Two sailors bidding to break a dinghy endurance sailing world record arrived at the finish at Portsmouth this morning (Friday).

Leading Seaman Phil Slade (Royal Navy) and Mark Belamarich (Ministry of Defence) passed the landmark Round Tower at 8am and then met their families at the finish line on Whale Island after three nights at sea.

The pair sailed more than 300 miles from Plymouth’s Royal Navy and Royal Marines Sail Training Centre Camber on Plymouth Sound to Whale Island which they left on Tuesday. This distance would set a new standard for the Guinness World Records. The challenge is in aid of the Royal Navy and Royal Marines Charity (RNRMC).

"The challenge is great for Royal Navy and Royal Marines sailing, as well as the Royal Navy and Royal Marines Charity," said Phil. "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."

The dinghy was escorted by a yacht with a Guinness records observer team on board. A spokesman on board said: "They deserve a lot of credit for persevering in a small boat for all this time and distance.’"

World Record

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 sailing a route for 320 nm (368 mi) which started on Tuesday and involved a night-time crossing of the Channel to France in an unmodified basic 14-foot Bosun Class dinghy.

To find out whether they have achieved a new World Record, the duo face an agonising wait until their GPS and other tracking equipment can be verified by official sources.

Crossing doubts

Asked about any doubts in completing the challenge, Mark said: "At one stage we were definitely panicking – no wind and 45 miles from Portsmouth... I was worried we would just drift. We had to put everything up to catch the wind."

He added: "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."

Pictured (left to right): Mark Belamarich (Ministry of Defence) and Leading Seaman Phil Slade (Royal Navy).

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