Adam and Charlie from Emergensea Duo celebrate. Photo credit: Atlantic Campaigns
Race of a lifetime
While most of us were winding down for Christmas last year, Emergensea Duo an A&E doctor couple from Devon, decided to take on the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge - dubbed the world’s toughest rowing race. This gruelling challenge required the pair to row 3000 miles, unsupported across the Atlantic Ocean.
Aside from seeking a world record, the couple also wanted to raise money for essential medicine charities and contribute to research towards equal participation for men and women in ultra-endurance events.
To find out more about the escapades of the Emergensea Duo, head to our exclusive blog about their motivations and preparation.
On 12th December 2021, the pair departed from La Gomera in the Canary Islands as one of 36 boats competing in this arduous race.
Adam and Charlie's days on the water over the coming weeks were to be challenging, both physically and mentally. They would be isolated, with no human contact except for each other, and facing the elements for eight weeks.
As ever with sea travel, the weather had a huge impact. Back home we may wish for calm, sunny days, but for Adam and Charlie, the lack of wind could be a real problem. It made rowing more tiring and they had to work harder to bring them closer to their goal – some have described it as like rowing through soup. Making things worse, calm periods often came with intense heat, meaning that extra effort to push through the still waters was even more punishing.
Adam wearing goggles and coat against the elements. Photo credit: Atlantic Campaigns
Wind and waves – including The Trade Winds – could be a big help though, putting wind in their figurative sails by pushing them along. Of course, the rain and fog that can sometimes blight the Atlantic did not help things, and the couple frequently had to wrap up against the elements. Through all that, they forged on, goggles and raincoats essential to ensure optimum efficiency!
Although they started a bit slowly – 7th out of 10 in the pair race – Adam and Charlie picked up speed over the next few days and managed to pull themselves into 4th. The competition for the top spots would continue throughout the rest of the race, with Emergensea Duo frequently battling with Team Row 4 Hope. You’ll have to read to the end to find out the results.
“It is just so remote that at one point, mid atlantic we were closer to astronauts on the ISS then people on land” – Adam and Charlie
Out on the water at a time when many of us were with our families (restrictions permitting), they made sure to pack some essentials of a different kind to help get them through the isolation.
Adam preparing for Christmas dinner on the ocean. Photo credit: Atlantic Campaigns
They may have been lacking human contact, but the natural world gave Adam and Charlie some company on their journey. They were greeted by a pod of playful whales who swam along with them for a while and a pair of seabirds accompanied them for several weeks. All whilst having some of the best sunset views you can imagine.
Despite this, Adam and Charlie had to be mindful of the dangers that being alone at sea brings. For example, in previous years, several boats had succumbed to Marlin attacks. Although the Emergensea Duo had prepared for many types of emergency, it could still take up to five days for a rescue boat to reach them.
Endurance - pushing beyond limits
Adam and Charlie at sea. Photo credit: Atlantic Campaigns
One of the greatest challenges of competing in the race is rowing almost non-stop. Competitors typically row for two hours on, two hours off around the clock, making it a true endurance competition.
“With only 2 hours of downtime between rowing shifts to eat, drink, sort bum sores and allow our muscles and joints to recover, our mitouch was invaluable. We could rest with it on and wake up pain free.” – Adam and Charlie
As anyone who has taken part in something like this or has trained intensively can tell you, recovering effectively between periods of exercise is essential. Adam and Charlie are two of NuroKor’s ambassadors, who have been using our innovative technology for a while now, particularly during their training for the race, and they made sure to take their NuroKor devices with them.
Charlie helping her recovery with her NuroKor technology. Photo credit: Atlantic Campaigns
These proved to be incredibly useful during those periods of downtime, where our signature bioelectrical systems helped to improve circulation, muscle function, and delay the onset of soreness. Adam commented, “Charlie is really appreciating the aid and optimisation in recovery.”
Adam using his NuroKor mitouch for recovery. Photo credit: Atlantic Campaigns
Sadly, there were some things that NuroKor couldn’t help with. Adam and Charlie’s hands suffered a lot and blisters were a big issue, with Adam at one point looking like he was growing a sixth finger. Charlie describes his hands as “looking like the old tatty rag you find at the back of the cupboard you forgot about! I suppose that’s what rowing for over 34 days will look like.”
Blisters on Adam’s hands. Photo credit: Atlantic Campaigns
Looking back through the videos and pictures that Adam and Charlie took along the way, it’s clear that this, as many ultra-endurance events are, was a test of mental resilience as much as physical. They managed to keep each other in high spirits, even during some of the most difficult periods and were visibly emotional when the race came to an end.
Speaking of which…
After 3216 miles, On 1st February 2022, the Emergensea Duo crossed the finish line in The English Harbour, Antigua. Due to the tide and weather, the pair had gained and unfortunately lost places during the race. However, their final finishing position saw them take 1st for the mixed pairs and 4th for the pairs. They achieved a fantastic time of 51 days, 3 hours and 48 minutes.
“It was an incredible experience encompassing euphoric highs, deep lows & without doubt the hardest thing we have ever done. It’s almost impossible to impart just how mentally & to a lesser extent physically challenging rowing every 2 hours, 24/7 for over 7 weeks was. Charlie lost 11kg (-17%) and 8% body fat & Ad lost 9kg (-11%) & 10% body fat.” – Adam and Charlie
They are now the record holders for mixed teams.
Adam and Charlie nearing the finish line of the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge. Photo credit: Atlantic Campaigns
As for their other goals, the couple raised an incredible £24,000 for their chosen charities, but don’t worry if you want to donate, you still can! See here for more.
Charlie collected plenty of data for her research into physiological differences between males and females in ocean rowers. Read more about Charlie's research here.
And, perhaps most importantly, the couple’s relationship is stronger than ever!
The Emergensea Duo have shown just what can be achieved with determination and preparation; before the race they said they want to “inspire others to find their own ocean to cross.” Whilst they are currently resting, we’re sure that they will be back to training for another challenge before too long.
Adam and Charlie celebrating after the race. Photo credit: Atlantic Campaigns
We at NuroKor would like to congratulate Adam and Charlie for their exceptional achievements. They have raised a tremendous amount of money for some excellent causes and are now world-record holders! We’re so proud to have them as ambassadors for our products, and we look forward to supporting them in the next challenge they undertake, whatever it may be.