Married doctors from Exeter complete 'world's toughest row' across the Atlantic

A husband and wife team of doctors from Exeter has arrived in Antigua after completing what is described as the 'world's toughest row'.

Adam Baker and Charlie Fleury, who work in the Emergency Department at the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital, swapped their scrubs for the sea to race in the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge.

Calling themselves "Emergensea Duo", the pair set off from the Canary Islands on 12 December, completing the 3,000 mile journey across the ocean on 1 February after more than seven weeks of rowing.

Doctors Adam Baker and Charlie Fleury swapped their scrubs for the sea to compete in the Atlantic Challenge. Credit: Alasdair Joyce

It took precisely 51 days, 3 hours and 48 minutes. Adam and Charlie - the first married couple to take part in the race - finished first in the mixed pairs and 25th out of 36 overall.

The race was tough going - the medics had to cope with seasickness and, at points. hallucinations along with challenging weather conditions. One night a strong headwind meant they had to lock themselves up for eight to nine hours, both squeezed in the small cabin for one person.

Charlie Fleury said: "This has been such a tough challenge with so many highs and lows. There aren’t many ultra-events that last longer than seven weeks and have such a variety of weather conditions to tackle."

Adam and Charlie at the oars of their rowing boat, Persistence - known as Percy. Credit: Atlantic Campaigns

There were compensations, however, the couple said.

Adam Baker said there were some incredible sights along the way: "We got to see a couple of pods of orcas, which was awesome. One of them had a little baby with them, which was just unreal to see", he said.

"The stars were unlike anything we'd ever seen anywhere else. So many shooting stars."

"We had two birds that followed us almost the entire way. So they joined us on the second day - almost like guiding us our entire journey."

Adam said at one point, they even had a shark following the boat.

As well as being a great sporting feat, the medics hope their experience will provide a wealth of medical insight.

The pair will be analysing data collected throughout their journey once they’ve settled back in Devon.

It may shed light on the emerging evidence that females may perform better than males in ultra-events like the Atlantic Challenge.

Doctors Charlie and Adam are the first husband and wife team to have raced in the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge. Credit: Atlantic Campaigns

Prof Ian Fussell, Associate Dean of Education at the University of Exeter’s College of Medicine and Health, said: “We’re delighted that Charlie and Adam made it to the Caribbean safely, and so proud they finished their adventure so successfully.

"It’s an incredible feat, and a great experience for them, and we look forward to seeing what insights they gain from their research.”

Charlie and Adam hope to raise around £100,000 for four frontline charities - Devon Air Ambulance, the RD&E charity, the RNLI and Mind - through their efforts.

More information can be found on the Emergensea Duo website.