GUY DRESSER

Guy is a corporate communications director, married to Kate with two grown-up children and three step-children. He lives in Zurich and is from Kingston upon Thames, South West London.

Challenge motivation:

I’ve had a folder on my computer for over a decade called ‘Atlantic Challenge’. I’m an ex-GB canoeist and a member of the Royal Canoe Club in Teddington where there is a pic of Jock Wishart who rowed the Atlantic about 15 years ago on the board there, as he is a member. I spoke to him at the time about his experience and it is something I have wanted to do since.

Team Margot is the most fantastic cause. There is nothing as precious in life as children. I have had the privilege of watching my kids grow up and become reasonably well-adjusted individuals. I can’t conceive of a situation where my child was helpless and sick and I couldn’t do anything about it. Doing this to help get more people registered as blood stem cell donors will fundamentally save lives. In a year’s time if we have significantly increased the number of people who have signed up it will have been worthwhile.

I’m registered as a stem cell donor. It is so quick and simple to do. I feel registering is a civic duty really. It is particularly important for people of mixed heritage to register. I’m from a mixed heritage background as my father’s family is Jewish and came over to the UK from Austria at the tail end of the 19th century.

Toughest sporting challenge yet?

It will be the hardest thing I have ever done. I have completed challenges including a six-week 2,300km kayak down the Danube, cycling from Land’s End to John O’ Groats and the Devizes to Westminster canoe race several times, but with all these you can stop at end of day. With this it’s not just rowing, it’s the sea sickness, the sleep deprivation, it will test every aspect of your personality. I think the psychological side of this is going to be enormous. I have been told you have to train and train and train because if you have any weaknesses the ocean will find you out.

Preparing for THE challenge:

I’m doing lots of gym work and time on the ergometer rowing machine and lots of cycling and kayaking which uses similar muscle groups to rowing.

I’m the oldest person in the boat at 52 so I need to focus on staying injury free, which will be tough. I’m talking to people who have done it before like Jock Wishart, who did it when he was 58, to help understand the extent of the challenge.

Most looking forward to:

Finding out something about myself. Everyone in life should do something that really takes them out of their comfort zone and challenge what they want to do and who they are.

When I kayaked down the Danube we were paddling for 12 hours a day and I learnt to dig deep. We will be rowing for a similar time each day and will get to know ourselves physically and psychologically in a way we haven’t before.

The most exciting part will be being at the furthest point away from land and looking in every direction and seeing nothing but water. It will be a sobering moment.

Least looking forward to:

The toilet bucket - lack of dignity. Sea sickness and rowing naked - I will do whatever necessary to look after myself and will do this if have to. But I may have a strategically placed loin cloth!

But the discomfort is just what I need to do to promote stem cell registration and fulfil a personal dream I have had for many years.

What you bring to team:

A can-do attitude. I’m methodical, a planner and well organised.

Miss most while away:

Fresh food and daily interaction with the people I am close to.

Christmas Day away:

It will be the first time I’ve not spent Christmas with my family. But the sense of wanting to do it overwhelms what I will be missing. We will create some Christmas traditions while out there.

Trip playlist:

I like really cheesy music like 70s disco and soul music. Anything with a decent rhythm. My kids ban me from playing any of my music in the car. I find Village People motivational with songs like YMCA, In the Navy and Macho Man.

Essential for trip:

A diary. Keeping it dry will be challenging. I took a diary when I did the Danube challenge which I wrote in everyday and it was a great discipline. Days merge into each other and at the end you can hardly remember anything. There won’t be many landmarks, so it will be useful to look back afterwards at things I will want to remember.

The finish:

My wife will come and meet me at the finish in Antigua and hopefully some of the children. It will be amazing to see family and I will also be looking forward to having a hot shower with some soap. I have only been to Antigua briefly. It has been on the holiday bucket list, I just didn’t envisage rowing there.

When back home I see this as a chance to change my approach to life and just acknowledge that we are only here for a relatively short period of time and so seek out some other challenges. I think life will look a lot different when I finish this and my perspective on life will have changed.

Back to the Crew

YOUR STEM CELLS CAN SAVE A LIFE.

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