Two intrepid Plymouth-based Royal Navy sailors, Leading Hand Phil Slade and MOD worker Mark Belamarich came alongside in Holyhead Harbour last weekend bringing to an end their latest gruelling world record breaking attempt to sail the furthest in a double-handed dinghy.


The pair are confident they have broken their own world record set last year (309.25 nautical miles) sailed in their 14ft Royal Navy Bosun Dinghy by recording a fantastic distance of 331.5 nautical miles, an increase of 22.25 nautical miles, through unpredictable and difficult conditions from their base at Royal Marines Stonehouse in Plymouth.


Phil, an experienced sailing instructor, and Mark, an MOD sea survival trainer, have been raising for two charities close to their hearts, the Royal Navy and Royal Marines Charity and Bowel Cancer UK. They have so far raised £3,500 towards the charity’s work supporting Royal Navy and Royal Marines personnel and their families and vital research into bowel cancer.


Phil said: “We are both very pleased to have broken our own world record and made it that bit more difficult for it to be broken by anyone else. We aimed to raise awareness of adventure dinghy sailing and benefit our chosen charities.’’


He added: “This was a brilliant experience and was everything an adventurous activity should be. This showed the military ethos and our teamwork at its best. We were pushed to the limit physically and mentally by the conditions. We survived everything the sea could throw at us – from flat calm and inevitable boredom when we were either going nowhere or backwards, to hairy gusting gales making the boat exhausting to keep upright and going in the right direction. The waves often swamped us and whitebait were thrown into the bottom of the Bosun. During the calmer conditions dolphins followed us and a sparrow hitched a lift.’’


Mark said: “We will never forget this experience. We’ve had the adventure of a lifetime. It was tough, there’s no denying it. But it makes it all the more worthwhile being hard and at the same time boosting funds for the charities, especially Bowel Cancer UK which have a vital role in helping people like me. Look what I’ve achieved as a bowel cancer survivor!’’


Tim Corke, Regional Fundraiser for the Royal Navy and Royal Marines Charity, said, “What Phil and Mark have achieved is incredible. Sailing such a huge distance in a two man open dinghy over 5 days at the mercy of the weather really shows their dedication, skill and moral fibre. We cannot thank them enough for undertaking this fundraising challenge. The money that they have raised will be put to good use funding projects to support sailors, marines and their families for life and also research into bowel cancer to save lives ”


Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, the first person to sail single-handed and non-stop around the world commented, “My congratulations and best wishes to Phil and Mark for taking on and completing this difficult challenge. The unstable weather and tidal conditions on this coastline make sailing taxing at the best of times but in such a small boat what they have accomplished is nothing short of remarkable”.


To show your support and make a donation visit http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/bosunchallenge500. All donations will be split between the Royal Navy and Royal Marines Charity and Bowel Cancer UK.


For more information about the challenge visit: www.facebook.com/bosunchallenge500.