The Voyage: Roz Savage
Alone Across the Atlantic: Banker quits city for solo ocean row
Elizabeth Hopkirk
22 Jul 2005, Evening Standard, London

She hated sport at school and only took up rowing at university so she could eat more without getting fat. Now Roz Savage, 37, is about to row solo across the Atlantic after resigning from her job in the City.

"I wanted a big challenge and I reckon this is as big as they get," said the Oxford law graduate. "I have done the married, salaried, mortgage thing and I am moving off in a new direction. I wanted to find out what I am capable of. This is the ultimate test of self-sufficiency.

"Someone told me if you don't keep expanding your comfort zone it doesn't stay the same, it shrinks. I now think of it as this big bubble around me and I have to keep running around so it doesn't shrink-wrap me."

Roz, who has already run two marathons and joined an archaeology expedition to Peru, is training to compete in the Atlantic Rowing Race and trying to raise £30,000 for the Prince's Trust.

She will set off from the Canary Islands on 27 November for Antigua in the West Indies, almost 3,000 miles away, rowing up to 16 hours a day.

"Luckily, I'm quite self-reliant and quite happy with my own company," she said.

"I have 10,000 songs on my iPod that will help lift me when I have tough days but I think there will be a lot of really nice things about being out there - the peace and quiet, serenity and solitude."

It is a far cry from her career as an international project manager for investment bank UBS.

She said, "When my then husband and I bought a big house in Kew it was meant to be the final piece in the jigsaw puzzle of happiness.

"It looked like everything was happy and secure for the future but at that point I realised I wanted something more out of life.

"I reacted against the whole materialistic culture. Now I don't even own a suit."

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Happy Times, Happy Tims
Roz Savage
21 Jul 2005, Emsworth

This is Tim Gilmore of Dolphin Quay Boatyard, where Solo will live while Tim's men and I get her ready for the ocean. As luck would have it they've worked on an ocean rowing boat before - David Pearce's Petrel - so Solo couldn't be in better hands.

Another Tim - Tim Davies of Simrad - rang this afternoon to say they've got my new marine instruments ready for me, and they're going to get them all wired up on a demo bench so I can see how it all works before tackling the installation myself. These instruments will tell me my position, speed, course, wind direction - figures that will be of all-consuming importance during the race, with the power to cause elation or depression.

Speaking of depression, earlier today I was feeling rather despondent after a particularly negative comment from someone at the yacht club. On hearing about my timescales and how much still needs to be done, he said, 'Crikey, I'd be panicking if I were you.' Not very helpful. 'Well, it's just as well you aren't me, then,' I said, and absented myself before he could further dent my morale. Comments like that we don't need.

Progress isn't linear. I grind away for days and weeks with little evident progress, then in the space of a few hours there's a sudden surge of activity and everything falls into place. Onwards and upwards!

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Gizmos Galore
Roz Savage
19 Jul 2005, Emsworth

Photo: Roz receiving a brace of VHF radios from Jeremy Harrison (right) and Tim Davies (left) of Simrad

The observant may have noticed that my boat floats very high in the water - almost ON the water. This is because she has absolutely nothing on board, but that situation is being rapidly rectified... boxes full of strange gadgets and gizmos arriving almost daily. Dining room filling up rapidly, and bank account emptying equally rapidly. First Direct were on the phone to me today to check nobody had stolen my credit card - it was suddenly taking such a pounding.

The good news for my bank manager is that I got an exciting new sponsorship deal with Simrad on Friday - they'll be supplying me with my VHF radios - fixed and handheld. The best things in life are free...

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Solo International
Roz Savage
11 Jul 2005, Emsworth

Alby McCracken of Para-Anchors Australia rang this morning, replying to my e-mail asking about these essential items in the ocean rower's armoury. He sounded remarkably cheery, considering it was 9pm in Australia and he was still at work.

We've arranged to meet at the Southampton Boat Show in September to discuss the ins and outs of para-anchors - a large fabric parachute that I trail from the bow of my boat into the sea, to stop me being blown too far backwards if the winds turn against me.

Seems I'm going to have a truly internationally-equipped boat - kangaroo skin gloves and oars from Oz, biltong from South Africa, homeopathic remedies from New Zealand, iTrip from the USA, and what no ocean rower should be without - an alpaca-skin seat cover from Peru. Sheepskin? - pah!

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