'Rowing around Britain is harder than rowing the Atlantic Ocean' says Essex pro sailor Charlie Pitcher

Enjoying oysters and beer in Mersea

Enjoying oysters and beer in Mersea - Credit: Courtesy of Charlie Pitcher

Charlie Pitcher has sailed since he was five years old and at 18 was the youngest ever crew member to compete in the America’s Cup.

With sea water flowing through his own veins, he took up ocean rowing 12 years ago and few can appreciate more the achievement of the dozen famous non-rowers he coached as they took part in ITV’s gruelling Don’t Rock the Boat last summer. 

'Rowing around Britain is harder than rowing the Atlantic Ocean,' he explains.

Charlie Pitcher briefing celebrities taking part in Don't Rock the Boat

Charlie Pitcher briefing celebrities taking part in Don't Rock the Boat - Credit: Courtesy of Charlie Pitcher

'The winds are much more variable, the tides need to be considered and you’re never far from the coastline, which in itself presents its own challenges – such as rocks, land spits and ferries.

'Although the support boats were nearby and each of the rowing boats had a skipper on board, the effort in rowing must not be underestimated. The celebrities all did really well to get to the finish line and we were very impressed that no one dropped out.'  

'The celebrities all did really well to get to the finish line and we were very impressed that no one dropped out'  

Charlie’s company, Rannoch Adventure, is based in Burnham on Crouch and supplied the boats as well as the expertise to coach and support the stars as they withstood the punishing schedule of long sea rowing stints alternated with harrowing adventurous challenges on land.  

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'It really was a huge achievement for them,' he says. 'For me, coaching and watching the celebrities’ progress was very rewarding, particularly seeing them at the end having achieved what they sometimes didn’t think would be possible.

'I enjoyed leading a brilliant Rannoch Adventure team too, which worked together in such a harmonious way.'  

Charlie Pitcher in the Atlantic

Charlie Pitcher - Credit: Courtesy of Charlie Pitcher

For Charlie, who has spent a great deal of his life on the ocean wave, there is no better place to sail and row than the Essex coast.  

'I am an Essex boy through and through, having grown up in Burnham on Crouch and lived in Chelmsford, Maldon and now Felsted,' he explains.  

'The Pitchers have been sailing for generations on the east coast and Essex itself has hundreds of years of heritage in the world of sailing and boat-building.

'The stretches of water between Burnham on Crouch and Harwich are exciting places to sail with very strong sailing communities, but  West Mersea is my favourite. It’s a busy, thriving sailing and fishing community, and I love their oysters!' 

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