50-year-old amateur Maltese athlete Steve Chetcuti is training to undertake the feat of a lifetime – rowing the Atlantic Ocean – and it’s all in aid of Hospice Malta and a few other charities.
The trip, which will kick off in March 2021, will see Chetcuti and five other rowers travel a whopping 6,000 kilometres over a projected 48 days.
The current record for this route stands at 48 days, 4 hours, and 30 minutes. Chetcuti and his team are thus looking to break that record and complete their journey in just under 48 days.
Chetcuti’s plans to undertake this challenge were birthed in November 2018, when he came across a film about four Swiss men who undertook the Talisker Whiskey Atlantic Challenge – a transatlantic rowing race.
Only nine months prior, Chetcuti’s brother, Mike, had passed away after battling a brain tumour. As he bid farewell to his brother, Chetcuti decided that he wanted to do something to honour his memory.
Rowing the Atlantic Ocean seemed like the perfect tribute to his brother.
“Michael spent the last years of his life making sure everything was prepared for his death, fighting hard, giving people hope when there was none, and keeping his spirits high,” Chetcuti wrote in his blog.
“It was a struggle, but every time I visited Malta, I was taken aback at how he kept on going despite what he was going through. In this same spirit, I will be taking on a challenge of my own.”
The three charities set to benefit from Chetcuti’s journey are Swiss Cancer League, a non-profit organisation attending to all aspects of cancer, Terre des Hommes, a Swiss child relief agency, and Hospice Malta.
As March edges closer and closer, Chetcuti has been keeping himself busy with day-long training sessions.
Last July, he conquered his first 24-hour row.
This session involved two hours of rowing followed by two hours of rest for a full 24 hours.
“The most important aspect for me was the message of support I received, even at 2am. They were so vital for me to keep going,” Chetcuti wrote.
“On the water, I’ll be able to receive messages, but what will really help is if people donate. I hope that happens.”
As of last October, Chetcuti was training twice or three times a day for anything between two and four hours – and while he still undertakes the occasional 24-hour session, he now has his eyes on a full-on 48-hour indoor row.
But training hasn’t always been fun and games for Chetcuti…
A few months ago, he found out he has carpal tunnel syndrome in both of his wrists.
“This is not too serious, but it means I need to get a double operation to fix them. It’s a relatively simple procedure, and I’ll have to get the hands done two days apart,” Chetcuti wrote.
“Once done, I need to take a 10-day to two-week break from intense training. That sucks, but it’s also good for my body. I guess it needs a bit of a break.”
Since then, Chetcuti has had both of his hands operated on and has successfully made a full recovery.
With the journey only three months away, Chetcuti is now focusing on adopting the right mindset for the task. So as anxieties start to set in, he reminds himself to think less of the final destination and more of the journey.
Want to follow Steve Chetcuti’s story?
Check out his blog and make a donation right here.