For immediate release at 10.00hrs on 19th January 2017
Rebecca@uniqueprandmarketing.co.uk / 07971 939644
On June 2nd this year former Royal Marine and Falklands veteran Steve Sparkes will take on the challenge of a lifetime as he attempts to become the first blind person ever to row the Pacific ocean as he competes in The Great Pacific Race.
Steve, aged 57 from South Devon, will be partnered with experienced ocean rower and fellow former Royal Marine and Falklands veteran, Mick Dawson on this epic 2,400 mile adventure which will see them row from Monterey, California, to Honolulu in Hawaii, competing against other teams from around the world.
While the direct route is 2,400 miles, weather conditions and changing currents could see the duo row closer to 3,000 miles and take them between 50 and 90 days to complete. Throughout the challenge Steve and Mick will take it in turns to row the boat in a pattern of two hours rowing, two hours resting.
Before the pair can complete this amazing challenge, they need to raise money to cover their race entry fee, travel to California, training and equipment. They are calling on any businesses or individuals who would like to sponsor the team to get in touch or visit their website – www.cockleshell-pacific.com, or visit their Crowdfunding page www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/cockleshell-pacific
This row will be completely unaided so the pair will need to carry their food, supplies and equipment for turning seawater into fresh drinking water with them on their 21.5ft long, carbon fibre ocean rowing boat, nicknamed “Bojangles”. Bojangles has already crossed the Pacific once as it was the boat used by Mick Dawson when he entered the record books in 2009, alongside Chris Martin, as they became the first people to complete a 7,000 mile row across the North Pacific from Japan to San Francisco. They remain the only people to have ever successfully rowed this route.
Steve’s blindness is due to a rare form of macular degeneration known as Stargatz. It was caused when, in 1984 while taking part in a selection for the Royal Marines Special Boat Service, he had a diving accident that would ultimately cause the loss of his eyesight. Steve has lost his sight completely apart from some peripheral vision of shapes and colours.
He was Medically discharged from the Royal Marines at a time when there was little in the way of support in place for injured veterans. Ten years after his discharge ‘Blind Veterans UK’ then known as St Dunstans tracked down Steve who was by then living in Malta. They flew him back to the UK and provided the first training and support to help Steve deal with his condition. Steve has worked consistently with and for Blind Veterans UK in the years since helping other veterans come to terms with their loss of sight.
It is because of this support that Steve and Mick are competing in the Great Pacific Race to raise money for Blind Veterans UK, and also The Royal Marines Charity, a charity which supports former and current Royal Marines and their families.
On his bid to be the first blind person to row the Pacific, Steve Sparkes says:
“I am incredibly pleased to officially announce our entry in the Great Pacific Race 2018, and I’m excited to be the first blind person to ever take on this epic adventure. I am determined to show that disability of any sort doesn’t need to hold you back, and I am confident that with my determination and Mick’s vast experience of ocean rowing will result in a very successful crossing of the Pacific.”
Steve’s team mate, experienced ocean rower Mick Dawson says:
“I am really excited to be competing in the Great Pacific Race alongside Steve and helping achieve a global first; becoming the first blind person to row the Pacific. It’s good to be reunited with “Bo” too, the boat that I used to first row the Pacific in 2009. I have no doubt that we will overcome all the challenges that lay ahead and will achieve our aim of rowing unaided across the Pacific.”
Notes to editors
For Steve and Mick’s biogs, please visit www.cockleshell-pacific.com/meet-the-team