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Charlie in his boat, in the sleeping compartment. Not quite the Hilton…

Most guys undergoing a mid-life crisis buy themselves an ill-fitting leather jacket and, if they’re feeling flush, a sports car. If they have access to an impressionable younger woman they might even take a lover; if not they’ll try running or cycling until their joints give out. They are also invariably blissfully unaware of what is happening to them. “She makes me feel so alive”, they’ll say of their lover (or sports car), oblivious to the cliche that their life has become.

Charlie Pitcher, however, is not most guys. For a start, he’s unnervingly honest about his penchant for endurance challenges. “It’s a mid-life thing”, he says. “If you look at trends for men in their forties, it’s quite incredible… Also I get a buzz when I have achieved it; I feel I have achieved something. It counteracts an ability to do well in exams at school. I feel subconsciously better if I can show my kids some kind of inspiration; they’re doing really well at school but this is the best thing I can do.”

Wow. If Charlie’s blistering candour weren’t enough, though, take a quick glance at what his latest challenge is. In January 2013 he is going to attempt a world record crossing of the Atlantic, rowing solo for 3000 miles with no support boat, rowing for 16 hours a day in rough, possibly shark-infested waters.

“I love being out at sea,” he tells me. “I don’t mind being by myself with dangers and risks. I’ve overcome them before and I can overcome them again”.

If you want to get a taste of what Charlie’s challenge is going to be like, have a look at his website, Transatlantic Solo and watch the film. Impressed? You should be.

Charlie’s inspirations are Sir Ranulph Fiennes and Tom Creane, the unsung hero of both Shackleton and Scott’s polar expeditions – their names are written on his boat and he’ll look at them when times get tough. “I think about what they went through and I think to myself, it’s not so bad; man up”, he says.

Charlie is also motivated by the charities he’s raising money for: Great Ormond Street Hospital (a hospital for sick children in London, a visit to which is one of the most humbling and sobering experiences you’ll ever have) and the C Group, which helps to re-educate injured Royal Marines and seeks to get them back into work.

If you’re inspired to donate, you can do so via Charlie’s website here. And if you like the cut of his jib and would like to meet him and see the boat for yourself, he’s launching the challenge this Thursday, 27th September 2012, in Paternoster Square, London EC4. He’ll be accompanied by his trainer, Greg Whyte, who helped the likes of David Walliams and Eddie Izzard with their own extreme fundraising challenges.

Go on, give a little. After all, it’s a heck of a lot easier than rowing the Atlantic and cheaper than a sports car.

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2 Responses to “Charlie Pitcher, an Atlantic crossing and one heck of a mid-life crisis”

  1. Chris Martin says:

    Charlie really is one of the nicest guys in the sport. He’s unbelievably modest and so when he says he’s aiming to break the record you know you should be sitting up and listening. Several ocean rowers talk up their chances of breaking and setting world records to try and generate interest and ultimately sponsorship for their expedition. (yours truely included) The difference with Charlie is that he genuinally has a good chance of breaking the record. I saw his boat last night and as well as having a beautiful design it is significantly lighter than anything that has been rowed previously. He is so dedicated to going fast that he’ll pull as hard as he can on the oars for hours after most others would retire indoors for a rest. I wish him the best of luck and fully expect that he will break the record in January.

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