Charlie and Adam are about to row across the Atlantic.
Exeter Extreme Medicine graduates heading off to 3,000 mile Atlantic row as first married couple
This Sunday, two University of Exeter graduates in Extreme Medicine will head off 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 aim to fundraise £100,000 for frontline medical charities. On the 12th of December, 36 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 the momentum going, whilst 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 now on La Gomera where the race will start on Sunday. They are temporarily hanging up their scrubs after training for the row 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.
Charlie said: "Last time I was in La Gomera I was in a wheelchair and on crutches post major pelvis surgery. To be back here fighting fit two years later and about to row 3,000 miles is a dream come true. We have worked so very hard both physically and mentally to get to this point and we are so very grateful for all the support from our incredible sponsors and all those who have donated to our wonderful charities."
Adam added: "We are now feeling apprehensive but raring to go and try and smash that mixed pair record."
Their home for the race will be a cosy 24 foot long ocean rowing boat ‘Percy’; the sleeping cabin is roughly a third of the volume of a red phone box. They will alternate, rowing two hours off, two hours on 24/7 for around six to seven weeks, with no outside support.
Charlie and Adam are supporting frontline medical charities who encompass saving lives by air, land and sea; DAAT, RNLI, RD&E charity and Mind. The pair can be live-tracked as they move across the ocean, via the free “YB Races” tracking app (type in “Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge 2021” and search for “Emergensea Duo”).
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.
Date: 8 December 2021