Ben Fogle and James Cracknell have been a huge inspiration for us and helped out a lot over the past year in the run-up to the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge.
Ben Fogle, an up and coming television presenter at the time, and James Cracknell, a two time Olympic gold medal rower, first joined forces to row in the 2005 Atlantic Challenge in their boat 'The Spirit Of EDF Energy'. Ben had approached James at a party and asked if he wanted to row across the Atlantic with him. They crossed the finish line in third place and were the first in the pairs category, despite their boat capsizing during the challenge.
They landed in English Bay, Antigua at 7:13 on 19th January 2006 with a crossing time of 49 days, 19 hours and 8 minutes. Unfortunately the bad weather throughout the race forced them to use 60L of emergency ballast water making the boat lighter and therefore faster, so they were penalised and placed in fourth place overall and second place in their category. Ben and James didn't always get along on board The Spirit of EDF Energy, but after they spotted a whale and capsized with James still in the cabin they re-evaluated their lives and completed the race a couple of days later. Ben and James raised £20,466.37 for BBC Children In Need and when Dan and Will where seeking sponsorship Ben and James donated their rather weathered boat to them.
Their friendship didn’t end after their Atlantic Challenge. Three years later they embarked on their second daring expedition, pulling 200lb sleds 400 miles to the South Pole. Close friends and drinking partners for years, tragedy struck when James suffered a terrible head injury when he was hit by a trucks wing mirror as it travelled 70mph through Arizona where he was cycling.
Although he has recovered physically from this shocking experience he has still got a lot of psychological recovering to do. Despite this, Ben and James most recently travelled to the Middle East to traverse one of the most inhospitable deserts in the world on camel back! Since James’ accident he has suffered from epileptic fits brought on by stress, lack of water and tiredness, all of which they faced trekking across the desert.
An olympic rower and 'accidental' adventurer are hugely influential to us and Ben shows that you don't have to have rowing experience to take on this Atlantic Challenge - even a humble surveyor or headhunter can do it.
Thanks for the boat and huge influence guys, all the best in your future endeavours!