Name (s): Hec Turner, Paddy Johnson, Max Mossman & Henry Quinlan
Hec – 10.06.93, Paddy – 24.02.1992, Henry – 15.02.1992, Max – 16.11.1991
Tell us what Pedal The Pond is and its aim?
Pedal The Pond is a pioneering pedal-powered ocean crossing that aims to use it’s maverick and record-breaking status to raise awareness for mental health and help put an end to societal stigma. Mental health is an issue with no boundaries but crucially we are four young men situated in the demographic that is most affected by suicide, so our narrative is aimed at getting young people (particularly men) to get talking about their mental health. With the help of our chosen charity the Charlie Waller Memorial Trust, we also aim to help educate people on the signs of depression.
Tell us about the charity it stands for?
The Charlie Waller Memorial Trust [CWMT] is a mental health charity set up in memory of a young man called Charlie that took his own life at the age of 28. We’ve sat down with Rachel and Mark (Charlie’s parents) a lot after deciding to do PTP in aid of their charity and every time, we leave more inspired by the work that the charity does.
The charity is all about educating people on the signs of depression and teaching them how to act. Suicide is the biggest killer of men under the age of 35 in the UK. This makes you wonder how many lives could be saved if people were more clued up on how to detect the signs of the illness in themselves and others and also how to be pragmatic about mental health.
CWMT concentrates resources in the education sector, sending trainers into schools and universities so that they can make an impression at a young age and get people talking about their mental health. They train GP’s on how to detect signs of mental illness along with all the do’s and don’t’s, and The Charlie Waller Institute at Reading University trains up clinicians to which GP’s can refer patients with a mental illness on to. They have also begun working with businesses to create mentally healthy work places.
How did you decide to choose this particular challenge?
We’ve got friends that have rowed the Atlantic before and it turns out we were all pretty jealous and have all wanted to do an ocean crossing. We’ve all done challenges in the past and wanted to do something different but it was actually Max’s idea to pedalo. He approached us all individually and the rest is history – I don’t think there was a single hesitation from anyone once we found out it was actually possible!
Did any of you need persuading?
Winning them over was easy! I had spoken to them all very briefly about the idea of doing the Atlantic in a pedalo before.. but it didn’t seem real and we were mainly laughing whilst talking about it. The idea was put on the back burner until I went to a boat show and by chance met Charlie from Rannoch Adventure who told me how this was very much a real possibility – they had designed an ocean-ready pedalo before.
Since then we’ve all been getting our heads together frequently to work out how we’re going to sell ourselves, get the pedalo built and make it all happen.
What have been the challenges in embarking on this challenge?
Mainly raising sponsorship money and getting people to realise that this is definitely happening. It was extremely difficult getting people to believe us when we didn’t have any proof of the pedalo being built. Now that we have that, people have been far more forthcoming. When you first mention a pedalo, people think you’re talking about a swan with big wheels on the side and slide off the back!
Whilst the challenge itself and the training isn’t easy, we’re all young guys who believe we are capable of the physical side of the challenge. It’s getting the pedalo in the water that is the hardest part, but the narrative and the cause associated with the project has of course garnered a lot of interest and things are looking extremely positive for a January 2018 departure date!
How much money are you trying to raise?
£200,000 for Charity.
How have you gone about raising the money?
Until a month ago we have had to concentrate on raising the funds for the boat via sponsorship. Now that we have 70% of our sponsorship money we have been able to focus more on the charity fundraising which is great.
We have kicked things off with a crowdfunding campaign aimed at raising £20,000 +. This has been a case of constantly privately messaging and emailing potential donors and getting them to donate in return for prizes that have been given to us by sponsors. If we raise that £20,000 by next month we will be 10% of the way to our full target of £200,000 which we aim to hit by the end of 2018.
CLICK HERE for our Crowdfunding Page
How did you go about obtaining your sponsors?
Mainly networking and speaking to people and friends who work for companies that might have CSR budgets. Ringing people up is the most effective way of getting a meeting – emails tend to fall on deaf ears a lot of the time.
What training has gone into the preparation for a challenge such as this?
We’ve been organising lots of mini challenges as a team along the way and our training has been orientated around that really. Around 4-6 gym sessions a week, contents of which are based on what we have next. For the Round Britain row we were doing a lot of endurance rowing, core work and leg weights. For our cycling trip up the gruelling Mont Ventoux leg of the Tour du France we did leg weights, running and cycling. For the challenge itself, it’s important to have good all round fitness levels but the truth is it’s not really possible to train for something that lasts this long. Our calorie intake / burn is going to be negative for the whole trip. From day 1 we are going to be losing body mass, so the main thing really is to be generally fit but also as big and strong as we can – even slightly fat – which is not something normally associated with an endurance athlete! It’s life on the boat in general that will take the most getting used to – not the physical side as you get into the rhythm as your time at sea increases.
How many calories will you be eating a day whilst on the boat?
6,000 which is the maximum the human body can absorb in a day. We’ve estimated that we will be burning 8,000 a day, so it’s important that when we leave port we have accumulated as much extra muscle mass as possible (and some fat too!) so we can afford to shed some as the challenge goes on.
Have you had to seek advice out in pursuing this challenge?
Henry: We have been advised and helped constantly by Rannoch Adventure. Rannoch are experts in the field of ocean crossings and pioneer everything in the industry from world records to (most importantly) safety. They have a 100% safety record and all of our training at sea so far has been taken alongside them so that we can learn from the best.
In terms of the money raising, we’ve had advice from family and friends which has been valuable. My old man thought the crowd funding idea was a good idea which we then decided to pursue but to be honest generally we’ve just had to get inside the heads of people looking at us and wonder how we can get their support!
Are you all juggling this alongside full time jobs? If so, are your work places supportive?
Hec: Yes, work are fully aware that I will be leaving in January, which is to their complement.
Henry: Paddy and I work for the same company and they are fully on board. Yes balancing training and fundraising alongside work is tough but so far it’s been OK.
Paddy: Yes, the juggling is hard but it’s been fine and actually I’ve found it’s made me a lot more organised generally
Max: Echoing all above – my work are being really supportive which is great
Have you got a dream time frame you would like to complete the challenge in?
It’s difficult as no one knows how fast a dual position pedalo can travel on average. We have heard from someone who has built a single position before and they can do 6 knots relatively easily… If that is the case and we could do more than that with two positions we would look to break the man powered record and do it in about 30 days.
Conditions obviously play a huge part too. In Dec/Jan/Feb the prevailing winds and current in the South Atlantic takes you East to West so typically the weather is in your favour, but if it takes a turn and the wind changes for a period you can find yourself not moving forward for days on end. We hope that we’ll be arriving any time between 30 and 45 days but we’ll be packing food and supplies for 65!
What advice would you give other young professionals looking to pursue a challenge of this ilk?
First of all, narrative is key if you’re looking to get sponsorship and media coverage, so make sure you have a strong message that strikes a chord with other people.
Secondly just go for it and make sure everyone in your team is as committed as you. Have a set plan in place of who you are going to target for sponsorship and have targets for each month leading up to the event. Take plenty of time to prepare as this has taken over 2 years to put in motion. You also have to believe in your cause and your charity. The CWMT work is inspiring and they have been fantastic in terms of helping us.
You’ll be spending a lot of time on the boat together- if in a moment of madness someone were to get chucked off for an annoying habit, who would it be and why?
Paddy: Max for his general stink
Henry: Very good question as there will be times where we get on each other’s nerves and tensions are riding high. We’ve heard stories of people not talking for months or even years after doing a crossing together, and we need to focus on not allowing that to happen as we’re all close mates. We’re all pretty laid back people so I don’t see that happening but you never know when you’re put in an adverse situation…we’ve decided amongst us that if we get annoyed with each other we have to just remind ourselves not to take anything personally and that we aren’t in the real world.
Who is most likely going to get sea sick?
Max: All of us! Apparently, a lot of the first week is spent feeling ill and then you get your sea legs. This will hopefully be mitigated heavily with all the training we’re going to be doing in the pedalo from September onwards and the two weeks in Gran Canaria before we leave port.
What are you all least looking forward to about the challenge?
Hec: Sea sickness in that first week!
Paddy: Acclimatising to being sleep deprived.
Max: Just thinking about home cooked food after weeks of a freeze dried diet!
Henry: Everything being soaking wet and salty.
What are you all most looking forward to about the challenge?
Hec: The sunsets are meant to be immense. Would love to see some dolphins and whales too!
Paddy: Cruising at night under the stars, being totally without everyday stuff for a bit, seeing wildlife
Max: Echoing most of the above! Think the feeling of concentrating all of your brainpower on moving, eating, sleeping, navigating and being positive/having a good time is going to be so nice
Henry: The feeling of arriving in Antigua knowing we’ve pioneered a new way of crossing an ocean, sunsets, wildlife, laughing at everyone having shockers on the boat on the way over
If you could all tell yourself one thing then, that you know now in regards to the prep of this particular challenge what would it be?
Paddy: Be thick skinned.. if someone doesn’t want to support you don’t take it to heart – there are people out there who will want to get behind something interesting.
Henry: Pick a good charity that is transparent with you and gives you the time of day
Max: Speak to everyone and anyone about it at every opportunity. I have had a lot of luck getting small amounts of funding here and there for chatting to random people about it in any social interaction
Hec: Think outside the box when it comes to both sides of fundraising…don’t rely on sending people emails. You need to work on ways of grabbing people’s attention.
Is there anyone who deserves a special mention in the lead up to this challenge?
Max: Our main sponsors Orbitsound, DHL and All About Bricks and also our families and close friends for supporting this challenge so far… it’s a lot of work for them too and we wouldn’t be able to do it alone. Some of our friends (Rowley, Chloe and Suzie special mention!) have also been great at getting us engaged with their work places which has led to sponsorship and amazing advice.
Ultimately what’s the goal?
Paddy: The ultimate goal is to have an effect on young people like us, being unafraid to talk about mental health, which with a successful crossing getting into the media we think will work. If we can get to our charity fundraising target we will also have a genuine effect on the way in which CWMT can educate people on issues and the signs of depression, which will be amazing.
The more head turning the crossing receives in terms of world records etc the better, as this will lead to more interest from the media and therefore more people engaged with our cause.
To find Pedal the Pond on their various platforms of social media click on the links below