Married doctors to spend Christmas Day rowing across Atlantic for charity

·3-min read
Adam Baker and Charlie Fleury (University of Exeter/PA) (PA Media)
Adam Baker and Charlie Fleury (University of Exeter/PA) (PA Media)

Two married NHS doctors are to spend Christmas Day on the high seas as they race across the Atlantic to raise money for charity.

Adam Baker and Charlie Fleury, both 31, are competing in the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge and left their starting point in the Canary Islands 10 days ago. They are not expected to reach Antigua for another month.

During the gruelling 40-day challenge, the pair will row 3,000 miles across the ocean north of Cape Verde in a 24ft boat while competing against 35 other crews.

Their vessel, which is called Percy, is about a third the size of a red phone box and they will take it in turns to row it, swapping every two hours around the clock.

The longest the couple had rowed together before they set off was five days. Mr Baker said it was his wife’s idea to take part, he having previously suffered from seasickness.

The A&E doctors said their work at the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital had prepared them for facing the pressures of navigating on the water, and that said they saw their position of being a husband and wife team as an “advantage”.

Mr Baker said he was “looking forward to pushing through our perceived mental barriers and taking on the extremes of the ocean”.

Adam Baker and Charlie Fleury (Family handout/PA) (PA Media)
Adam Baker and Charlie Fleury (Family handout/PA) (PA Media)

The pair hope to raise £100,000 for the Devon Air Ambulance, the RD&E charity, which supports the Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Foundation Trust, the RNLI and Mind.

They also hope to use their experience to help research how ultra-endurance sporting events affect men and women differently.

The trip was delayed for a year because of their commitments during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Ms Fleury said: “It has been incredibly hard to keep momentum going despite being so mentally fatigued with work pressures, but what good practice to prepare for this ultra-endurance challenge.”

Adam Baker and Charlie Fleury in training (University of Exeter/PA) (PA Media)
Adam Baker and Charlie Fleury in training (University of Exeter/PA) (PA Media)

Under team name Emergensea Duo, they will attempt to break the mixed pairs record for the crossing, deemed to be the “world’s toughest row”.

Husband and wife team Helena and Richard Smalman-Smith made a crossing to Barbados in 2012 in just over 75 days.

Another British team spending the festive period with paddle in hand is Anna Victorious – which includes Ed Smith, Rob Murray, Adam Green and Jack Biss – who are raising money for women’s cancer charity Victoria’s Promise after Mr Smith’s late wife Anna died from bowel cancer in 2018.

Anna Victorious team members Ed Smith, Rob Murray Adam Green and Jack Biss will spend Christmas on the ocean (Talisker/Parley for the Ocean).
Anna Victorious team members Ed Smith, Rob Murray Adam Green and Jack Biss will spend Christmas on the ocean (Talisker/Parley for the Ocean).

They are also rowing as ambassadors for One For The Sea – an initiative launched by Talisker and Parley for the Oceans to help support the protection and preservation of 100 million square metres of sea forest by 2023.

And they have so far raised almost £27,000 of their £100,000 target.

In total, there are 14 teams from the UK taking place in the challenge – including two solo rowers, six pairs, three trios, and eleven quartets and one group of five.

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