Two dinghy sailors working for the Royal Navy are confident the weather and tides will run fair for them in their bid to break a dinghy endurance sailing record on Monday (June 13).

Leading Seaman Phil Slade and Ministry of Defence employee Mark Belamarich are planning to sail about 300 miles from Plymouth’s Royal Navy and Royal Marines Sail Training Centre Camber on Plymouth Sound to Whale Island in Portsmouth.

The challenge is in aid of the Royal Navy and Royal Marines Charity (RNRMC) and the intrepid pair’s target is to complete it in about 60 hours (three nights), depending on wind levels and timing tides right.

World record attempt

Details of the record attempt are; the attempt is for the ‘Longest Distance Sailed in a Double Handed Dinghy’. The current record is 555.6 km, which is 300 nm (about 345 mi). To beat it they are planning a route for 320 nm (368 mi) which would take 64 hrs at 5 knots and involve crossing the Channel twice in a basic, unmodified basic 14-foot Bosun Class dinghy.

Phil, who works with 30 Commando Information Group at Royal Marines Stonehouse, in Plymouth, managing the sailing centre, said: “We are confident we can achieve this and raise funds for charity.  We have already tested the dinghy fully loaded for the bid and it handled well. We are now in the hands of the weather.  At this range it’s not a reliable forecast – but there looks like stronger winds than are ideal over a sustained period from Monday. But we will just have to adapt.’’

The expedition is unusual for choosing to sail a small dinghy in the dark over Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday nights. Small boats run the danger of being hit by much larger ships in the busy lanes of the Channel. Navigating without daytime visual aids or radar and charts will also be a challenge.  Righting a dinghy and recovering both crew in the dark  is also tricky.  The pair will be doing without sleep and snacking on high calorific rations to survive the highly physical nature of sailing for long periods. 

Donate to the challenge

To make a donation for the June event please go to:  uk.virginmoneygiving.com/camberbosunchallenge The sailors can also be tracked on the virginmoneygiving.com via a satellite tracking device. They start from Plymouth’s Stonehouse Camber on Monday at 8pm and aim to reach Portsmouth on Thursday 16th June at about midday.