Crew With a Cause: Burpees for Days

18 May 2016 By Hillary Hoffower

Capt. Guy Morrall of M/Y Talitha is no stranger to merging a good challenge with a good cause, especially during the primetime of a transatlantic journey.

“Atlantic crossings are a time when it’s advisable for a skipper to suggest an alternative focus, away from work or watchkeeping,” he says. “If not, there can be a tendency towards setting new personal records for most TV episodes watched in one week.”

In 2010, he and his crew embarked on a “logistical and physical battle” to row their way across the Atlantic to raise money for UNICEF. In Antigua, they completed a “goat” track challenge to raise money for a local charity. And prior to their 2014 east-west crossing, they challenged themselves to complete as many press-ups as there were miles in the crossing in a challenge to keep busy on board — approximately 3,400 a person, to be exact.

So what challenge would Capt. Morrall and his crew face this year? After much one-sided debate, the team settled on creating the WhatNot2Waste campaign, in which they’ve pledged to complete one million burpees by the year’s end to draw crew and owners’ attention to reducing waste on board.

“We felt that waste touched on everyone’s lives; [that] it was all around us and our responsibility to do better. So waste became WhatNot2Waste, and the ‘somethings’ became burpees,” says Morrall, explaining that they agreed to repeat the tried and true format of the previous year’s press-ups, but to change the exercise to a more physically demanding and time-consuming one (burpees are the most effective exercise, according to leading exercise scientists).

“Now, and for some time, we have lived in a world of abundance and excess. Our expectation is that we can have whatever we want, whenever we want it,” adds Capt. Morrall. “Can it go on forever? For most, whilst at home, it’s second nature to consider your energy use, the miles per gallon of your car, the food you’re eating, the need to recycle… Curiously, at work (in this case, a yacht), this isn’t always the case. WhatNot2Waste thinks it’s a simple matter of realigning some attitudes, encouraging crew to ask questions, and reminding some that it’s everyone’s responsibility to doing more to waste less.”

To help spread this message, the crew kicked off the campaign in January, completing multiple daily sets of the grueling press-up, squat, and jump exercise, with some even completing up to 200 burpees a day. The entire Talitha crew has also joined the 100 Burpee Club by completing 100 uninterrupted burpees in one session. In just the first month, they completed 44,131 total, but there’s still a long way to go — 670,000 burpees in fact, according to Morrall.

“It’s a constant battle,” he says. “We have good days and bad days. Good and bad months, actually. We’re halfway through month five and we’re now at the point of realizing that we might actually get there. We’re too far in to give up.”

To help complete their goal of one million burpees, other yachts are getting on board to commit a minimum of one month to the challenge, the first being M/Y Nahlin. “Without Capt. Steve Hammond signing up at the very last minute, I’m fairly certain the event would’ve ended on January 30,” says Morrall.

Since then, M/Y Dragonfly, M/Y Butterfly, M/Y April, M/Y Shemara, M/Y Turmoil, and Yachtspot have completed their 30 days, with M/Y Infinity and Marmin joining the fray in May. According to Morrall, those lining up in the wings include M/Y Athena, M/Y Amaryllis, M/Y Alucia, M/Y Madame Gu, M/Y Moka, M/Y Rio Rita, M/Y Exuma, M/Y Tania T, Y.CO, Evolution Yachts, and MB’92.

“I’m appreciative of every yacht that has signed up,” says Capt. Morrall, adding that he would be delighted if an average of two boats a month participated, with a flurry at the end.

But the participants aren’t only contributing their best burpee efforts — they’re also agreeing to discuss, learn, and implement strategies and advice for waste reduction techniques on board. The Talitha crew has already taken several steps toward making their yacht greener, including strictly separating garbage to ease the recycling process, reducing meat consumption on board with “Meat Free Mondays,” using organic lubricant and biodegradable products, switching to CamelBak reusable bottles for water consumption, and reducing speed and managing equipment during crossings, which has made a notable difference.

Their next ongoing project is to communicate with ports on their itinerary and request different bins for their separated waste if facilities do not already exist. They wish to encourage other yachts to do the same; by doing so, M/Y Talitha hopes to create an opportunity for ports to implement a solution and make easy recycling the norm rather than the exception.

“Coming together to do an unusual physical challenge is our way to show the industry and owners that we’re motivated to change,” Morrall says. “Records broken, torn muscles, and a fantastic feeling of being part of something.”

Want to get on board? Email Follow the campaign’s progress on Instagram at @whanot2waste and at And once you start, don’t forget to post your photos to Instagram with the hashtag #whatnot2waste.

Photos are courtesy of @whatnot2waste’s Instagram.