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Dr Jutta Tobias Mortlock standing with all four members of the HMS Oardacious team crew at their team mindfulness workshop
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Mindful submariners embark on Atlantic rowing challenge

The HMS Oardacious team develop essential mindfulness techniques with support from City’s Centre for Excellence in Mindfulness Research (CEMR).

by Shamim Quadir (Senior Communications Officer)

This month, four British submariners began their 3,000-mile row across the Atlantic, as they powered across the start line in La Gomera, Canary Islands, Spain.

HMS Oardacious are among the 35 teams to take on what must be the ‘world’s toughest row’, the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge.

The race is set to take between 20-40 days, with teams venturing in an unsupported row from La Gomera to Antigua in the Caribbean.

The four Royal Navy submariners, who make up HMS Oardacious, aim to be the first team to cross the finish line, and to raise over £125,000 to provide Mental Health and Wellbeing support to the Submarine community, and are working closely with the Royal Navy and Royal Marines Charity (RNRMC) to achieve this.

Pictured above, the crew is made up (from left to right) of Lieutenant Hugo Mitchell-Heggs from Sheffield, Lieutenant Callum Fraser from Basingstoke, Petty Officer Dylan Woods from Northern Ireland and Leading Engineer Technician Matt Harvey from Kirkaldy.

The importance of team mindfulness

Dr Jutta Tobias Mortlock with the HMS Oardacious crew at the team mindfulness workshop

Prior to departure, the team took time to prepare mentally and emotionally for their voyage by taking part in a team mindfulness workshop with Dr Jutta Tobias Mortlock, Co-director of the Centre for Excellence in Mindfulness Research (CEMR), at City, University of London.

Reflecting on their relationship with Dr Mortlock and the University, Lieutenant Hugo Mitchell-Heggs said:

We‘re incredibly grateful to Jutta & the City, University of London team for their support & expertise, helping the HMS Oardacious team develop essential mindfulness techniques that will lend themselves to the success of our epic Atlantic crossing both as individuals and as a team.

Dr Tobias Mortlock said:

“We have been engaged in a research partnership with the Royal Navy on mindfulness and mental resilience, and it has been my privilege to facilitate a mental fitness workshop for the four crew members of HMS Oardacious, the Royal Navy crew intent on rowing across the Atlantic in December in the Talisker Whiskey Challenge.

"These courageous men have been unafraid to share their hopes and fears about this challenge of a lifetime during our session, and we discussed and practiced together mindfulness-based pathways towards sustaining their resilience along their journey. We wish them all the very best of success, gods speed and a fair wind”

Leading Engineer Technician, Matt Harvey, said:

“Our culture as submariners seems like the perfect preparation for the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge, whether it is knowing everything there is to know about our boat, looking out for our team mates, managing watch systems, all while contending with sleep deprivation and dealing with the emotions of leaving our loved ones.”

The team are expected to tackle 20 foot-waves on their journey, rowing for two hours, and sleeping for two hours, 24 hours a day – losing an average of 12 kilos.

Grandmother of Dylan, Sylvia Woods, was there among the spectators when the team embarked upon their voyage and shared:

“We are so, so proud of the boys, they are a great team and I have been told to prepare their bangers and mash on their return.”

Find out more

Visit the HMS Oardacious website to keep up with the crew's progress, and follow them on Twitter.

Read the HMS Oardacious crew's blogs including Team Leader, James Tuhey's, about the importance of their preparations, including their support from Dr Tobias Mortlock in helping them manage their 'inner chimps'.

For more about team and other forms of mindfulness practice, visit the Centre for Excellence in Mindfulness Research (CEMR) website.

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