titanic. It was heading straight for us which was so scary, but right at the last moment to turned away. It got so close that we could see the faces of their crew.

And finally, 3 days before we reached our final destination of Kauai, we were hit by Storm Calvin which brought 70mph gusts and huge waves. However, this time the storm was accelerating us in the right direction. We were surfing the waves reaching a top speed of 13.7knts (25kmph) and we achieved a race record in rowing 170km in a 24-hour period. It was fun until it wasn’t! We had deployed our drogues, which are small parachutes that hang off the stern of the boat to slow us down and keep us in line with the wave. In the middle of the night one of the drogues ripped and tangle around the rudder, which resulted in locking the steering and the boat started going side on to these huge waves. It was too much to handle, I was trying to row out of it and then suddenly my shoulder popped out of its socket. In pain holding my shoulder we were then hit by a rogue wave, which resulted in my body being flung over the safety railing. My head was in the water, but luckily I was still attached via a safety line. If I hadn’t been, I wouldn’t be here today. Probably the scariest moment of my life!

How did it feel when you arrived in Kauai?

We had been at sea for 39 days and had only just come from Storm Calvin, so coming into Hanelei Bay, which is a sight like no other, was a special moment for everyone on the team. To have our friends, family, wives and children there to meet us was definitely one of the happiest moments of my life. When I arrived, I embraced my wife who was pregnant, and she finally told me that we were going to have a son which was the cherry on the icing.

What’s it like being back on dry land?

A relief for sure, but I have to say training for over 3 years with one goal in mind definitely leaves you with a slight void. This is called “adventure blues” and it took some time adjusting to every day life, but I am preparing for a great new adventure of being a parent so I’m super happy to be back on dry land. I am proud that we were able to raise over $150,000 for Blue Marine Foundation & Invictus Games Foundation, food tastes better, beds are more comfortable and my life seems is heading in the right direction. Finally, I must thank all the team at GSB Capital for supporting us from day one, without your support this would still be but a dream.

Oliver Amos
Skipper of Team Brothers N Oars
www.brothersnoars.com

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