Rise Park man battles the waves to fight plastic pollutants

Charlie Smith training for the event

Charlie Smith training for the event - Credit: Archant

Team GB did a sterling job on the water in Rio, but how many gold medallists could say they have the grit to row across an ocean while battling hurricanes, 50ft waves and near starvation?

Charlie Smith is preparing to row across the Atlantic Ocean

Charlie Smith is preparing to row across the Atlantic Ocean - Credit: Archant

As part of the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge (Twac), one man from Rise Park will do just that and put himself to the test by spending 90 days rowing the Atlantic Ocean by himself.

More people have been into space or climbed Everest than rowed the 3,000 nautical miles, but former St Edward’s Church of England School pupil, Charlie Smith, 26, is determined to complete the feat in a bid to test his limits and raise awareness about plastic pollution.

“I’d be lying if I said I grew up dreaming of rowing the Atlantic Ocean,” he said.

“I’d never even thought about it before, until I was delayed for 12 hours at Heathrow airport a few years ago, with only a book to keep me company.”

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That book happened to be Salt, Sweat and Tears, an account of Adam Rackley and James Arnold’s successful voyage across the Atlantic in 2010.

The story sparked something within Charlie and he devoured every page, even managing to miss his flight in the process.

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And in another twist of fate, it was only afterwards he realised James from the book was actually his old landlord, and he thought if he can do it, I can try too.

“The more I researched about Twac the more I knew it was going to be hard – probably the hardest thing I’d ever do – but I knew it was within the human capacity, and therefore within my reach,” he said.

“The more time I trained and spent in the ocean, the clearer it became that plastic pollution is one of the most dangerous threats to the world today, but the one least talked about.

“Enough plastic is thrown away every year to circle the earth four times, and plastic does not degrade, it breaks down into smaller pieces – small enough for dolphins, tortoises, fish, and even humans, to ingest – but never disappears.

“Approximately 90 per cent of all the trash on the ocean’s surface is plastic, and it’s estimated that by 2050, there will be more plastics in the ocean by metric tonne than fish.”

Charlie now needs to raise £80,000 needed to take Part in Twac, with the help of corporate sponsors, and is hoping to raise an additional £50,000 for charity partners Fauna-Flora International, who will put the capital into marine conservation.

Charlie, who works as an operations manager for Credit Suisse, has been training hard to make sure that he is fit and ready.

On top of rowing three to four times a week he also completes four weight training sessions and a run to prepare for the challenge which will take place in 2018.

Visit charlierows.com or for more about the race go to taliskerwhiskyatlanticchallenge.com

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