An ocean row is about more than the rower. The support on shore is really important too. Having Tony there on the end of the phone, watching, advising and throwing in the motivational titbits during the row and helping with the prep at the start and the ‘catch’ at the end of the row is such a confidence boost. I’m proud to have him on my team and will recommend him to anyone thinking of an ocean row.
It was my initial intention to try and attempt to row solo across the North Pacific Ocean, from West to East in 2012, entirely solo. By that I mean, with no shore support… that was until I met Tony Humphreys. After just a few minutes chatting with Tony, I realized that I was missing crucial items of kit. I asked Tony if he would be available to support me in my solo row attempt and he duly accepted.
Tony’s experience in boat preparation is vast. Tony was on hand to assist me at every step of the way when I was preparing to ship my boat to Japan. This assistance ranged from daily rations preparation to delivering my boat to the freight forwarders for shipping to Japan.
In Japan, Tony played an incredibly important role in assisting me in carrying out the final preparations and checks to my boat and kept me focused on the challenge ahead.
When I left Japan, as agreed, Tony sent me weather forecast updates every 12 hours, so I had the most up-to-date weather forecast available, this became more important as a Typhoon tracked towards my position, five weeks after leaving Japan.
It doesn’t end there though. After activating my EPIRB (emergency beacon), Tony (who was instrumental in planning my Emergency Response Plan) coordinated my rescue and traveled to Vancouver in preparation for my arrival there, so we could quickly load up my boat and ship it back to the UK.
Tony is motivated, trustworthy, capable and experienced. He is the guy you need on your team!
What a challenge to write a short summary about my experiences with Tony Humphreys, and not ending up with a whole book about him. It would cover whole chapters, to tell you how much he helped me with the preparation for my row and during my solo journey from Portugal to Barbados. I probably would have been capable of setting off in my rowing boat without his support in Portugal, for sure – but it’s not certain that I would have been successful in seeing land again on the other side of the Atlantic.
The truth is I had big problems finding experienced people who I could talk to about my concerns about safety. I had concerns as I had never rowed an ocean before, and I had concerns because I am a very careful person and not just mad. I promised my family and myself, that I would not set off in my boat, before all of these concerns were addressed and sorted. And I promised myself I would not set off before someone else, who had the right skills, had cast an eye over all of my preparations and equipment before I left. I promised I would not row before I found a person who was experienced and trustworthy enough to offer me the vital 24/7 support while out there on the ocean.
It was luck, the best luck that a good friend of both of us gave me Tony’s number when I was going to fly to England to look for a suitable boat. It was almost two years before my row when I called him, already packing my suitcase, and what luck again: it turned out that another rowing boat was located on his property and for sale at that time. I changed my travel plans and gave Tony a visit. Well, to make a long story short: It turned out that Tony was not just the person who introduced me to my new boat, which belonged to a rower from Canada, it also turned out that Tony was by far the most experienced person in Ocean Rowing that I have ever met. He knew the answers to all the concerns that I could not address in the past. He simply understood what I was concerned about, he understood my problems with equipment, sponsorship, logistics and everything it takes to make it in such a vessel across an ocean. He always got straight to the issue in discussions and he always came right to the point with his experience. He fully understood me and my challenge.
Over the next two years, I addressed thousands of very special problems with him. I worked for months on the boat and whatever I did: Tony was around with his skills, advice and experience. It was HIS final “OK!“, after he finally spent days with me and the boat, that told my family and me that I was ready to go. It was Tony who convinced me to buy more parachute flares for instance and a second satellite phone. And on a rainy night with high waves in the middle of the ocean, when I found myself tangled in miles of fishing nets, facing a fishing trawler which wouldn’t respond and was going to run me over – these flares quite possibly saved my life. The second satellite phone allowed me to talk to him whenever adrenaline made me feel like the loneliest person alive, at times when I was facing serious danger or when I simply needed an experienced person to talk to about my emotions or concerns. When Whales with tons of weight surfed only inched away from my boat for hours, when sharks approached me at night and bashed my rudder, when tankers or trawlers wouldn’t respond and were aiming right for my vessel, or simply when technical problems drove me almost mad, he always got my problems in a second and in just the next second he said exactly what I needed to hear to calm down and go on. He is straightforward, honest and tells you exactly what you need to know – guesswork or speculations aren’t his business. Furthermore, he owns the contacts and resources to cover whatever it takes to have a successful crossing, even if the unlikeliest events might show up.
Well, I have new plans in my head now, I need a safety coordinator, a project coordinator again in the future. There is no question who I want to hire … and who the person is that my family and friends trust most. I just fear that he might be busy with other projects, as more and more people have the same positive experience with him that I had. Damn, so maybe I should tell you to stay away from this guy so that his calendar is free for my next challenge! But I can’t. So, Tony, I am very proud to call you a true friend now and you deserve a big piece of the cake I made for all people who believed in me and helped me to live my dream. Thank you!
On the recommendation of another ocean rower, I invited Tony to help me with my shore-side logistics in Mauritius at the end of my solo row across the Indian Ocean in 2011. It was the best money I have ever invested. He did a superb job, taking care of all the official and logistical issues quietly and efficiently.
Making landfall after five months at sea could have been bewildering, but with Tony at my right hand I was able to enjoy the experience rather than having to worry about the mundane but important details. He even stepped in to handle negotiations with locals offering to buy items of equipment from my boat, and handled book sales when I gave a presentation at the yacht club.
I really don’t know how I would have managed without him.
My daughter Roz Savage, recently rowed solo across the Indian Ocean. As she drew near to the end of the voyage after well over a hundred days, we needed to make arrangements for her arrival in Mauritius. We were recommended to approach Tony Humphreys. He was very happy to plan to fly to Mauritius at fairly short notice to make arrangements, as he already knew the island and what formalities would be needed. He also had the contacts to arrange for a welcome at the Yacht Club.
As two other rowing boats approaching the island in the past couple of years had ended up being stranded on the coral reefs which almost completely encircle the island, I was very anxious that this should not happen to Roz. Tony gave her excellent guidance from one waypoint to the next in those last miles to ensure her safe arrival, for which I was most grateful.
We might have managed by struggling on our own, but Tony ensured that the whole event was well planned, and carried out smoothly.
Between April and July 2011 I skippered Indian Runner 4 across the Indian Ocean. We began our row in Geraldton, Western Australia and finished some 3,500nm and 75 days later in Mauritius.
Tony met us in Australia where he scrutineered our vessel ensuring we met the highest standards in all aspects of safety and equipment. There was nothing that managed to escape a courtesy check. Ever relaxed, if he wasn’t scrutinising our every detail Tony would be looking at the weather forecast and planning the best departure window or sorting out customs and port clearance.
When we eventually passed his meticulous eye for detail and began our voyage Tony was in constant communication. He would text or email weather forecasts daily and even update our families and friends when there were glitches in our progress or communication systems. Beyond that Tony plotted our every move and followed us constantly on the tracker whilst providing weather routing advice and persistent encouragement. He suggested waypoints, preferred headings and maintenance advice. It was like he knew the boat better than we did!
On arrival in Mauritius Tony guided us in around the treacherous reef, was there to meet us with our families and friends and had even started to plan the shipping for our boat back to the UK.
I could not speak more highly nor find a man more nautically knowledgeable than Tony. Dedicated to his work not only did he support us from start to finish but he became a good friend. If I was ever doing this again, the first person I’d call would be Tony Humphreys.
Being part of a team attempting to become the first four man crew to row unsupported across the Indian Ocean, we were genuinely MIGHTY relieved when we met Tony. Tony joined quite late on in our campaign but we were soon very comfortable and 100% confident that we could rely on him at any point.
We succeeded in our challenge and much was due to the work Tony put in. He organised and helped us with our departure from Australia, carrying out our boat and kit scrutineering, and providing much very useful advice.
We were in touch with Tony every day during the crossing, receiving critical information on weather and routing. In Mauritius Tony not only organised our arrival immaculately, but also kindly made our friends and family feel very comfortable.
In what can be a very testing environment and industry, Tony goes out of his way to help, brings real professionalism, huge experience, loyalty and trust, and I would recommend anyone who is attempting such a challenge to speak with him first. He is without doubt the best man for the job.
In 2011 Ben Stenning and I became the third pair ever to row across the Indian Ocean.
Throughout our 116 days at sea Tony supported us and our families. He was always available which gave us a huge amount of confidence when we were on the ocean. He gave us regular weather updates, posted our daily blog on the website and gave us vital help fixing our water-maker along with advice on subjects as diverse as para anchor retrieval, bottom maintenance and fish identification.
Tony worked tirelessly to save us on our last day when we capsized near Mauritius and was calm and clear-thinking throughout this crisis. He has a great knowledge of ocean rowing and a good eye for detail but more importantly he is honest, optimistic and fun.
If we were crazy enough to row an ocean again we would at least be sane enough to ask Tony to be our Safety Officer again.
Tony played a significant part in the success of our row across the Indian Ocean (April – July 2011), both in terms of the preparation in Australia and on shore support during the voyage.
Tony is an exceptional individual having not only the depth of knowledge required to advise on such a crossing but the character to deal with each and every problem that arose; both on and off the water.
If anyone is mad enough to embark on a similar campaign Tony is undoubtedly the ‘go to’ man.
Tony was an invaluable asset in his advisory capacity for the inaugural extreme rowing race around mainland UK, called Virgin GB Row 2010. His acknowledged expertise and detailed personal understanding of the needs of the Organisers, combined with the aspirations of the competitor was always delivered with style and panache and remains unequalled by any other expert to this day.
An engaging personality, his unerring loyalty to his strong principles of “get it right first time – there may not be a second chance” has generated a huge learning platform for all of the Anglo American Boat Club Ltd members, as well as participants in any ocean rowing events to learn from.
Tony remains a hugely respected and revered expert on the broad spectrum of ocean rowing, he continues to encourage expert and enthusiastic rowers alike, and it is hoped he will remain a friend of GB Row as long as the Race is run.
His input has always been outstanding, his standards never falter and his encouragement to all has been both enthusiastic and absorbing. He gives particular and specific direction to all on any matters relating to Safety – paramount in any waterborne event. His knowledge and broad experience in his chosen field has enabled the Ocean Rowing fraternity to develop and prosper into a hugely successful Sport.
I would like to personally take this opportunity to thank Tony Humphreys for his personal input, the specialist information he willingly offered enabled me to safely deliver GB Row 2010.
My son Tom and his friend Rich entered the 2009 Woodvale Atlantic Rowing Race with their boat Red Arrow. I was the Team Manager so I was heavily involved in the preparation of the boat and the transport of it to the Canaries and its return from the Caribbean.
I first met Tony Humphreys when we took Red Arrow to Woodvale’s offices for a pre-scrutiny check. Tony did that check and I was immediately impressed by his in-depth knowledge of ocean rowing boats and his professionalism. He gave us sound practical advice at that stage which was ultimately useful when we got to the scrutineering stage.
I next met Tony in La Gomera as the teams and boats assembled in the few weeks before the start of the race. Tony scrutineered many of the boats and was a source of knowledge and inspiration to get the boats to the starting line. It is a testimony to his guidance that all the teams made it safely across the ocean.
I would have no hesitation in recommending Tony to anyone interesting in rowing an ocean.
My name is Leo Rosette. I committed to row the Atlantic Ocean solo in 2008 and commissioned a boat to be made. Tony was very much involved in the pre-row preparations of Halcyon and that was how I met him. He gave me sound advice before and during my successful crossing.
After the row, he was responsible for getting Halcyon back in ship shape and showed the boat to a number of prospective buyers until he found a fit for my boat. He negotiated the price, wrote up the contract and delivered Halcyon to her new owner.
Tony has integrity, honesty, and dependability. He never overstates what he can do and always follows through on promises.
If anyone is in need of a boat, help with organizing a row, or selling a boat, Tony is the person I would highly recommend.
My name is Seán McGowan and I’m the first Irish person to row an ocean solo and unsupported.
I met Tony before I left from La Gomera heading to Antigua. Tony’s ability to provide personable practical advice combined with his detailed scrutinising/navigation/boat adjustments etc. was a major factor in my ability to cope with the many problems I encountered.
I can now look back and know that without some of the changes and advice from Tony I’m not sure I would have made it.
My advice to anyone who is looking at going across an ocean is talk to Tony and ask his help – it’s a great way to reduce the risk of failure.
I competed in the Woodvale Atlantic Rowing Race in 2009. During the 2 year build up to the race we dealt with Tony on a very regular basis as he was the Safety Officer for the race.
Prior to signing up to the race, my rowing partner and I had no experience of Ocean Rowing or any sea going experience. We had countless phone conversations, emails and meetings with Tony during this time. His knowledge, guidance and professionalism were invaluable. It gave us the belief we could achieve something extraordinary.
I would certainly recommend working with Tony to ensure that you go to sea as best prepared that you can. Having Tony at the end of the phone when you are at sea is a major advantage. He wouldn’t have worked with so many successful ocean rowers if he wasn’t as good as he is.
We met Tony while preparing for the 2009 Atlantic Ocean Race. Tony proved extremely helpful and competent, guiding us through the technical decisions we had to make, advising safety techniques at sea, and cheering us up.
Tony is really someone you can trust and rely on which is of the greatest importance when undertaking such adventures.
My first contact with Tony was when we were making a few key changes to the front of our ocean rowing boat named Red Arrow. I am pretty sure that I hadn’t been the first person to ask Tony a question, probably a silly question, that day, but as always, he took me through the process step by step. Naturally, I agreed with everything he said although the technical language that he used was way beyond my vocabulary. The interesting thing was, was that he didn’t get annoyed every time I asked him to repeat the answer in more manageable English! That’s Tony down to the ground.
Most Ocean rowers don’t know what they are doing and yet he will take the time to go through any problem, however big or small, and make your knowledge and your boat better for it. That is a unique quality that I think every team should have on their side.
Tony is one of the most professional, sincere and committed people I had the pleasure to interact with during our boat scrutineering before the Indian Ocean Rowing Race 2009. I found him tremendously helpful in assisting us to resolve issues we encountered. With a firm but fair stature, Tony, only had our interest at heart to make our boat and ourselves fit and ready for sea.
Back in 2009, I was part of the four-man team Row4Charity that successfully rowed across the Indian Ocean in 68 days 19 hours and 40 minutes. Not only did we get across safety but we were also fortunate enough to win the race.
Whilst at sea our tracker failed, so we had to call Tony each day to check in. This provided a great opportunity to play the ‘What’s your favourite….’ game, and from memory I believe Tony likes anything with a Mauritius connection.
Such a life changing experience would not have been possible without the assistance of Tony. His expert knowledge gathered from helping so many crews complete Ocean rows is very valuable to anyone wishing to complete an ocean row. Not only will Tony ensure that safety is the top priority for any boat leaving port, he will be able to provide all necessary project management support for your campaign from start to finish.
I first met Tony Humphreys when Frank Festor and myself were entered to participate in the Woodvale Atlantic Rowing Race 2007 from La Gomera to Antigua. Tony was the Safety Officer during the staging and preparation of the boats and Duty Officer while all of the boats were at sea.
In 2009 when I rowed the Indian Ocean as part of the 8-person crew on Audeamus, Tony was responsible for the oganization and logistical planning, including securing adequate facilities to stage a race, through to obtaining port clearances and arranging transport for family and media on Indian Ocean Race.
His knowledge of weather, blue water sailing and of ocean rowing has proven invaluable to people organizing independent projects and rowing races of any distance in any geographical region. I appreciate the guidance and leadership he showed RowofLife in 2007 and his work to establish the first Indian Ocean Race and my participation on Audeamus in 2009.
I have and will continue to refer Tony Humphreys and his company Ocean Pursuits to anyone who wants the safest and best experience possible when undertaking the challenge of rowing an ocean.
Tony was the Duty Officer when my friend Lin and I rowed the Atlantic as part of the 2007 race. Through the scrutineering process he not only ensured we were fully prepared, but had endless suggestions to offer about managing life at sea. His advice proved invaluable.
Once on the water, one of our biggest problems was an electrical failure and we had to rely on external advice to fix the system. Tony co-ordinated the repair by speaking to our electrician and emailing a step by step guide that he’d written so that we could understand and fix the problem. He was on standby next to the phone while we completed the repair. He also went the extra mile and contacted the battery supplier for specific information about out our batteries so that we could stay safe. Neither Lin nor I are particularly confident when it comes to electrics, but at no time were we made to feel inadequate – Tony simply addressed the problem in a way that we could understand and this meant we were able to continue.
We knew that we could call at any time, day or night, and were always treated with respect, whatever our questions! But when we capsized the boat, we knew that we could rely completely on Tony and his calm approach. We were able to talk through the options (to be rescued or not) and decide on a course of action. With his support we completed our race.
With his vast experience of life at sea, combined with his knowledge of boats and their systems, and understanding of human nature, I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend Tony as support for an ocean rowing (or sailing) campaign and have done on many occasions already.
Tony is Amazing!
He helped me get my boat safely ready in La Gomera and has a deep understanding of what these boats are capable of.
He aided in keeping me on track when winds pushed me to far south and I was not as worried as I should have been. When I was too scared to call my family or friends Tony talked me though breaking 30 – 50ft swell near my finish in Antigua.
When it was all said and done he helped me sell my boat.
I do not know what I would have done without Tony and he is my first suggestion to potential ocean rowers!
With deep gratitude