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Our CEO is taking on the

World’s Toughest Row. 

Every year, something quite remarkable happens in early December. On the small island of La Gomera; an eclectic group of people gather to launch their boats and begin the long crossing. Over the coming months, they will row across the breadth of the mighty Atlantic Ocean. And this December, amongst the unusual few commencing this journey of a lifetime will be Dan Dicker, CEO and Founder of Circular&Co.

Dan is not a man to shy away from a challenge. Taking on the wasteful status quo to build a sustainable, Circular Economy future is no mean feat. That’s why, when he sat us down a couple of years ago to tell us about his row, we weren’t too surprised. We caught up with him recently to get the grips with the mission and, more to the point, why on earth he’s going for it!

So Dan, let’s get straight to it; with 293 days to go, what is your one biggest fear and your one biggest ambition for the crossing?

Fear has to be Marlin strikes!!  This year, there were three attacks on one boat alone; this is where Marlin inadvertently spear the boat when attacking the small fish that tend to hang around your boat.  The spike comes right through the hull, and if you are in the wrong place at the wrong time, a sticking plaster isn’t going to cover it!! 

Ambition is for me and my team mates to all get across safely, have some real fun on the way, create some amazing memories and help raise awareness on climate.  So not many!

The World’s Toughest Row is not a natural next step for a gentleman turning 50. In fact more people have climbed Everest than have rowed across the Atlantic. What sparked the initial thought, and what then drove the motivation to be a part of it? 

I’ve always loved the sea and the thought of being lucky enough to immerse myself in it with no sight of land for around 50 days was really appealing.  That and removing yourself from the everyday pressures of phones and emails for a small while, I kind of temporary pause at 50 seemed a healthy thing to do.  I’m really conscious it’s quite a selfish thing to do as it puts pressure on my wife and family to ‘carry the can’, not just during the race but the months, if not years, leading up to the event. I’m very lucky to be doing the event and it’s much appreciated.

We’ve learned from the World Toughest Row that each team will row in excess of 1.5 million oar strokes over a race… How’s the training going??

Brutal!!  We have a coach , a proper gym monkey who is constantly shouting gym abbreviations that mean nothing to me!  Apparently we have to put a huge effort into training between Jan and April so by May we can get out on our boat and put the sea miles in.   Right now we are rowing 3 or 4 times a week for around 1.5 hours a time but it’s really hard, power and high tempo stuff.  You finish just about every session feeling sick.  I’d never, ever be pushing myself this hard in normal life but you don’t want to be that weak link in the team, the one that missed a few sessions and let the others down. You will 100% be found out if you do slack.  Love it though.


Imagine you’re on day 29 of the row. Can you set the scene for us, giving us a flavour of what a typical day on the boat might be like? 

We do actually have a set routine all planned; you have to row for 2 hours at a time, then rotate and take a 2-hour break. In that time, you have to cook and eat, wash, maintain the boat, take location readings, and all being over 50, do plenty of stretches.  You really have to look after your body; one tiny source of cut in week one will just grow and grow, and the salty environment just eats at you.

We know part of your reasoning for undertaking this challenge is to raise some serious funds for some serious charities. Can you tell us a little about that?

Jason’s son Jakie has suffered from Diabetes since he was 10, so we are desperate to raise funds for Diabetes UK. It’s very close to Jason’s heart, and I know Jake has been an inspiration to him. My mum died 14 years ago from Cancer, and let’s face it, all of us have been affected in some way, so we are supporting Cancer Research. Lastly, The Final Straw Foundation, who are a more local Charity that campaigns to keep our oceans free from pollution. We are looking to raise upwards of 200k between them if we can.


Can you give us a brief rundown of the crew you are tackling this with?

I’m definitely the powerhouse, the ox of the crew!!  No, I joke, Steve, Jon and Jason and proper big rowing lads, and I’m the cox.  Steve is a recently retired Primary Head and is in charge of boat prep and maintenance; Jon is a Deputy Head (see the lesson’s connection) and is the skipper looking after navigation, etc.. And finally, Jason is a Physio who will make sure we don’t fall apart.  I’m helping the media and logistics side as well as making the tea.  They are such a good group; even with 9 months to go, you really gel and feel that together, we can take on the world.  We’ve already been together preparing for the event for nearly 3 years; it’s a real challenge to even get to the start line; the drop in our statistics is really high.

We know you intend to deliver a range of ‘Lessons’ in the lead-up to launch day and during the crossing. What is the concept of the ‘Lessons’ and how will you roll them out?

We intend to run a series of live lessons from the boat to thousands of school children, all relevant and linked to the national curriculum but focusing on how we can all make things better.  We are also in the run up to the row trying to get into as many schools as possible.

We want to inspire, not lecture, the next generation to not just look after the ocean and the environment but to show the way in which they can do it.  We have to be solution-based rather than just constantly scaremongers, and the reach from the whole event gives us a perfect platform.

How and where can people find out more about the Lessons From A Boat journey? And where can people donate?

www.lessonfromaboat.com and @lessonsfromaboat on Instagram.

Please forgive our social media posts we are all over 50 and don’t have a clue what we are doing.*  We have to raise around £120,000 to get to the start line, so any support is hugely appreciated, £10 buys us a freeze-dried meal, and we need 600.  £50 a harness that allows us to clip onto the boat so we can’t fall overboard, another fear I forgot to mention!!  

*note from the editor: Their Instagram is hilarious and very much worth the follow.