Woodside, California

As I am paddling across the Pacific, I will be the latest lab rat for Dr Neil Weston at the University of Portsmouth, UK. He wants to investigate the effects of solitude and stress on individuals in challenging situations. He’s already studied a number of yachtsmen in the Velux 5 Oceans round-the-world yacht race, and is now doing a supplemental study on me.

Originally the plan was that I should start doing the daily psychological questionnaire a couple of weeks before the launch, but yesterday I got this message from Dr Neil:

“Having read Fogle and Cracknell’s Atlantic Ocean Rowing book, I think it would be a good idea for you to start completing the questionnaires from a month before the start of the event (i.e. as soon as you can from this point onwards). Clearly many stressors surface in the month running up to the start of such endurance events so I think it would be useful to monitor these mood changes.”

I think this is academic-speak for “You’re entering the Crack-up Zone. Start the study now, because life is about to get interesting…”

[photo: discovering yell therapy in mid-Atlantic, 11th Feb 2006]

P.S. Once the WatchKeeper Project section of my website is launched towards the end of this month, you will be able to view the results of my psychological questionnaire online, and judge for yourself how sane (or otherwise) I am. I think it would be interesting to have a control experiment in which an office worker fills out the same questionnaire, and we see which of us is the more stressed…

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