James Ketchell: Row GBFrom The Field
After suffering a horrific motorbike accident, James Ketchell overcame permanent physical impairment to lead him on a journey of self-discovery and adventure. In 2010, he single-handedly rowed across 3,000 miles of Atlantic Ocean, battling storms and near misses with container ships. He then climbed Everest before cycling around the world. It was a feat dubbed ‘The Ultimate Triathlon’. On the release of his new book about his exploits, James chats to Sidetracked about what he’s learnt on his adventures, and also about his latest challenge: Row GB, solo, nonstop and unsupported circumnavigation around Great Britain, some 2,000 miles. He set off on June 25.
Where are you right now, and how do you feel before your challenge? Can anything prepare you for the GB Row?
I am currently at home in Basingstoke sitting on my sofa as I type this. I’m feeling confident and very much looking forward to getting out there. The best way to prepare is to spend as much time in the boat prior to the trip.
Why did you decide to do this challenge? How did the idea come about?
I wanted to do something in the UK and I still very much like ocean rowing so it was a good fit for me. The idea came to me when I was in Australia last year getting ready to row across the Indian Ocean.
What do you hope to achieve? What is the key aim?
I hope to inspire young people to pursue their own dreams and goals whatever they may be. The key aim is also to raise funds and awareness for children’s charity Over The Wall who I am rowing around GB in aid of. More info can be found at www.otw.org.uk.
What do you think the biggest challenges will be?
Battling the tides and weather is something I anticipate to be one of the biggest challenges. I can’t get out of the boat so in rough weather I have to find areas to shelter while using an anchor to hold my position.
What was the most important thing you learnt on the ultimate triathlon?
I think it would be: never give up. So many times things were not going well and I felt quite down. But then the next day something amazing would happen and I’d feel great. When you’re close to thinking of giving up but push on there is almost always something good waiting for you.
If you could go back in time and tell yourself something as you were setting off on the ultimate triathlon what would it be?
I think it would be, just go with the flow, everything works out in the end and always be open to change.
What’s surprised you most during your journey?
I think the thing that surprised me the most was just how amazing human beings are. It doesn’t matter what country you’re from or race an individual is, everyone that I came in contact with was amazingly supportive.
Was there one piece of kit that you used or took on all of the parts?
Yes, I took my iPhone which I used to navigate around the world and stay connected with friends and family.
To someone hoping to embark on their own expedition, what advice would you offer?
Don’t be afraid to take the first step, things get easier once a decision has been made to pursue a goal. Also enjoy every part of it, from the planning, preparation and the expedition itself, because before you know it, it’s all over.
Lastly, don’t ever let anyone tell you, you can’t or shouldn’t do it!
His book The Ultimate Triathlon is out now.