Throughout the event this blog was on the front page of the website and updated with news from the boats as it happened.  Crew members made regular phone calls which not only enabled us to pass on what was happening but also gave us a chance to relay messages from friends and family to the swimmers.

This is where you can join us following the race in ‘real-time’. Our guest Webmaster, Geoff, will be updating our Relay Blog with info we get directly from our teams on the boats as they cross the Channel. They’ll be phoning in regular updates so our supporters can follow the excitement. We’ll also be able to pass on your words of encouragement to our brave (and mad!?!) swimmers. Email us here. Our fantastic Web team; Robs parents-in-law, Geoff and Glen and Rob’s children, Ellie, age 13 and Albert, age 12 will be manning the phones and are waiting with bated breath for the race to star.

21JULY
1920HRS

Welcome and welcome back to those who were watching Rob’s solo swim. This is Geoff on the blog again with some pre-start updates. It appears that Gurkha curry and jam roly-poly were on this evening’s menu - I hope the fish enjoy that!

Rob has been briefing the teams in brilliant Dover sunshine and the final decision on the start time is expected at any moment. Excitement is mounting and there are a few nervous giggles around - but the girls are showing no sign of nerves, although Sumo says “Help” and Zoe is worried about breaking a nail.

And a message from Andy Reid to Imogen, if she’s watching, “Hello, darling, please make sure you go to bed on time, love Daddy xxx”

2000HRS

THE START HAS BEEN CONFIRMED - 0100HRS TUESDAY 21 JULY

Things are really starting to happen now.

The RS team has been down to the supermarket to buy more cakes.

In the Mutineers team, they’re sharpening cutlasses and are ready for the fight. Darrel has fallen over a wall, been off to the Medical Centre and been passed fit to swim. Just a scratch and injured pride - don’t worry Darrel, I won’t tell anyone.

Sumo’s little brother Matt has turned up all the way from Bedford to cheer-lead at the start - no short skirt or pom-poms though.

And everyone’s off to the harbour to do a first works parade on the boats. I presume there are some of you out there who know what that means.
 

2100HRS

The admin. stuff has now been completed and the teams have returned to their accommodation for a “power nap”. They’ll be re-grouping about 2300HRS.

2140HRS

While we’re waiting for something to happen, may I just draw your attention to the justgiving box further up the page. It partially displays the last three messages left by donors. To see a full message, click on that message and a small box will open, showing the full message.

If you’d like to see all the messages left by donors, click on the DONATE! button. This does not commit you to anything, but first reveals a list of donations and messages.

If you’d like to leave a message and a donation, click on the SPONSOR ME NOW button on the justgiving page - it’s really that easy...go on, you know you want to.
 

2345HRS

Sian (Mutineers) says they have just seen their boat for the first time - worry has now turned to excitement (thinks - don’t they realise they have to get out of it from time to time?)

It’s going to be a mass start rather than staggered - all six teams setting off together at the start signal - shades of Le Mans without the burning rubber!
 

22 July 0010HRS

Gallivant (RE) and Suva (REME) have just left the harbour heading for Shakespeare Beach and the others are just about to leave.
 

0030HRS

The first swimmers (and boat name) for each team are:

AGC (Roco) - Abi Bradley
The Mutineers (Pace Arrow) - Sian Edwards
RE (Gallivant) - Mike Gausden
REME (Suva) - Richie Emerton
RLC (Anastasia) - Anne-Marie Redwood
RS (Sea Satin) - Sue Morris (Sumo)
 

0045HRS

As the start approaches, I have had a report that the sky is clear, with bright stars twinkling and a very bright moon shining, making the White Cliffs glow. The wind is light. All the boats are now making their way round to Shakespeare Beach. Everyone has gone a bit quiet and there are a few pale faces - but I’m sure that’s just the moonlight.
 

0105HRS

...AND THEY’RE OFF...RS have taken an early lead - 5m ahead (only another 21,995 to go).

And from The Mutineers - “Sian is swimming like a demon but the waves are big...ooooerrr.”

And from RS - Sumo is wearing the yellow Titan cap and two blue lights and and orange one on her posterior (the mind boggles). The sea is a bit choppy and seasickness on the boat is a real potential.

And from REME - Richie is in and doing well but claims to have been cut up by RS (Come on, guys, it’s only a bit of fun and friendly rivalry - er, I’ll get my coat).
 

0135HRS

30 minutes in and Sumo is still in the lead for RS and going strongly. For the romantics out there, it’s quite beautiful with the moonlight reflecting off the water..aaaah.

I was hoping to see all the boats on the AIS site, but so far, only Anastasia has shown up.

From RLC - Anne-Marie is swimming hard, also smiling and waving (well, which is it?) The weather’s good and A-M is looking good.

From the Mutineers - lying in 4th place at the moment. Andy’s off to sleep already (aah, bless). They’ve all got skull & crossbones tattoos...stick-on fakes of course - but will they be able to get them off?

From AGC - Abi is doing well, although bringing up the rear. Glen and Verity are bringing up something else, being somewhat affected by the rolling motion of the boat.

From RE - hmmm...nothing yet, Hamish isn’t answering his phone - naughty Hamish. If anyone has a number for anyone on board the RE boat, would you please ring or text it and ask them to make contact for an update.
 

0215HRS

From RS - Sumo is out, swallowed quite a bit of water but is OK. Change of order - Rob is now in - still well in the lead. “Sea Satin” is heading into the moonlight path.

From REME - Richie is out and Belinda (“B”) is in, making a few unrepeatable comments as she went, but she’s making up ground and everyone is happy.

From RLC - Anne-Marie is out, feeling good and is delighted with her swim. Laura was very pleased to get in, as she was feeling a bit sea-sick on the boat. They can see AGC behind them, REME level with them and Mutineers about 200m dead ahead.

Joy of joys, we’ve made contact with RE - Mike is out, Hamish is in (perhaps that’s why he didn’t answer his phone). Hamish, Vicky and Scott have been a bit sea-sick, but morale is high. They reckon they are in joint second place with REME, but Hamish is hoping to gain ground.

I’ve tried to work out the current placing - perhaps RE can’t see RS ahead of them, so I think it’s as follows:

1. RS
2. Mutineers
3. RLC, RE, REME
6. AGC
...but there’s a long way to go yet.
 

0240HRS

From AGC - Abi is out and Glen is in. He seems to think this is the Dover to Jersey swim as he keeps heading away from the boat. The change-over was a bit chaotic - buckets everywhere. Ginger bickies are being consumed thick and fast to try to ward off the mal de mer. Still bring up the rear but enjoying the scenery. The horizon (apparently) looks lovely.

From RS - Rob is still well ahead and swimming strongly. Laura is passing around the ginger biscuits - I wonder why? Sumo has got her own personal bucket at the ready - but she’s OK so far.
The RE are behind them followed by REME. “The Mutineers are probably doing it for pleasure” said an RS spokesperson (Ouch!)

0315HRS

From RLC - Laura is out and Shaun is in. They reckon they gained 1/4 mile on the Mutineers on that leg. They’re listening to Wham! - oh dear, pass the ginger bickies, someone.

From REME - B’s out and reckons it was harder than it looks. Justin is in, but lost his lights and had to retrieve them and put them back on. Even so, he’s gaining on the RE.

From RE - Hamish is out and Liz is in and doing well. They believe they are in the lead by about 100m. Mike is sleeping.

From AGC - Glen is out and Amanda is in. The boat’s rolling a bit and so is everyone in it!

From Mutineers - DZ is out and, when asked to comment for the Blog, muttered something unrepeatable. Craig is now in and Sian is tucked up in her sleeping bag.

From RS - another change of order - Rob is out and Craig is in. “Are they trying to confuse the opposition?”, I ask myself. They’re certainly confusing me!
 

0345HRS

From RS - Laura has just given an interview to Victoria of BFBS News - fame at last, I always knew you’d make it Victoria. Craig has had some trouble with his goggles and set off on his swim back towards Dover. What a sportsman, giving the opposition a chance to catch up. Unfortunately, he gave them too much of a chance and RE are now ahead and REME are alongside. Never mind, he’s now pointing in the right direction.

Will you all join me in wishing a Happy Birthday to Sam Potts (RS) and Suzy Holmes (Mutineers) who share a birthday today. Sam has reached the grand old age of 22 and Suzy is 21 (again).

From REME - We’re in the lead (yes, I already knew that) and DJ is taking over from Justin.
 

0400HRS

A “heads up” for those of you who were hoping to follow this on the AIS site as well and were disappointed not to see the boats showing up. Suva, Pace Arrow and Anastasia have just put in an appearance - http://www.shipais.com/currentmap.php?refresh=10&count=2&map=dover
 

0415HRS

From RS - Craig out - Sam in and catching up to REME.

From RE - Liz is out, Damian is in and about 550m ahead of the field or should it be pack? Does anyone know the collective noun for swimmers - please send in your suggestions to the site.

From Mutineers - Craig is out, Darrel is in. Apparently Craig is raring to go, but I don’t know whether that’s back in the water or home.

From AGC - Amanda is out and Verity is in. The going is tough, but, hey, nobody said it was going to be a walk in the park, more like a swim in the Channel.

From RLC - Sean is out having drunk a fair bit of water and feeling tipsy. I keep telling him to take more whiskey with it. He’s sunk a well-deserved cup of tea instead. Dawn is breaking and that makes it all worth while. Alex is now in.

From the AIS site, it looks like they are now crossing the first of the two shipping lanes.
 

0435HRS

From RS - Sam is doing well. He’s overtaken REME, although RE is still ahead and in the lead.
 

0520HRS

From Mutineers - Darrel is out and feeling good. Suzy is now in. DZ had been feeling a bit poorly but is much better now. Craig is catching up on his beauty sleep, ‘nuff said. It seems that Darrel took his eye off the ball (read “boat”) and nearly head-butted it. It’s not like it’s big enough to see, is it?

From RS - Sam is out having had a great leg. REME has been left behind and he was catching up to RE. Zoe is now in and is swimming well with long, steady strokes. There is a beautiful sunrise - can’t wait to see the photos.

From RLC - Alex is out, had a bit of sickness but is fine now and is wearing about 17 layers. Neil is in, accompanied by a flock of sea gulls. I have a natural-scientist cousin who tells me there is no such creature, they are herring gulls, black-headed gulls etc, but he won’t be watching this blog, so Neil is accompanied by sea gulls, OK? Sugarbabes are on the ship’s radio - trying to scare the sea gulls away, obviously. The Mutineers are in front, the AGC are behind and there are ferries all over the place. The sea state has calmed down a bit and the swimmers say it’s nicer in than out. I’ll go along with that.

On the collective noun for swimmers subject, I had a few minutes to try Google and have also received some suggestions, such as:
a raft, a speedo, an army (might upset the other services), a league (of long distance swimmers), a pool, a splash, a stroke. I know it’s early in the morning, but put on your thinking caps and let’s see what we come up with by the end of the swim.
 

0545HRS

From REME - DJ is out, Liz is in and going strongly. Everybody’s happy.

From AGC - Verity’s out and Michele is in. They appear to be gaining on RLC.
 

0615HRS

From RLC - Neil is out and warming up well. Jo is in and looking stylish. The White Cliffs of Dover are still a bit too close for comfort, but France is visible and they’ve gone through the first shipping lane.

From Mutineers - Suzy’s out, Andy’s in. They think they’re ahead of REME. N.B. “Someone” threw a banana skin at Suzy while she was in - she thought it was “a possessed seagull” and stopped to inspect it. “Someone” fell about laughing.

From RS - Laura’s in, Zoe’s out. Seem to be gaining on RE.

From AGC - Michele’s out, Kate’s in. Gaining on RLC.

From REME - Liz is out - said it was a trifle cold (edited - this is a family friendly site) Al is in.
 

0630HRS

From RE -Vicky is out after a good leg. Scott is in. Just about to cross the separation lane between the two shipping lanes and expect (hope) to enter French waters by the end of this leg. The sun is shining brightly, the pilot estimates that we should complete the crossing by 12.30hrs - only another 6 to go.
 

0730HRS

All the swimmers have now swum one leg and are beginning the second rotation.

From RS - Laura is out, Sumo is in and kicking hard. There is a massive tanker close by (no hitching a tow, now), Dover and France both in view, as are RE, REME and Mutineers.

From Mutineers - Andy is now out (please tell Imogen he’s looking forward to getting back in again). Sian is in. Three races seem to have developed, RE and RS are battling it out for the lead, Mutineers and REME are locked together with Mutineers in front, then RLC and AGC, with RLC ahead at present.

But with at least 5 hours to go, anything can happen.

From RLC - Jo is out. Anne-Marie is in an doing well.

From RE - we’re neck and neck with RS. Scott is out and Mike is in. Everyone is feeling the effects of sea-sickness but morale is high. Hamish is getting ready for his next leg.
 

0900HRS

All the teams are in the groove now. They all report a good swell but no chop. Although sickness is still a threat, most people seemed to have coped well - perhaps all those ginger biscuits helped after all.

From RE - Mike is out, Hamish is in. It’s still a tussle with RS, who are off their port beam (or left hand side if you want it in English). They can see REME and Mutineers about 3/4 mile behind them, but can’t see AGC and RLC at all (don’t worry - I know where they are).

From AGC - Abi’s out after a good swim - almost caught up with RLC, who are now just ahead of them. Glen is now in.

From REME - Richard is out, B is in and swimming strongly. They can see 2 boats behind them (AGC and RLC) one to the side (Mutineers) and can only see one of the two boats that are ahead of them.

From Mutineers - Sian is out and says it’s much better swimming in daylight. DZ is in, feeling much better than she did earlier on during the night. Andy is asleep. They can see RE and RS in front of them, REME is roughly level with them and AGC and RLC are “way back” (that’s a technical nautical term, I believe).

From RS - Sumo is out. She had a quick leg, good strokes. Rob is now in. He had to tread water for a few minutes to let a HUGE cargo ship pass by, reportedly within 20m. We’ll see how close it really was - Helen reckons she got some good photos. If your looking at the AIS site, it was the “Good Providence”.
 

0930HRS

From RE - Hamish is out, Liz is in. RS are still very close.

From RLC - Laura is out, Shaun is in.

From Mutineers - Craig is in. DZ is out, feeling a million times better than she did earlier. She’s considering disowning her family if they don’t send her a personal message PDQ. (Yes, she’s obviously feeling better). The rest of the team made up a song about her, which they sang to her throughout her swim, although she probably couldn’t hear them. I haven’t been given a copy of the lyrics and I might not have been able to post them here anyway, but keep checking YouTube, you never know.
 

1030HRS

In the interest of family unity, I am very pleased to report that DZ’s big sister, Caz, has just phoned in to lend her support.

Back to the relay - the updates are getting just a bit disjointed now. My young support staff have had to go to bed, so I’m taking phone calls, e-mails and updating the blog single-handed and with the swimmers really getting into their stride, it’s pretty much left arm, right arm, kick, kick. It looks like RE are starting to open up a lead of some 100m over RS. Damien’s going like a steam train - it must be all the Morris dancing he does.

From RLC - Alex is in the water, going strongly. Shaun had a “brilliant” swim, averaging about 4 knots and pulling away from AGC. Cap Gris Nez is clearly visible, about 5 miles ahead.

From RE - Liz is out, Damien is in. They’re leading the RS by about 250m now but they know RS have got two very strong swimmers to come. The sea state is much flatter and they are still hoping for a sub-12 hour time.
 

1045HRS

With, hopefully, only a couple of hours before the winner steps ashore in France, the positions of the teams are as follows:

Leading by about 250m, RE
Second, but with strong finishers to come, RS
Just about neck and neck for third place, but well behind the leaders, REME and Mutineers
In fifth position and well back, RLC followed by AGC

However, no-one can take anything for granted - an attack of cramp or a mouthful of water that wasn’t expected can change the situation in a moment. It looks as if each placing is going to be fought for to the very last stroke.
 

1100HRS

I’ve just heard from RS that their boat is being followed by a number of juvenile dolphins - now how cool is that. (Thinks - is there anything in the rules to prevent dolphins being used as pace-makers. Nah, let’s not go there.) Hope you’ve got some good photos, Helen.
 

1130HRS

From Mutineers - Darrel is out, Suzy is in and going well. France is about 2 and a half miles away as the seagull flies. A message from Craig to his wife “If I ever decide to do this again, beat me over the head with a brick” (I can see the queue forming already, Craig). Sian has not stopped shouting and they all have bleeding ears (not really, it just feels like it). Andy has taken a million pictures and has been eating Jaffa cakes like he had shares in the company. A massive catamaran ferry has just gone past - painted on the side was “Fight the Pirates”...hmmm
PS from DZ’s mum - “Get a move on. 3rd isn’t good enough!”

From AGC - Verity is out - Michele is in and swimming strongly. RLC has opened up a lead of about a mile, but they’re determined to close the gap.

From RS - it’s still anyone race. RE are about 100m ahead and slightly to the right. The tide is sweeping them from left to right around a headland. The finish could easily be within the next 45 to 60 mins.
 

1150HRS

From RE - ETA 14 minutes - we have a lead of 400m over RS.
 

1155HRS

From REME - Justin had a good swim and is out. DJ got hassled by sea gulls and is out. Liz is in and is going well. Hope to finish inside 2 hours. Mutineers are still off to the right. RCL and AGC are a long way behind.
 

1220HRS

From Mutineers - We are now swimming against the tide and are potentially 2 hours away from touch-down. We seem to be losing ground against REME.

From AGC - we are now hot on the tail of RLC - Kate is in and swimming very strongly. We are taking the time to do a bit of sunbathing. A message for Glen’s family - he is probably going to be the swimmer who makes it to land and could really do with getting some very positive messages from you.

Both RE and RS should have landed by now, but no contact has been made by either team.
 

1230HRS

RS have finished the relay in a time of 11 hours 14 minutes. The swimmer swimming the last leg was Laura Fernand. The other team members were, in order of swim, Sue Morris (Sumo), Rob Healey, Craig Chilvers, Sam Potts and Zoe Pythian. Congratulations to all of them for a tremendous effort. Once Laura had officially finished, the whole team swam ashore to celebrate.

I understand that RS finished in 2nd position, the first team being RE, but I have been unable to confirm this with the RE team. No doubt they will make contact in due course and I can update this further.
 

1245HRS

RE finished in a time of 10 hours 59 minutes. The swimmer who landed was Vicky Parnell. The other team members, in order of swim, were Mike Gausden, Hamish McCarthy, Liz Earl, Damien Quinn and Scott Robinson. Congratulations to them all for a magnificant victory. Again, the whole team swam ashore to join Vicky for celebrations.
 

1300HRS

Far be it from me to suggest that RS are poor losers, but my spies (aka juvenile dolphins) inform me that a challenge to a rematch has already been issued.

On a more serious note, Sumo lost a pink shoe overboard somewhere in the Channel and would like all the competitors to keep a lookout for it on the way back.
 

1330HRS

The four teams still swimming have now got to dig deep and I know they will. The tide has turned and not in their favour.

From REME - Al is out, having had the swim of his life - Richie is in. They are within sight of the shore but are fighting the tide. They are still ahead of Mutineers.

From RLC - Jo is out and claims he was nearly run over by the well-meaning RS boat that was visiting the other teams to cheer them on. Clearly it was simply RS practising a manoeuvre they intend to use during next year’s relay (I’m kidding - honest)

Anne-Marie is in and there will probably be one more swimmer going in (Laura) They are still ahead of AGC

From AGC - Abi is in. France in sight but it is not known how long it will take to get there. RLC are about 200m ahead.

RS visited to give them encouragement and tossed over their own mascot (some sort of purple fluffy alien-type creature that, when hit hard, sings a funky tune - hey, I’m only reporting this stuff) to bring them luck. Unfortunately, catching thrown objects is not an AGC skill requirement and the thingy fell into the briney and sank without trace. Not so lucky, then?
 

1345HRS

We have two more finishes.

In 3rd place, with a time of (approx) 12 hours 15 minutes, is REME. The landing swimmer was Richie Emerton and the remainder of the team were Belinda (“B”) Veasey, Justin Simons, DJ Vaughan, Liz Faithfull-Davis and Al Naylor.

Just behind them, in 4th place (time not known yet) came Mutineers. The lander was Sian Edwards and the remainder of the team were Rena Dzisieswka (“DZ”), Craig Michael, Darrel McClusky, Suzy Holmes and Andy Reid.

The photos will show that “champagne on the rocks” has a whole new meaning.

Another great tussle that went down to the last few yards. Well done to you all.
 

1445HRS

Still two boats left to finish - AGC and RLC.

From AGC - Glen is in at the moment. It is expected that Amanda will have to go in again. Abi wishes to be considered for the prize for the most exotic injury - she claims that her fingers and toes were nibbled by a sea lamprey. I have found a description of this creature as follows: “Sea Lampreys are parasitic on other fish and marine mammals: they attach themselves to their victims by the sucking mouth, and use the tongue to scrape away the flesh of their host, drinking the blood at the same time.” It looks like she’s lucky to have any fingers or toes left. She gets my vote!

Glen is swimming against the tide and has about 500m to go before he reaches sheltered water.

From RLC - they are about 200m from shore. Laura is making the final approach, notwithstanding she isn’t feeling too great at the moment.
 

1505HRS

RLC have finished in a time of 13 hours 45 minutes, in 5th place. Laura Stewart made it to the rocks, and the rest of the team were Anne-Marie Redwood, Shaun Bailey, Alex Cornell, Neil Kirkham and Jo Chestnutt. Another great effort, as I know something of the discipline and sheer will power that has been required to overcome personal challenges. Great stuff, well done.
 

1600HRS

AGC has just finished in 6th position, in about 15 hours. Amanda Hassel got to the rocks to a standing ovation from a number of passers-by. What a lovely way to finish what has been a gruelling swim for her and the rest of her team, Abi Bradley, Glen Fenby, Verity Morris, Michele Cochrane and Kate Bowler. I am so pleased that everyone got across safely. Congratulations to you all on your achievement.
 

22 JULY
 1630HRS

I’m told that there have been messages passed around to the effect that this blog closed over an hour ago. You can rest assured that it will never close until all competitors have been accounted for. That happy state has now been reached and I will take my leave of you. Thank you for letting me share this historic and fantastic event with you. Thank you to my “back office” staff (see above) without whom I simply could not have got all this information out to you. Congratulations to all the competitors and to everyone who worked so hard to make this event possible.

That’s me gone...Geoff xxx
 

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