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Royal Navy dinghy sailors record breaking adventure confirmed

26 September 2017
A Royal Navy dinghy crew has been officially recognised for an amazing long-distance sailing double by breaking their own world record.

The Royal Navy sailor and a Ministry of Defence employee, both from Plymouth, were presented with their Guinness World Record certificates at a ceremony on Thursday 20 September.

Leading Seaman Philip Slade and Mark Belamarich took the record by sailing in adverse wind, tide and weather conditions and despite capsizing on the west coast of England.

The pair achieved the longest distance sailed in a double-handed dinghy - 613.93km (381.48mi; 331.5nm), completed between 8 and 12 May 2017. This was achieved less than 12 months after they set their first record in a cramped 14-foot Bosun dinghy used by the Royal Navy for adventure training.

Rear Admiral John Clink, who heads the Flag Officer Sea Training Organisation, presented the certificates to Mark and Phil at the Plymouth Armed Forces Office.

He said: “This is an amazing achievement, you should both be very proud of yourselves.

This is an amazing achievement, you should both be very proud of yourselves

Rear Admiral John Clink, Flag Officer Sea Training

The pair set off from the Royal Navy Joint Services Sailing Centre at Royal Marines Stonehouse in Plymouth.

Phil, a qualified sailing instructor and now an Armed Forces career advisor, said: “Mark and I are very relieved that the record has finally been confirmed. To beat our own record less than 12 months after setting it is a phenomenal feeling, especially as difficult as this attempt was. 

“We made two attempts this year, the first attempt we made had to be abandoned after 24hrs due to weather conditions in the Bristol Channel. The second attempt was less than a week later, and again we made really good time to Land’s End, and despite a quick capsize going round Land’s End we made good time across the Bristol Channel.

“It was really from this point we were struggling to reach tidal gates on time, struggling for wind and with the temperature so cold at night we were fighting the elements to carry on. We had to abandon this attempt just North West of Holyhead for safety reasons but it was enough to beat our record so we were happy.’’

Mark Belamarich, who works for 1 Assault Group Royal Marines in HM Naval Base, Devonport, said: “It’s been an anxious wait, but now we’ve had the record confirmed it’s a huge relief.

“ I feel we have set a world record that will stand for many years, the difficulty of living on such a small dinghy for many days affects you both physically and mentally.

“There were some difficult decisions to make I would even say emotional, the wellbeing and safety of each other and the dinghy was always priority and being a sea survival instructor the realisation of how quickly things can go wrong at sea were always on our minds.

“Phil and I put in a lot of training days, coming up with scenarios that could present themselves. We knew should a serious incident happen, our primary help would be self-rescue.

“The voyage proved very eventful but also extremely rewarding, I’m proud to have been part of it with memories that will last a lifetime. ‘’  

The record-breaking adventure was undertaken to highlight armed forces adventure training and to raise funds for two causes - the Royal Navy and Royal Marines Charity and Bowel Cancer UK.

They have raised nearly £4,000. Donations can still be made on uk.virginmoneygiving.com/bosunchallenge500. Mark, who has recovered from bowel cancer, is an ambassador for Bowel Cancer UK.

A spokesman for the RNRMC said: “Today is all about celebrating this incredible challenge; from the hard work and dedication both have shown to get Bosun Challenge off the ground; remarkable skills and endeavour of sailing a Bosun Dinghy further than anyone else before them and of course the raising a fantastic sum of money that will benefit the two charities.

“On behalf of RNRMC a huge thank you to you both and congratulations on your new achievement. BZ"

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