Health and Fitness

Veteran Aims To Break Pacific Rowing Record

Charlie Martell wants to become the first person to row solo the 5,000 miles from Japan to the USA.

Army veteran Charlie Martell is hoping to become the first person to row solo across the North Pacific.

Mr Martell tried unsuccessfully to complete the 5,000 mile journey in 2012 but a typhoon meant he had to cut the trip short.

Seven years later the father of five is determined to try again.

“It was scary,” Mr Martell told Forces News.

“If you want to see a grown man crying on video you can go onto YouTube and there’s me almost blubbing my eyes out.

“Because you feel that you’ve let down yourself, your family, friends, supporters, sponsors, everybody because you’ve gone out with this whole focus to get the job done and you’ve failed. Through not fault of your own but you still feel empty.”

Mr Martell plans on using the same boat, 'Blossom', in his attempt to row from Japan to the USA and is due to set off in the spring.  

“It’s more mentally tough than physical,” he says.

“Anyone around here can row an ocean tomorrow physically but how do you deal with being on your own – potentially for six months – is the hard bit.

"I don’t think anyone can really train for that. So that’s going to be the tough bit.”

On good days you can see dolphins, birds and other wildlife. Other days, when progress is slow or the weather is wild, that is when he finds things frustrating.

Although he is no stranger to danger - as a Royal Engineer he was deployed to Iraq, Bosnia and Northern Ireland – he believes his life is not at risk crossing the Pacific.

“Well I don’t think anyone has died on that route,” he says.

Regardless, his wife believes he is putting his life at risk and he concedes there is always the risk of capsizing.

“I’ve got a life raft, I’ve got lots of spare [kit] and that sort of stuff to go with me,” he says.

“I think there is more danger going up Everest than crossing the Pacific, personally.

"Gravity wins on Everest, I’m on the water, I’ll float. So I’ll be picked up at some stage.”

Another aspect of the challenge is raising money for good causes - including two military charities, Veterans In Action and the Allied Forces Foundation.

At the time of writing this article, Mr Martell has received just over £5,750 in donations and aims to raise £100,000 by the time he leaves Japan on 23 April.