Strokes 4 Blokes

3,000 miles. 4 guys. 1 rowing boat. 1 important cause.

We’re Strokes 4 Blokes

Support us as we attempt to row an ocean in the 2022 Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge.

Every pound of the money we raise will go to the charity CALM, a leading UK movement against suicide. Chip in to help us reach our £250,000 target and open the conversation around men’s mental health.

Why are we doing it?

01Suicide is the biggest killer of men under 45
0275% of all UK suicides are male
0384 men take their lives every week

These figures are frightening, and they show beyond doubt that men have difficultly dealing with mental health issues. And we’ve seen first-hand the negative impact that can have. We’re blokes ourselves, and we all have fathers, brothers, children, friends, teammates, or colleagues who, one day, may need support.

Our mission is to raise awareness of this increasing problem and help CALM in their life-saving work. Our epic – and frankly, daunting – Atlantic rowing challenge was the best way we knew to do it.

The Crew

We’re four 30/40-something blokes who like to push themselves now and then. Three of us work in fitness, but none of us are endurance pros, and only one of us has rowing experience. For all of us, this is the biggest challenge we’ve ever faced (other than having kids).


Daniel Vacassin, 39

Dan calls himself an enthusiastic endurance amateur and the steady head on an unsteady ship.

Dan grew up in Yorkshire and now lives in London. He’s married to Faye, and they have three boys, Seb, Tom and Thibs. He works as a Business Psychologist, helping people improve their leadership and performance at work. His interests are sports, politics and food. In his free time, Dan coaches the under 11s team at his local rugby club. His ideal afternoon is watching a match in the pub, followed by a meal at home and too much red wine.


Jean-Claude Vacassin, 41

JC is the strategy and finance brain of the team. And because the row was his idea, he says he’s ready to take the flak.

JC is Dan’s big brother. He’s married to Clara and has two boys, Eric and Jacob. His unconventional career path began in retail management. He then founded a gym concept, and now he runs a fitness business consultancy. Beyond work, it’s mainly about sport for JC. He’s chairman of his local football club, where he also coaches the U12 team. Another of JC’s passions is chilling out on his own, which he knows will be a struggle with three other lumps in a tiny boat.


John Clark, 34

John thinks if a middle-aged bloke with no rowing experience can tackle one of the world’s harshest oceans, then maybe it’ll motivate others to achieve their goals too.

John grew up in Yorkshire before moving to his current home in Worcester, where he studied Sports & Exercise Science. He runs a gym and fitness consultancy business, and he’s been involved in competitive sports all his life. Semi-professional rugby was his game before breaking his neck (it sounds worse than it was, apparently). Strongman competitions came next, winning a few national titles. These days, it’s marathons. Next year, he’ll tackle the Marathon Des Sables, a 250km race across the Sahara.


Steve Mellor, 37

Steve’s first (perhaps, hardest) challenge is teaching the other three to row.

Steve lives and works in London, where he runs his Marylebone gym. While he’s dabbled in various sporting activities over the years, rowing has always been his thing – starting at the age of eleven. He loves the blend of technical skill, physical suffering and camaraderie. During his 18 years in the fitness industry, he’s been a personal trainer, lecturer and now, gym owner. So, he knows there’s no excuse for not getting the practice in on the rowing machine.

The Challenge

Time until the 2022 race starts

The Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge is a 3,000-mile row from the Canary Islands to the West Indies. Every winter, up to 30 teams from around the world take on ‘The world’s toughest row’. In 2022, we’ll be joining them.

It’s something we’ve all talked about, joked about, and threatened to do many a time. But it also appealed because it’s a mental as well as a physical challenge. We’ll have to work as a team, communicate, be vulnerable, and support each other. With our chosen charity in mind, it felt like the most appropriate challenge for us.

The Charity

We’re hoping to raise £250,000 for CALM (The Campaign Against Living Miserably) and their mission to take a stand against suicide.

At the heart of their brilliant efforts is the CALM helpline, which has been receiving a call every 66 seconds since lockdown.

Every £8 donated could pay for one of these invaluable calls, and who knows the positive impact that could have.

125 people take their lives each week and that’s not okay. CALM exists to change that – and we couldn’t do it without the support of incredible people like Strokes 4 Blokes. We’re constantly amazed by the lengths to which people will go to support CALM and raise awareness of our work, and we wish Strokes 4 Blokes all the very best for their incredible challenge.
Simon Gunning, CALM’s CEO

Need support? Worried about someone?

CALM’s free, anonymous and confidential helpline and webchat are open every day, 5pm-midnight.

Call 0800 58 58 58 or go to the CALM website to access the webchat or find out more.

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