MEET THE CREW
Who is John Haskell?
CREW ∙ OCTOBER 15, 2019
After acquiring an old wooden boat that was an exhibit in Swansea maritime museum and totally rebuilding it, John,50, successfully rowed across the Atlantic Ocean as one of a pair. He has two teenage children and believes the most important role in life is being the best dad that he can be and hopefully inspiring them and others.
Why the challenge of rowing an Ocean?
If you do have to ask yourself this question you probably shouldn’t be doing it. Some people are horrified when you tell them what it involves to me it’s sheer heaven. To be away from crowds of people away from real life. Then when it’s over it’s like a reboot it makes you appreciate all the things you take for granted on a daily basis. There’s the self test of the challenge itself. Will I be fit enough mentally and physically? Will I let my team mates down? Can I actually do it?
Some people love the hills and the outdoors and their ultimate adventure would probably be one of the big mountain peaks of the world. I love nature and the outdoors but I’m a complete thalassophile. To me the sea is the ultimate environment. It’s cleansing, powerful, scary and literally the whole life of the planet depends on it. There’s a scientific theory we went back into the sea after evolving into the bipedal primate we are today. We become ocean dependant waders in warm tropical estuaries. Homo Delphinus .
To row an ocean is the ultimate intimacy with the environment.
Have you taken part in a big adventure before?
I rowed the Atlantic as a pair in 2011-2012 in 46 days in an old refurbished wooden boat. This was one of my mid life crisis’.
I had to rebuild/refurbish the boat which was an exhibit in Swansea maritime museum. Raised all the funding and sponsorship had to fit training in, completed ocean going courses and fit work and family life in. The two years building up to it was as big as a challenge as the row itself. I’ve also been privileged enough to spend extended time in the jungle on an Amazon expedition. Another amazing environment.
What are you most looking forward to about rowing?
The isolation and the night skies. The pelagic wildlife that you’d never get chance to normally observe. Also being part of a team that will literally be a family for the months that the project will take. I’ve not even met any of them yet. I hope they like me yikes!
What do you think the biggest challenges will be?
There will be sleep deprivation, starvation and complete physical and mental exhaustion. We’ll be pushed past limits that you’d never encounter in everyday life. It will push relationships with team members to the limit. There’s fear of big seas and bad weather, loneliness and missing family. But you have to get in that seat and row then row some more. You have to do it for your team and to get home to loved ones as quick and as safely as possible.
What 3 strengths do you think you will bring to the crew?
In no particular order I believe the best traits I will bring to the team are:
My ability to find humour in every situation. Sometimes a smart quip can defuse the dodgiest of scenarios and give the impression that at least one person here doesn’t seem too concerned so everything must be fine.
Physically I’m never going to be a champion ultra marathon runner or first place triathlete but I’m a plodder and can seem to go on and on and push myself way out of the comfort zone. I’m looking forward to smashing out those rowing miles for the team.
I seem to have a great ability to stay calm in a crisis. 29 Years as a a firefighter has raised the bar on what I consider to be scary or dangerous. I’m hoping to bring some calmness and clarity if and when the poop hits the fan as it most definitely will at some stage probably thousands of miles from outside assistance.
Who is your biggest inspiration?
Would definitely be Sir Ranulph Fiennes. Have been lucky enough to have met him.
What advice would you give to your 10 year old self?
Don’t fret the small stuff…Ever! Oh and…Don’t burn them Star Wars figures in mock battles in the garden. They’re worth a fortune now.
Aside from friends and family, what do you think you will miss most while you’re at sea?
Probably sitting and chillin with nice coffee.
If you could only listen to one album for the whole crossing, what would it be?
Would easily be, pink floyd the Division Bell. It has become almost a meditation for me. At times of complete stress it totally grounds me.
What would you sing at a karaoke night?
Being a proud Welshman. Probably the only Welshman who can’t sing a note. I always sing Tom Jones – Delilah. Everyone joins in and drowns out my croaky warble.
What will you bring as your luxury item?
Wet wipes. Oh and chorizo sausage.
What is the most annoying habit other people have?
Fretting about trivial stuff in life.
A brief history of time, Stephen Hawking. Don’t pretend to understand 90% of it but find it fascinating.
Tell us an interesting thing about you people should know…
After the documentary of my last row which was put out on prime time ITV Wales I was nominated to apply for a position as a presenter on the discovery channel. I was shortlisted down to two and narrowly missed out. My audition (cringe) is still floating around on YouTube somewhere.