10 October 2017

The RNLI and me: Guy Martin

Motorcycle racer and TV star mechanic Guy Martin recently visited the RNLI's engineers - so we couldn't resist chucking him in the sea survival pool. He had barely dried out when we nabbed him for a chat.

You had to jump in at the deep end (literally!) for capsize training earlier, how was it?

It was great. I didn’t really know what to expect but the RNLI trainers explained what to do. Rather than just jumping in as you would, you look forward – don’t look up, don’t look down. You hold your nose, hold your elbow, and just keep walking straight.

When you work to instructions, there’s no problem, no panicking. From the outside it must look extreme, but you’re prepared for everything. There were no shocks. It was a great experience.

And what a set up! The dummy engines, the sounds, the crane, the waves, the rain – it’s just great. And the helicopter noises? It’s very realistic.

You’ve done quite a few water-based world record attempts. Have they ever involved the RNLI?

We were mucking about last year trying to break the world record for the fastest pedalo. The RNLI gave us a hand, just in case it all went wrong, and they were more than helpful. I got talking to them and they invited me to Humber Lifeboat Station. We went out in the boat, around the Bull Sand Fort – a fort from the First World War in the River Humber. We had dinner together too. It was brilliant. They have a wild fox that’s become sort of tame. He’s called Basil.

Guy visits the RNLI All-weather Lifeboat CentrePhoto: RNLI/Nathan Williams
Guy visits the RNLI All-weather Lifeboat Centre

Would you like to join the crew?

Yes, I like being in sticky and risky situations. I’ve got a really busy job but I work in Grimsby, so I’d only be 10 minutes from Cleethorpes. It might be worth having a look! The dedication of all of the volunteers is bloody great.

Lifeboat crew can be on incredibly long shouts. What’s been your biggest feat of endurance?

Last year, I did the Tour Divide mountain bike race from Canada to Mexico. I slept in ditches for 2 hours a night – or whenever I got the chance – and it took me 18 days and 7 hours to complete the race. There was no outside help, you can’t talk to anyone during the race, and there’s no one at the start or finish line – it’s the strangest thing. It’s the biggest challenge I’ve ever undertaken and finished – it was great.

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Who is Guy Martin?

Born in Grimsby, Guy Martin is a mechanic better known for his motorcycle racing and television programmes, including The Boat That Guy Built and Speed with Guy Martin. When he’s not trying to break world speed records, he’s tinkering away with engines. Visit guymartinproper.com.