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Royal Navy dinghy sailors celebrate epic voyage

17 June 2016
Two intrepid Royal Navy sailors Leading Hand Phil Slade and MOD worker Mark Belamarich completed an epic three–night sail in a two-man open dinghy today.

The Plymouth-based pair are now hopeful the unsupported achievement can be verified by Guinness World Records which had a team recording the attempt on an escorting yacht from Plymouth to Portsmouth naval bases, via a leg to and from France.

Mark said they were relieved to complete the endurance challenge because the weather was against them, at first too much wind, then not enough.

He said: “At one stage we were definitely panicking we wouldn’t make it – no wind and 45 miles from Portsmouth. I was worried we would just drift. We had to put up every sail we could to catch the wind.’’

At one stage we were definitely panicking we wouldn’t make it – no wind and 45 miles from Portsmouth. I was worried we would just drift. We had to put up every sail we could to catch the wind.

Mark Belamarich

Mark explained the weather was not the only issue, they had nowhere to sleep, with limited food and were always vulnerable to collisions with other large ships in the dark on the busiest shipping lane in the world: “It was a great challenge but physically demanding. We didn’t drink a lot of water and there was a bit of boredom at times but we didn’t fight! There were stages where we thought we wouldn’t make it.”

Phil, who works for 30 Commando, Royal Marines, at Stonehouse in Plymouth, said: “The challenge is great for Royal Navy and Royal Marines Sailing, as well as the Royal Navy and Royal Marines Charity.

"We believe in the charity, which is why we put ourselves out as far as we did. They look after our serving personnel, families and veterans, so it is great to raise their profile.

“We’re still hoping to raise the full amount of £5,000. We’ll be collecting at Armed Forces Day weekend with buckets on Plymouth Hoe.”

Rebecca Saunders, of the Royal Navy and Royal Marines Charity, said: "I'm so happy for the guys. They really dug deep in conditions far from ideal and should be really proud of themselves for completing all their miles. I look forward to hearing if they've achieved the world record that they so deserve.

"Thank you to all the family, friends and co-workers who have got behind Mark and Phil's challenge and made a donation to the Charity. I'm sure they'll hit their target."

Lieutenant Commanding Nik Cavill, commanding officer 30 Commando Information Exploitation Group, said: “This is an outstanding achievement by Leading Hand Phil Slade.

30 Commando and the wider Royal Marines are immensely proud of him and Mark Belamarich, who have demonstrated great mental and physical endurance to try and break this world record of the longest distance sailed in a double-handed dinghy.’’

The planned route was 320 nautical miles, the actual route is expected to exceed this and will be confirmed in next few days. The time taken was 71hrs 45mins (hit by low winds which hampered speed). Money raised so far: over £2500 (inc gift aid) and increasing.

To make a donation for the June event please go to:  uk.virginmoneygiving.com/camberbosunchallenge        

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