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Amazon rowers relive – and thank their supporters at special reception

2014_news_rowersreliveOur brave rowers, Mark de Rond and Anton Wright, relived their experiences and thanked all their many supporters at a Row the Amazon thank you reception at Cambridge Judge Business School.

The duo roved the length of Amazon in just 31 days in September-October 2013 and collected their Guinness World Record certificate in Brazil at the end of their epic adventure.

Safely returned, the rowers wanted to say thank you to all their sponsors, friends and supporters and also share some memories from the row. The luminous yellow boat, which was Mark and Anton’s home for more than four weeks, was back in the UK just in time for the reception, and was moored outside CJBS for everyone to see.

Christoph Loch, Director of Cambridge Judge Business School, congratulated the duo on their achievement. More than 100 people attended the event, including representatives from Leonard Cheshire Disability, the charity supported by the Row the Amazon adventure.

Mark and Anton
Mark and Anton

Guests had a chance to see video footage and photographs and get a closer look at some of the items Mark and Anton used during the row, such as medicines, clothes and oars. The boat, with an original weight of one tonne, returned stripped of most of its equipment, despite the promises of some locals to safeguard it! Anton joked: “She’s a lot lighter now … I wish it was this empty when we were rowing, one tonne in weight stripped down to 300kg.”

Mark, who specialises in strategy and organisation at CJBS, is hoping to include some of his insights in his research on how people behave in unusual circumstances. He said:

“This was one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done. It was not just physically tough – the heat, the perpetual tiredness, the lack of calories – but mentally challenging: to spend 31 days and nights on a small boat in a big river, always watching out for pirates, barges, drug traffickers, large pieces of floating debris, etc., doing everything a human being does (and needs to do) within two feet of someone else.

But that made it very special too, and an experience I will never forget. It was always designed as an attempt to put my money where my mouth had been for 15 years, by actually participating in a collaborative effort with genuinely high stakes, a great deal of uncertainty, and physical and mental wear and tear.

“In terms of lessons learned, it’s early days yet. That said, the trip forced me to rethink the assumed relationship of harmony and performance (of harmony often being seen as a cause for performance), and the importance of clear team-based performance measures. Knowing unequivocally that you’ve made progress can wash away a multitude of sins and petty irritations.”