And They're Off! Princess Charlene’s Epic 180k Water Bike Challenge For Charity Is Under Way

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Nancy Heslin   Forbes Monaco

Princess Charlene and Connor McGergor  PHoto © Olivier Huitel

Photo: Eric Mathon/Palais Princier

At approximately 1 p.m. Saturday, Princess Charlene’s Calvi-Monaco Water Bike Challenge set off from the port of Calvi on Corsica’s northwest coast. The former Olympic swimmer will be pedaling on a water bike as part of a 180-kilometer crossing to raise awareness for various programs run by her foundation.

Called “The Crossing,” the epic race sees two teams of four international athletes faceoff for a 24-hour relay with a spectacular finish line at the Monaco Yacht Club, expected Sunday between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. In calm waters, the Schiller water bike only reaches an average speed of 12.8 km/h (although pros can hit 16 km/h).

“Since my youngest age and through my life as an athlete, I have always been aware of the dangers of water. In creating my foundation in 2012, my primary objective was to save lives by fighting against drowning in the world,” Princess Charlene, 42, told Forbes Monaco.

“The water bike race between Calvi and Monaco on September 12-13, and beyond the sporting challenge it represents, will be a formidable opportunity to raise public awareness about water safety and to promote the Learn to Swim and Water Safety programs,” she added.

The Princess is leading Team Serenity with Mathew Bennet (Guinness World Record holder as part of the first team to row the Atlantic unsupported), David Tanner (Australian professional road cyclist) and Brandon Green, son of Monaco resident and billionaire Sir Philip.

They are pitted against Team Notorious, which includes Gareth Wittstock, the foundation’s General Secretary and Charlene’s brother; Monaco Olympic gymnast Kevin Crovetto; 6-foot-5, 230-pound French handball champion Jerome Fernandez; and Guido Belinskis has replaced Conor McGregor.

Conor McGregor, a former featherweight and lightweight Ultimate Fighting Championship, was supposed to race but had to withdrawl after being arrested by police on Friday for allegedly exposing himself to a married woman in a bar on the night of September 6. McGregor’s lawyer, Emmanuelle Ramon, stated his client “vigorously denied any wrongdoing.” 

Since its launch In 2012, the Fondation de Princesse Charlène Monaco has reached 730,000 people in 34 countries, teaching them to swim, to learn essential water safety skills and “to appreciate the values of sport that are so dear to me.” 

The Princess has taken slack over the years for not choosing a more “worthwhile” or “glamorous” cause but the facts speak for themselves: every minute of every day, more than two people die from drowning worldwide and, stipulates the International Life Saving Federation, 50% of these are children.

Paula Radcliffe, who held the Women's World Marathon Record with a time of 2:15:25 for 16 years, participated in the previous two editions of the 21km Water Bike Challenge. “I chose to participate to support the work of the foundation and Princess Charlene and really enjoyed it,” the Monaco resident told Forbes Monaco. “It’s fun but hard to ride the bikes as you have to learn the balance and get the momentum right.”

Track The Crossing event live and donations can be made online through the foundation’s website.

For more see “The Princess And The Sea” in the September/October edition of Forbes Monaco in newsstands today.

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Nancy Heslin   Forbes Monaco

Nancy Heslin is an established journalist and lifestyle writer. She has been the Editor-in-Chief of Forbes Monaco magazine (bimonthly in English) , since the magazine's 2nd issue . Launched in November 2018, Forbes Monaco is part of the Forbes family, with its 7 million readers and 71 million monthly website visitors worldwide.