Four university friends have completed their epic 3,100km row from California to Hawaii as part of The Great Pacific Race for NOMAN, breaking a world record* in the process as the youngest crew to ever cross the distance and achieve this incredible feat.
Jack Carter, from Blackheath, Nick Kempster, from Bath, Chris Blacketer, from Ewell and Mark Gleeson from Orpington have individually rowed more than 1,500km across the Pacific Ocean since setting off from Monterey on 9th June, and reached their final destination of Honolulu after over 50 days at sea.
The foursome met while studying at the University of Exeter and have spent a year preparing and almost two months living aboard their 24 foot ocean rowing boat, Isabel, crossing the great expanse of the Pacific Ocean using no motor or sails, just sheer physical and mental determination. The boys took turns to man the oars with pairs rowing in 2 hour shifts over the course of 50 days.
The 24-year-olds, known as Team NOMAN, set out to raise awareness of HPV and funds for the HPV and Anal Cancer Foundation by competing as a classic four. They have so far attracted over £40,000 via the charity’s NOMAN Campaign (www.nomancampaign.org) arm, which challenges participants to complete extreme endurance events to raise awareness of HPV, the carcinogenic virus which causes 5% of cancer worldwide and infects one third of the UK population.
Despite emerging unscathed from the shark-infested waters of the Eastern Pacific – and even encountering dolphins one pleasant evening – the boys endured howling winds, whose noise was such that it prevented all conversation, as well as nights so dark they couldn’t see the 20 foot waves or prepare for their impact as they rowed on.
Chris Blacketer said of their journey, “each day our hands got a little more blistered and our stomachs decreased in size, which was definitely a good thing looking at some of the pre departure photos. But the worst aspect by far was the pain in our backsides. Spending pretty much 24 hours a day either sitting or lying on them, meant we were all on a constant stream of painkillers just to get through the days and be able to sit down as we were just so blistered and raw.”
They had originally hoped to complete the challenge within 40 days, but were affected by bad weather and un-favourable winds which pushed them south rather than west, and saw Great Pacific Race entrants struggling to break away from the Californian coast.
Mark Gleeson said: “after spending nearly 8 weeks in a world less than 24ft in length, Hawaii seems impossibly large. We’re in a lot of pain, and have been for a few weeks now. We are barely able to sit, let alone stand, but everyone is so proud of one another.”
Nick Kempster added: “this challenge has been immense and at times it felt like we might not be able to complete it, but everyone’s support and messages (ranging from the outright funny, to those who merely thought they were funny) as well as our ultimate aim of raising awareness of HPV, have kept us going even when we didn’t think we could give anymore. Somehow we always found the strength to keep rowing.”
“We’ve put ourselves through this for a worthy cause, and if we can make a difference in the pain in our backsides will be worth it!”
Justine Almada, co-founder of The HPV and Anal Cancer Foundation, reinforced the importance of this by stating: “the goal is to see universal vaccination for girls and boys so that we can eliminate 5% of cancer. Such a target might seem massive, but it is eminently obtainable. Just as the team’s incredible voyage has proved.”
To find out more about the NOMAN Campaign visit www.nomancampaign.org