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“Emergensea Duo” Charlie Fleury and Adam Baker

Exeter Extreme Medicine graduates to tackle 3,000 mile Atlantic row as first married couple

Two University of Exeter graduates in Extreme Medicine are preparing to tackle a 3,000 mile row across the Atlantic as the first ever married couple to race in the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge (TWAC). In light of emerging evidence that females can outperform males over extreme distances, the pair aim to harness their own bodies for research to shed light on the changes in physiology and psychology between males and females in ultra-endurance events.

“Emergensea Duo” Charlie Fleury and Adam Baker, both emergency medicine doctors in Devon, are racing for the mixed pairs world record and fundraising for frontline medical charities. On the 12th of December, 39 teams from around the globe will race from the Canary Islands to the Caribbean in the “World’s toughest row”.

Charlie first came up with the idea to row an ocean whilst camping on a frozen lake in Norway as part of the polar medicine module of the Extreme Medicine Master’s programme. Having never rowed before she wanted to undertake an epic adventure that would push her both mentally and physically. Adam was hesitant to join initially as he gets incredibly seasick, but the adventure was too exciting to turn down.

Charlie, 31, commented: “The Covid pandemic pushed the race back a year for me, as we stepped up our work in A&E. 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 and I will be the first ever married couple to race in TWAC which is so exciting and makes the experience even more special.”

Adam, 31, said: “I’m looking forward to pushing through our perceived mental barriers and taking on the extremes of the ocean. We will be so remote and constantly exposed to the elements. This will also enable us to look at the female and male trends in exactly the same race conditions and learn more about this area of research where there are huge gaps in real time data.”

The couple are currently training from Exmouth each week, alongside working full time in Exeter A&E, the Devon Air Ambulance and dealing with medical issues themselves. Charlie has had her pelvis reconstructed and only recently had the metal work removed, “now I really do have some screws loose!” she jokes. As part of their training, they are planning a big row to the Isles of Scilly in September to visit their main sponsor, the Scilly Spirit Distillery and showcase the boat’s new emergency themed wrap.

Charlie said: “The hardest part of this challenge is definitely getting to the start line. Training, campaigning and fundraising all whilst working full time in the Emergency Department is an ultra-event in itself and we’re incredibly grateful to everyone who supports us on this journey.”

Charlie and Adam are supporting frontline medical charities who encompass saving lives by air, land and sea; DAAT, RNLI, RD&E charity and Mind.

They have both finished the unique Master’s programme in Extreme Medicine delivered in partnership between the University of Exeter and World Extreme Medicine, the world's leading provider of specialist training courses for medics taking their skills into challenging environments.

You can support the Emergensea Duo and follow their journey on their webpage, Instagram and Facebook.

Date: 16 August 2021

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