Off the sofa – and across the ocean!

MCHG   12-763                    Charlie Bicknell lives in Berkhamstead High Street and wants to row the Atlantic.
MCHG 12-763 Charlie Bicknell lives in Berkhamstead High Street and wants to row the Atlantic.

A FORMER video games addict who would spend more than six hours a day on his console now aims to become the youngest person to row the Atlantic.

Charlie Bicknell, 19, of High Street, Berkhamsted, hopes to take part in the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge next year.

The event – which calls itself ‘the toughest rowing race in the world’ – begins in Spain, and finishes in the Caribbean.

Charlie said: “I love adventure and seeing places and getting a feel for places and pushing my body and mind to the limit to see what I can do.

“There is a thrill in adventure that you do not get from other things. I hope I keep doing it and that it gets harder and harder and travelling and seeing the beautiful side of the world. There’s nothing that beats it.”

Challenge participants will have to row more than 3,000 miles, dodging 30-foot waves, cargo ships and all kinds of sea creatures.

If Charlie completes the challenge – and nobody beats him to it – he will become the youngest person ever to row the Atlanic, the world’s second largest ocean.

He also wants to become the fastest, and has just finished a Lands End to John O’Groats cycle ride to prepare him for the toughness of the challenge.

That’s not to mention racing round the Bolton Iron Man triathlon in July, where he had to swim 2.4 miles, cycle 112 miles and run a full marathon.

He was the youngest person to finish it, coming eighth in his 18 to 24 age group with a time of 11hrs 43mins.

It’s a world away from how he used to live his life while studying first at Egerton Rothesay School in Northchurch and then John F. Kennedy School in Hemel Hempstead.

He said: “I would get up at 5am to play video games and never did anything with my life. I did not have a social life at all.

“I was so addicted that as soon as I got home at 4.30pm I would play until my parents kicked me off after about four hours.”

During weekends he would play from when he woke up to when he went to bed unless his parents stopped him.

He now aims instead to spend all that time in the pool, training to swim the English Channel in August next year – which he hopes will boost his mental and physical endurance.

He said: “I love people and I am no longer interested in computer games. I am interested in the real world and real life and spending time with other people and myself.”

But he has to raise up to £100,000 to buy a boat for the Atlantic event, and is looking for a charity to support while he tackles his ultimate challenge .

If you can help, phone him on 07585 660623.