Across the Atlantic Ocean in a Rowing Boat:

Atlantic Guardsmen on the Talisker Whiskey Atlantic Challenge

STEVIE B [00:00:00] More people have climbed Everest, than completing the crossing across the Atlantic on a rowing boat. I hope that doesn't make you feel any worse but.. 

BETTY BALL [00:00:07] Mate! 

JOHN ADAMS [00:00:07] It makes us feel better to be honest, because you want to be in that percentage of people that's done something that other people haven't. 


JOHN ADAMS [00:00:20] Fitness wise, I think you've gotta be mentally fit rather than physically fit. During the day, you're looking at burning 10,000 calories. In the boat I'll be on an eight thousand calorie diet. Trying to get in the boat routine - cooking on a boat, sleeping on a boat... (OVERLAPPING MONTAGE) Just getting to that start point and hearing that claxon going, knowing it's just us four against the ocean, that. think that- that's what I'm looking forward to the most.

STEVIE B [00:00:50] I'm quite good at geography. I know how big the Atlantic is on a world map. 

JOHN ADAMS [00:00:55] (LAUGHS) 

STEVIE B [00:00:55] Nn, no listen.. I know how how how big it is on on scale around the world is what I'm saying. 

BETTY BALL [00:01:01] What is it? 

STEVIE B [00:01:01] Well, England's that big. 



SOUNDS [00:01:01] (THEME TUNE) 

STEVIE B [00:01:12] Hello Betty. 

BETTY BALL [00:01:12] Hello darling. I'm Betty Ball. 

STEVIE B [00:01:14] I'm Stevie B. 

BETTY BALL [00:01:15] He's a Mackem. 

STEVIE B [00:01:15] And she's from South Shields. 

BETTY BALL [00:01:17] And this is Speak Up Sunderland, whoo! 


STEVIE B [00:01:23] So what we'd like to do is invite our guest tonight. We're very very excited. So, I met him at the [Sunderland International] Airshow. Please give a huge round of applause for John Adams. 


STEVIE B [00:01:37] Sit in our comfy seat, John. 

BETTY BALL [00:01:40] Grab a pew. 

JOHN ADAMS [00:01:41] Alright, can you hear us alright? 

BETTY BALL [00:01:41] Why aye. I'm really excited that he's sat here cause he's, er, not unfortunate looking. 


STEVIE B [00:01:50] You really need to stop drinking. 

BETTY BALL [00:01:51] It's cake, that's what happens when you give us cake. 

STEVIE B [00:01:52] Is that what it is? Oh God, you've had cake and drink, excellent. 

BETTY BALL [00:01:54] Bless him. Tell us a little bit about yourself. 

JOHN ADAMS [00:01:59] Right, erm.. John Adams. Born and bred in Sunderland. For the last ten years though I've lived in Manchester. 

BETTY BALL [00:02:04] Ah ye? 

JOHN ADAMS [00:02:04] Yeah yeah. So I've been out with touch a bit with the city, so coming here today I've had a little bit of an explore. This is the first time I've actually been to this pub. 

BETTY BALL [00:02:12] Canny, init? 

JOHN ADAMS [00:02:14] (LAUGHS) So, I'm looking over the road. Can't see the Black Bull any more, that's just different. So I can see the changes happening in the city already. 

STEVIE B [00:02:20] Half the [Crowtree] Leisure Centre left. 

JOHN ADAMS [00:02:21] Yeah. 

BETTY BALL [00:02:21] What are you sat here for? 

JOHN ADAMS [00:02:24] Right, I'm part of a crew of four people who've decided to row across the Atlantic Ocean. 

BETTY BALL [00:02:29] What? 

JOHN ADAMS [00:02:30] Erm this year. 

STEVIE B [00:02:31] Right, just repeat that again because I want everyone to hear what he's, what he's doing. 

JOHN ADAMS [00:02:34] (LAUGHS) Yeah, I'm part of a crew of four people who have decided to row across the Atlantic Ocean this year. 3000 miles, straight across, all for charity. 

STEVIE B [00:02:44] See, so it's not, you know.. He hasn't gone across a lake, he hasn't gone to South Shields or something, he hasn't bought a diny.. 

BETTY BALL [00:02:48] (LAUGHING) South Shields! 

STEVIE B [00:02:48] He's going across the Atlantic. 

JOHN ADAMS [00:02:51] I'd like to stress I was sober when I accepted the challenge as well. 

AUDIENCE [00:02:56] (LAUGHTER). 

JOHN ADAMS [00:02:56] I was asked, approximately about a year and a half ago, like I said, sober, and I just jumped on the chance because I thought, well, this kind of opportunity only comes round maybes once in a lifetime. And especially when you're doing it for a good cause as well, well why wouldn't you do it? 

BETTY BALL [00:03:09] So there's four of you. You've got Colin, who's also from Sunderland, he's from Silksworth. 

JOHN ADAMS [00:03:14] He's also from Sunderland, yeah, I've known him for like 19 year. 

BETTY BALL [00:03:16] And then you've got John. 

JOHN ADAMS [00:03:17] John Ford, yeah, he's the Captain, and he's from Scotland. 

BETTY BALL [00:03:21] So he's King Crazy. 

STEVIE B [00:03:22] (LAUGS) 

BETTY BALL [00:03:23] And then you've got Derek Spence. 

JOHN ADAMS [00:03:25] Yes, Derek Spence is from New Zealand, but currently lives in Aylesbury. 

DEREK SPENCE [00:03:29] This is Derek Spence, and I'm proud to be rowing for the Scots Guards charity. The charity does outstanding work to support our vets, serving soldiers and their families. We wanted to do something that was worthy of the charity, and it doesn't come much bigger than rowing the Atlantic. 

BETTY BALL [00:03:45] And then you've got your fabulous self, so tell us how all four of you are together. 

JOHN ADAMS [00:03:50] It's a funny one because Derek and John, being the crazy people that they are, they'd done the Marathon Des Sarbles, which is the desert marathon. 

BETTY BALL [00:03:57] Oh right. 

JOHN ADAMS [00:03:58] Where it's like seven days you run a marathon. Every day for 6 days, and then the last thing you do two marathons. Anyway, they got together and said "ah, shall we do it again?" They'd done it again, and then they said "ah, shall we do it again?" They thought, "No let's do something different." And they thought "sack the desert, let's row across an ocean. I bumped into John Ford, 'cause our paths crossed in the recruitment side of life, in the army. 

BETTY BALL [00:04:20] Ah, so army bases, that's where all four of yous... 

JOHN ADAMS [00:04:21] Yeah yeah yeah, I was just kind of those chance meetings, and he said "How would you feel about rowing across the Atlantic Ocean?" And I said, "Yeah why not?" (LAUGHS)

STEVIE B [00:04:30] (LAUGHS) Yeah, yeah 'cause that's the normal answer back isn't it? You know, "yeah!". 

JOHN ADAMS [00:04:32] Well, again I thought "well, when am I ever gonna get asked to row across an ocean?" Possibly never, probablys never accepted again anyway. 

BETTY BALL [00:04:39] I'm not being funny, but that's a very blasé way of saying such a mammoth challenge - which you will complete, which is absolutely outstanding. But you've got quite a lot of obstacles to, kinda, get through. Can you tell we' a little bit? 

JOHN ADAMS [00:04:53] God, I don't know where to start. I mean, from when we accepted the challenge, or when I accepted the challenge, it was hammered into you from day one that the hardest part is getting to the start line. The actual rowing part, you probablys find easy, but just getting there, getting your boat together, getting the crew together, getting the equipment together, and everything else that comes with that, is the hardest part. 

BETTY BALL [00:05:12] Where is the start line start line? 

JOHN ADAMS [00:05:14] Start line is in La Gomera in the Canary Islands. 

BETTY BALL [00:05:16] And where's the finish? 

JOHN ADAMS [00:05:17] Antigua. Now you're thinking I'm getting a nice little holiday in the Canary Islands, nice at the holiday in Antigua, but, the catch is you gotta go there. 

STEVIE B [00:05:24] I know your plan here, you see, it's one straight line where the sun's all the time, so you're doing it for a suntan, really, aren't you? 

JOHN ADAMS [00:05:31] I wish I was, yeah. 

BETTY BALL [00:05:33] I'm not being funny, but I know this is probably not a question to ask - how one earth are you going to go to the toilet? 

JOHN ADAMS [00:05:37] We've got a we've got a nice comfy bucket. (LAUGHS)

BETTY BALL [00:05:40] Whoa. I know that's not a question that would automatically go through people's heads, but, like, how? 

JOHN ADAMS [00:05:44] We've been doing training rows where the main emphasis has been on trying to get in the boat routine - cooking on a boat, sleeping on a board, or trying to sleep on a boat, going to the toilet on a boat.. Because it's such a.. As I mean if you saw it at the [Sunderland International] Airshow, you probablys thought "that's a huge boat". 

STEVIE B [00:05:59] It was massive. 

JOHN ADAMS [00:06:00] Until you're on an ocean, and you realise it's minuscule. And the smallest movement, it just moves around. 'Cause it's so light for the size of it, and when you've got four people on you've gotta coordinate.. If you stand up, and you want to move like two feet away, you gotta say "right I'm moving to the right of you, and people have gotta move over, like.". 

BETTY BALL [00:06:21] Do you want to try and like paint a picture from one end of the boat to the other? What you've actually got in your quarters and so on. 

JOHN ADAMS [00:06:27] You've basically got two covered cabins, one either end. And that's the sleeping quarters. And if you can imagine the rowing machines, you've got kind of them, behind each other, in between. And that is it. And you got all your storage space underneath. So you're pretty much, when you're rowing, you've got no cover at all, you're basically at the mercy of the sun. And then when you go into your sleeping cabin, that's when you're under cover. But because you gotta keep the hatches closed its like a greenhouse, so you're kind of kind of.. sweating. 

STEVIE B [00:06:57] So what kind of like dangers and hazards.. I mean you've obviously looked, if you're going to go from that point to that point.. 

JOHN ADAMS [00:07:01] Hmm. 

STEVIE B [00:07:01] How do you know what hazards you're going gonna get? 

JOHN ADAMS [00:07:04] I was kind of fortunate in a way that I knew someone who'd done in 2016. 

BETTY BALL [00:07:09] Oh, so this is a regular yearly occurrence? 

JOHN ADAMS [00:07:10] It's a race that happens every year. I didn't even know people rode across oceans, awful people just got either flew over them or got a ferry across, but.. 

STEVIE B [00:07:16] (LAUGHS). 

JOHN ADAMS [00:07:16] My friend, well my friend, he was my boss actually, but he came in and said "ah, I'm doing this row", and I thought "OK then." I kind of lived the same journey as him on a 9-to-5 basis, where he was 24/7 living this journey. And I kind of saw from the start to the very end, and he came back and showed us these pictures of whales and dolphins, and the sunset over the Atlantic, and everything else that came with it and, kind of had this like romantic portfolio of him just having a nice little row across the Atlantic. And then after that he showed us the horror pictures of what happens when you sit in a seat for two on two off every day, and you get the rubs, and the sores, and the salt sores and everything anything else. 

STEVIE B [00:07:52] Lovely. 

JOHN ADAMS [00:07:52] So I kind of got the good, the bad, and the ugly of the whole thing way before I got asked to do it. But when he came back and he said "Oh, I've rowed across the Atlantic Ocean, it was just a whole thing of - you don't meet many people who's done that kind of thing, and I want to be one of them people. 

BETTY BALL [00:08:05] It's quite a statement, and one hell of a CV, I have to admit. 

JOHN ADAMS [00:08:08] Yeah. 

BETTY BALL [00:08:08] But for this actual race there's 30 teams.. 

JOHN ADAMS [00:08:12] Yep. 

BETTY BALL [00:08:12] ..From around the world that compete. And then they have their own routes to get around. It says, from what I've found, it is 1.5 Million oar strokes. 

STEVIE B [00:08:22] (LAUGHTER). 

JOHN ADAMS [00:08:22] Yeah. It's divided between four. 

STEVIE B [00:08:27] Oh, that's fine!


BETTY BALL [00:08:27] But still! 

STEVIE B [00:08:27] It's a breeze. 

BETTY BALL [00:08:27] And that's 40 days at sea. 

JOHN ADAMS [00:08:33] That's the average, yeah. 

BETTY BALL [00:08:33] And six metre waves. 

JOHN ADAMS [00:08:35] Yeah. 

BETTY BALL [00:08:36] And there's four of you. 

JOHN ADAMS [00:08:38] There's four of us, and.. 

BETTY BALL [00:08:39] And there's four of you. 

AUDIENCE [00:08:39] (LAUGH). 

JOHN ADAMS [00:08:41] Yeah! We'll be doing two hours rowing, two hours kind of resting. 

STEVIE B [00:08:47] (LAUGHING) Kind of resting! 

JOHN ADAMS [00:08:47] Trying to rest anyway. 

STEVIE B [00:08:47] So is that how it works, then? Two people row, two people... 

JOHN ADAMS [00:08:51] That's the kind of routine you want to get on to make it more efficient. The idea behind it is if you do too much on the rows, your performance will drop, and you're not really resting that much anyway. So, I think two on two off's the most effective way of getting the maximum out of you, rest wise and performance wise. But again, it comes with the boat and your people and, you know, your body yourself, and if you can do three on three off, fine, if not stick to what.. You can chop and change as you go along, but again it's all down to the boat. 


CAPTAIN JOHN FORD [00:09:22] So we've moored up for the night after 43 nautical miles rowed. Rowed for about 8 hours, so 43 nautical miles is not bad, just over five an hour. Derek, how's it been for you? 

DEREK SPENCE [00:09:33] It's been really good, it's been a good day. Beautiful weather. John only got seasick once. 

CAPTAIN JOHN FORD [00:09:37] You had to mention that, didn't you? 

DEREK SPENCE [00:09:37] (LAUGHTER) I did. 

CAPTAIN JOHN FORD [00:09:37] Yeah, yeah. Great, thanks. Move onto John then. 

JOHN ADAMS [00:09:45] Yeah, it was a good day. Good long days. We finally got to see the wind farm, and remembered sun cream this time, so, it's been easier on the skin as well. But I think all in all, the weather's been kind to us today. 


STEVIE B [00:09:58] What about, because obviously what's going to be really key to it as well is your intake, what you eat.. 'Cause that's going to be critical, isn't it? 

JOHN ADAMS [00:10:05] Yeah yeah. It kind of got drummed into you, when we'd done the first ocean rowing course was, "go there heavy. Don't think you need to be super fit to row across an ocean", cause it's the opposite. You need to pack on as much weight as you can, so you've got emergency muscle and fat to bad burn off. 

STEVIE B [00:10:21] Do you need an extra? 

BETTY BALL [00:10:21] Mate, there's loads of cake there if you need to take it. 

AUDIENCE [00:10:21] (LAUGHTER). 

STEVIE B [00:10:21] Well that's what I mean, we heard that and was like, kind of, "I haven't been for a run for the best part of a year", and it's all been about just building my body up,  eating. At the minute, I'm on a 3000 calorie diet. But on the boat I'll be on an 8,000 calorie diet, of just eating as much as I can, because during the day you're looking at burning 10,000 calories. 

BETTY BALL [00:10:43] So what food are you actually going to be eating? Because bearing in mind you're there for quite a while. 

JOHN ADAMS [00:10:47] We've got our nutrition planned out, and it's mostly dehydrated rations. Lots of porridge, protein shakes. Just quick stuff you can get down you. 

BETTY BALL [00:10:54] Yeah. 

JOHN ADAMS [00:10:55] Snacks, cheeses, beef jerky, protein bars, nuts. 

BETTY BALL [00:10:59] How are you going to keep all of the dairy cool?

JOHN ADAMS [00:11:03] Erm, I think that's gonna be the first thing to go, to be honest. 

STEVIE B [00:11:05] (LAUGHS). 

JOHN ADAMS [00:11:05] We'll be on a cheese diet for the first ten days (LAUGHS). 

BETTY BALL [00:11:08] You're going to stink. 

JOHN ADAMS [00:11:08] Yeah. 

BETTY BALL [00:11:09] Oh, you're gonna have deli b--. Eurgh! No. Oh, that's nasty. All right, so we spoke a little bit about what you're going to be doing, but who are you doing it for? 

JOHN ADAMS [00:11:19] It's for the Scots Guards charity. It was agreed straight off the bat that we'll do it for the regimental charity because.. Not only does it for serving members, it does for veterans as well. The Scots Guards charity is there for you. Be you still serving, or a veteran, so we thought - yeah, let's just give back. 

BETTY BALL [00:11:40] So you target's £100,000. 

JOHN ADAMS [00:11:41] Yeah. 

BETTY BALL [00:11:41] Where are you right now? 

JOHN ADAMS [00:11:44] We're actually doing a lot better than what we thought. There was a point during the sponsorship period where we thought, "we need to get our finger out here." But at the minute, yes, it's starting to come in at a steady rate now, whereas it was a kind of slow build up at first. I think Captain Ford's a bit dubious about telling us whereabouts we actually are in case we take our foot off the gas. Butt, yeah, there's a steady flow coming in, and we're looking pretty good at the minute. 

STEVIE B [00:12:08] I'll tell you one thing I did think about. Because, obviously you're going to set off in December, you're going to be doing this throughout Christmas and New Year, so how's your family reacted to this? 

JOHN ADAMS [00:12:16] Well that was that was probably the first obstacle I had to get over, by telling my wife that... 

BETTY BALL [00:12:21] How did you break it to her? 

JOHN ADAMS [00:12:21] (LAUGHS). 

STEVIE B [00:12:21] Did you get her drunk first?

BETTY BALL [00:12:21] I'd love to be a fly on this wall! 

JOHN ADAMS [00:12:24] Well I was kind of playing out how it would work in my head, and I thought "you know what? Let's just go in there, let's just lay the cards on the table, and say "right, this is what I want to do, are you happy with it?" 

BETTY BALL [00:12:32] If she said no, would you have done it anyway? 

JOHN ADAMS [00:12:35] Errr.. No. (LAUGHS) 

BETTY BALL [00:12:35] Is it happy life, happy wide? 

JOHN ADAMS [00:12:35] Er, yeah, definitely, definitely. 

BETTY BALL [00:12:35] Is it that situation? 

JOHN ADAMS [00:12:41] Keeping the wife happy is the main thing in my life. But, I think she knew I wanted to do it so much, so she wouldn't get in the way. She was more than happy to let us do it. She's been supportive all the way throughout. And that's probably one of the main things you need if you're going to do a challenge like this, is you need the family, because when you're aware they're looking after everything. You kind of ditch virtually all your responsibilities, and your wife's taking care. So, there's two parts to the race. There's us that's got the row, and then there's the family back home who's got to keep everything in check. And we've all got kids as well. 

BETTY BALL [00:13:11] What do they think of this? 

JOHN ADAMS [00:13:11] Well mine's two, so he's just.. 

BETTY BALL [00:13:13] Awwww, how lovely! 

JOHN ADAMS [00:13:13] He's quite happy playing with his little chalk board. 

BETTY BALL [00:13:15] He's like your little mini mascot, man. 

JOHN ADAMS [00:13:21] (LAUGHS) Yeah! 

BETTY BALL [00:13:21] Aww, that is so cute. 

JOHN ADAMS [00:13:24] He'll be quite happy playing about at Christmas time, he'll not even notice I've gone, to be honest. 

BETTY BALL [00:13:27] He will! But can you imagine, like, years down the line - do you think that that you're setting a good role, a role model for your son and other people, doing this? 

JOHN ADAMS [00:13:35] I think my wife wouldn't think I am. I think your wife would want my son to just use his brain, stay in college, and just stay away from oceans, stay away from armed forces. 

BETTY BALL [00:13:44] Well it did you well, and you're doing something absolutely amazing from it and helping so many people. I mean Row 4 Heroes, which is on your T-shirt, that is quite an achievement. Just even thinking about it is quite outstanding.  

JOHN ADAMS [00:13:58] Yeah. 

BETTY BALL [00:13:58] I like him. 

JOHN ADAMS [00:13:59] (LAUGHS). 

BETTY BALL [00:13:59] He's cute.

STEVIE B [00:13:59] You know, it's weird. I feel exactly the same as I did when I met you at the [Sunderland International] Airshow. And I'm sitting here thinking.. I keep saying the same sentence in my head. "He's rowing across the Atlantic. You's rowing across the Atlantic!" I'm in awe of anybody that can have the balls to do it. 

BETTY BALL [00:14:14] The cojones! 

STEVIE B [00:14:14] Mind you, when you describe what type of person can do it, you pretty much describe me. [Chonkey!] I mean I'm ready. 

BETTY BALL [00:14:21] Perfect, take him, man! 

JOHN ADAMS [00:14:21] Exactly, yeah, I mean.. (LAUGHS). 

STEVIE B [00:14:21]  I'm ready for it, man. I'm fully loaded, ready to go, if yot want. 

JOHN ADAMS [00:14:24] There's space for another rower if you wanna come.

STEVIE B [00:14:30] So if you.. (LAUGHS). 


BETTY BALL [00:14:31] I'd pay good money for that! So is there anything you're looking forward to? 

JOHN ADAMS [00:14:33] During the race? 

BETTY BALL [00:14:33] Mmhmm. 

JOHN ADAMS [00:14:35] Erm.. Because it's been such a massive part of my life - like I said, it was a year and a half ago when we were kind of approached to do it - it's just getting on with the task at hand. Because at the minute, it's just been training rows, and promoting, and all the kind of stuff that goes with that. But just getting to that start point and hearing that claxon go, and knowing it's just us four agains the ocean... I think that's why I'm looking forward to the most. 

BETTY BALL [00:14:57] And when you get back, what's the first thing you'll do? Kiss, kiss the ground? 

JOHN ADAMS [00:15:00] Yeah. (LAUGHS). 


STEVIE B [00:15:02] Stop rocking! 

JOHN ADAMS [00:15:04] I haven't- You know what? I haven't put much thought into it, apart from getting something good to eat, and a good night's sleep. 

BETTY BALL [00:15:10] Aww. And one thing that you are gonna come across, because my parents work away.. The motion of when you come back. You're constantly gonna be like this. And you won't even realise. 

JOHN ADAMS [00:15:21] Well we had a long row, down Essex on the crouch river. All four of us got together, which was a task in itself. And we were out for 48 hours, non-stop. And when we came into the harbour - there's like a little café bar at the harbour - and we went upstairs to get something to eat. And all four of us kind of grabbed hold of the table. 

BETTY & STEVIE [00:15:41] (LAUGHTER). 

JOHN ADAMS [00:15:41] We thought is was moving.. Watching people go to the toilet, it was like... The locals were looking at us as if we'd been drinking all day and all night, so. 

STEVIE B [00:15:49] And that's, what? That was two days. 

JOHN ADAMS [00:15:52] That was only 48 hours, yeah. 

BETTY BALL [00:15:52] Wow! 

JOHN ADAMS [00:15:52] So, God knows what's gonna happen after 40 days.

BETTY BALL [00:15:55] It's gonna be such an experience. And how are we gonna stay in touch with you when you are in the Atlantic? 

JOHN ADAMS [00:16:00] We've got a thing on the boat which enables us to post videos and pictures and everything else, so we can just... 

BETTY BALL [00:16:05] Wow. 

JOHN ADAMS [00:16:05] Yeah. I mean, it sounds impressive but it's got to work. (LAUGHS) So, hopefully it works. But, yeah, the Christmas messages will be coming out, and.. 

STEVIE B [00:16:15] That's gonna be tough though isn't it? I mean doing Christmas messages. You're gonna be in the middle of the ocean, or whatever you're going to be in, and you're gonna be talking about your family, and it's going to be Christmas. 

JOHN ADAMS [00:16:23] Yeah, we've got Sat phones as well, so we can phone home, which will probably a lot better, a lot clearer.. 

STEVIE B [00:16:28] Do you think that'll make you feel better? Or inspire you? Or do you think you might reach a low point when you do it? 

JOHN ADAMS [00:16:34] I mean.. It's like when you're in army on tour. You kind of lose touch with back home. It's always good to ring home and hear the people you know, rather than the people you've been sat around with for the last ten days. You just need that kind of break from what you're doing, and kind of live through them for a little bit, and see what they are doing, see what's happening. Because we're not going to know what's happened in the news and everything else. 

STEVIE B [00:16:56] So I'll give you a much needed boost? 

JOHN ADAMS [00:16:58] Yeah, I mean, every time I've been on tour, I've always rang home, and it's been a case of me just listening to them talk about what's been going on, rather than  what I've been doing. Because my day is gonna be.. 

BETTY BALL [00:17:07] The same. 

JOHN ADAMS [00:17:07] Rowing, and sleeping, and eating, really. 

BETTY BALL [00:17:09] It's probably the most famous saying that I.. People say to me all the time, "Betty, there's nothing the matter with normal." 

JOHN ADAMS [00:17:15] (LAUGHS) 

BETTY BALL [00:17:17] There isn't, there's nothing the matter with normal, and your normal isn't normal at the moment. So their normal is everything to you. 

JOHN ADAMS [00:17:22] Yeah. 

BETTY BALL [00:17:22] Which will mean so much to you, and I generally cannot wait to see what happens. So I'm going to fling it out to you guys. Is there anything you would like to ask? 

STEVIE B [00:17:31] Anyone got any thoughts? I bet Martin might have. 

MARTIN SIMM [00:17:36] Why me? 

BETTY BALL [00:17:36] 'Cause you're army! 

STEVIE B [00:17:37] 'Cause you're forces as well. 

MARTIN SIMM [00:17:39] To be honest with you, I have got one question in mind. Most endurance stuff will challenge individuals' relationships with the people are doing it with. So is there any like things appoint in this that you've put to one side, to make sure your relationship with all four of you don't get too fractured or challenged in a way? 

JOHN ADAMS [00:17:55] Erm.. 

STEVIE B [00:17:55] That's a good question. 

JOHN ADAMS [00:17:57] Yeah yeah. I think we did talk about this. But, like I say, I've known Colin for like 20 years. And we bitch like a married couple anyway, so.. 

AUDIENCE [00:18:05] (LAUGHTER). 

JOHN ADAMS [00:18:05] We can pretty much share whatever we want to each other and it's forgotten about in in the blink of an eye. As most servicemen will tell you, you just get it out there, air your grievances, and it's forgotten about. I think the rule in the boat is; just be honest. If something's annoying you, nip it in the bud straight away. Don't let it fester, don't let it bother you and bother you and bother you until you just snap. 

MARTIN SIMM [00:18:21] Yeah. 

JOHN ADAMS [00:18:24] So three of us are gonna be fine. There's gonna be one.. Derek from New Zealand might struggle with that honesty, because most civilians are not used to being that candid with each other. Whereas squaddies, there's just no secrets. You're just straight out there, and you tell them exactly what you're feeling. 

MARTIN SIMM [00:18:38] (LAUGHS) Brutal to a point. 

JOHN ADAMS [00:18:39] Well I think that's probably the best way of doing it it. If someone's bothering you, or some little thing's bothering you, that little thing'll just escalate into something bigger and bigger and bigger. So, it's best to just get out there I think. 

MARTIN SIMM [00:18:49] Yeah. Thank you. 

BETTY BALL [00:18:51] There's no silly questions. 

DAVE SHAW [00:18:52] I'll ask one. 

BETTY BALL [00:18:52] Dave Shaw!  

DAVE SHAW [00:18:55] Hiya. So, just.. With the Atlantic, it is quite well known as "The Mighty Atlantic". There was a guy that I knew, Niall Iain MacDonald, who tried to go from the Western Isles in Scotland all the way to New York. 

JOHN ADAMS [00:19:05] Oh right. 

DAVE SHAW [00:19:06] And he failed. He's on his.. I think he's on his fourth attempt now. So how are you sort of physically prepared for the challenges of the Atlantic? 

JOHN ADAMS [00:19:14] Erm, well I think the best advice we got given was "go there heavy, put weight on". Not so much a beer belly - cause I told my friends I need to put weight. They were like "oh, well just get pork pie and gravy." I was like, "well it's not as easy as that, unfortunately." You've got to kind of.. It's gonna be a lot of leg work, and a lot of back work, so the training we've been doing is; deadlifts, pull-ups, all the kind of things where you're using your body against yourself for resistance training, and just cutting out the cardio. Because it's a steady pace all the way through. So fitness wise, I think you've gonna be mentally fit rather than physically fit. So the preparation we got given was probably just music to everyone's ears - put weight on. 

DAVE SHAW [00:19:51] (LAUGHS) 

JOHN ADAMS [00:19:51] And so yeah put about 10 kilos on, roughly about that. Because the average weight you lose is round about 10 kilograms. So if you go there 10 kilograms heavier, you'll come back looking maybes normal-ish. Or, what you used to. 

AUDIENCE [00:20:03] (LAUGHS) 

BETTY BALL [00:20:05] Well I've got a question for you. 

JOHN ADAMS [00:20:06] Yeah. 

BETTY BALL [00:20:06] You are from Sunderland. 

JOHN ADAMS [00:20:08] Born and bred, yeah. 

BETTY BALL [00:20:10] What do you think of Sunderland now? You've touched on it first, when you first came in, like you said the Black Bull's not there anymore, things are changing. 

JOHN ADAMS [00:20:17] (LAUGHS) Was one of my little watering holes, that. 

BETTY BALL [00:20:18] What do you think of it now? 

JOHN ADAMS [00:20:21] It's just.. My dad dropped us off, and I was talking to my dad. It's different, but it's the same. It's almost like it's just had a bit of a face lift here and there. I was walking through the Bridges [Shopping Centre] there, and it looks massive. All they've done is knocked down a building, but it just seems that open space where Crowtree [Leisure Centre] used to be, and it just makes a whole massive difference. Like the old Vaux site as well, what they're doing there, it just seems like it's growing outwards. 'Cause I remember growing up in Sunderland where it was tiny, I mean you can walk around the city centre in five minutes. And it just seems like it's just getting bigger and bigger now. 

STEVIE B [00:20:52] Do you think it's better than it was the last time you seen it? 

JOHN ADAMS [00:20:55] Well, yeah, I mean. I remember when I was growing up in Sunderland, I used to thing "I just need to get out this place." It seemed to be, like I said, really small, almost like I was getting strangled by the city itself. And I thought "I need go to those bigger cities. And that maybe is what pushed us to join the Army, to see the world. 'Cause that was the big selling point of the army; join the army, see the world. And I thought, well, there's bigger and bigger and better things than Sunderland.

STEVIE B [00:21:17] And have you? Have you seen the world? 

JOHN ADAMS [00:21:18] Yeah, I've been really fortunate to be honest. Volunteering for nearly everything that falls in my lap helped. But yeah, I've pretty much been everywhere really. 

MARTIN SIMM [00:21:28] I'm originally from down south, Milton Keynes. I say "down south" because, being up north, everything apparently is down south. But, being from Sunderland originally, have you felt more support from the city itself as well? 

JOHN ADAMS [00:21:41] Yeah, definitely. I mean, I've came home now, and my dad who's worked in Hashimoto plant down in Boldon way, he went round there and said "oh, my son's rowing across the Atlantic" and handed a sponsorship form in, went round the whole factory and came back about with a thousand and eight pound. And that's from people who've never even met us. I mean, they're just know my dad. And they found out what I was doing, and that I was from Sunderland, and that was it. They just all came in. You think it's a small city, and you think "oh, no-one's really bothered". And then little gestures like that, you think, actually people are bothered. 

MARTIN SIMM [00:22:10] Yeah. 

BETTY BALL [00:22:10] It the city with a big heart. 

STEVIE B [00:22:12] It's huge. 

BETTY BALL [00:22:13] I had this conversation today. It is a city with massive, massive heart. People think that it's not what it's all cracked up to be. It may not look like Newcastle, but wow, we are real compared to Newcastle. 

MARTIN SIMM [00:22:27] Well, if I'm honest with you, being from down south - there is more community spirit up here then there is down south nowadays. 

JOHN ADAMS [00:22:31]  I've worked a lot down south. 

MARTIN SIMM [00:22:33] Yeah. 

JOHN ADAMS [00:22:33] Yeah, you definitely feel that.. It's like the old saying, it's friendlier up north, isn't it? 

BETTY BALL [00:22:39] It's 'cause we care. And we support people that do amazing things, like yourself, and like the team. Half of the team is from right here! And there's two people from Sunderland rowing the Atlantic Ocean. I mean, I never thought I would ever, ever say that sentence. And I'm sat next to a human that is doing it. 

STEVIE B [00:22:57] I'll bump that even more. 50 percent of the crew is from Sunderland. 

JOHN ADAMS [00:23:00] (LAUGHS). 

STEVIE B [00:23:02] Get in there! See that's what you need, a bit of... A bit of Sunderland.

BETTY BALL [00:23:08] Bit of oomph! 

STEVIE B [00:23:09] Big Sunderland lads. 

BETTY BALL [00:23:09] So if people like to donate, where do we go? 

JOHN ADAMS [00:23:11] We've got a website. It's We're on all social media sites, @Row4Heroes - Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. And everything's on there - all the information. We've got training videos, where you can see me showing you a little bit of my gym work and what we might be doing. And then there's all kinds of videos of us rowing, the Sunderland [International] Airshow, we've been up Scotland, we're in Liverpool next month as well, so.. We're just taking the boat all the way around, as many places in the UK as we can. 

STEVIE B [00:23:39] As we do the podcasts all the way through, right up until December and through, we would look at try and.. 

BETTY BALL [00:23:45] Keep up to date! 

JOHN ADAMS [00:23:45] Yeah yeah yeah, yeah. 

STEVIE B [00:23:45] Keep up to date with everybody, and let everybody know.. And maybe somehow try and contact you on the way there.. I'm sure there's a way we can do it, but maybe try and contact you on the way through, because that'd be great. 

JOHN ADAMS [00:23:56] Yeah, like I said, the social media posts will be flying in, so there'll be a steady stream of pictures and videos. 

STEVIE B [00:24:03] I still can't get my head around the fact that it's... 

BETTY BALL [00:24:05] I think he's inspirational, personally. 

STEVIE B [00:24:08] ..Something that you're gonna do, and you're adamant that you're going to get right to the end. And I know you will, you've got determination, and I've met the crew at the [Sunderland International] Airshow, but I just hope you get all the best of luck that you're going get, I hope you get the best weather, and I'm sure everybody in Sunderland will follow you from start to finish. 

JOHN ADAMS [00:24:23] Thanks a lot, yeah, like I said we'll keep posting and forcing keep yous updated. 

STEVIE B [00:24:26] Can we give him a huge round of applause please? 


BETTY BALL [00:24:37] I told you he was hot. (LAUGHS). 

SOUNDS [00:24:38] (THEME TUNE) 

JAY SYKES [00:24:43] Speak up Sunderland was hosted by Betty Ball and Stevie B, and produced by me, Jay Sykes. Thank you to John Adams for joining us, and sharing about the incredible upcoming journey with The Atlantic Guardsmen. You can find out more about how they're raising money for the Scots Guards charity, as well as the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge in general, through our website, Speak Up Sunderland

JAY SYKES [00:25:09] And a huge thank you to our new live venue - The Engine Room in The Fire Station, in the city centre of Sunderland. Our next live event at The Fire Station is on Wednesday the 16th of October - just two Wednesdays from now, from 7 p.m. onwards. As ever, we will have featured guests, such as this time Rebecca Ball, the Creative Director of Sunderland Culture, who who's sharing about the building of the new 450-seater auditorium space that's being built alongside The Fire Station, and the impact that it will have on the city. But also it's a chance to share your views, and your stories. Please do come and join us. Click here here to grab your free tickets. Tonight you had questions asked by guests Martin Simm and Dave Shaw. Our theme tune was created by TimeCrawler82, and our new logo and branding is by Jorge Rodrigues. I'm not originally from Sunderland, as you can probably tell by my voice, but I have grown to love this city. This podcast is proudly produced in Sunderland, for Sunderland.