Jack Carter, Nick Kempster, Chris Blacketer and Mark Gleeson celebrated the completion of their journey in style. Photograph courtesy of Ellen Hoke.

Record breaking row by Exeter team

They endured 30ft waves, travelled through shark-infested waters and suffered blistered hands and bottoms - but four Exeter friends have broken a world-record for an epic charity row.

Jack Carter, Nick Kempster, Chris Blacketer and Mark Gleeson completed the epic 3,100km trip from California to Hawaii as part of The Great Pacific Race, breaking a world record* as the youngest crew to ever cross the distance.

The foursome met while they were at the University of Exeter and spent the last year preparing for the challenge across the Pacific Ocean. They set off from Monterey on June 9 and over 50 days later on July 30, reached Honolulu.

“After spending nearly 8 weeks in a world less than 24ft in length, Hawaii seems impossibly large,” said Mark. “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.”

The team lived on board their 24 foot boat Isabel, crossing the ocean without motor or sails. They took it in turns to row, with pairs working together in two hour shifts.

“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,” said Chris. “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.”

The team had hoped to complete the challenge within 40 days, but were hampered by bad weather and unfavourable winds.

Throughout they were buoyed by messages from supporters. They were also raising awareness of HPV (a carcinogenic virus which causes 5% of cancer worldwide) and funds for the HPV and Anal Cancer Foundation.

“This challenge has been immense and at times it felt like we might not be able to complete it. Somehow we always found the strength to keep rowing,” said Nick.

“This sort of event is as much a mental challenge as it is a physical one and we’d like to send our congratulations to the team,” commented Nick Beasant, Acting Director of Sport at the University. “It’s brilliant to see friendships which were formed at Exeter leading to such an incredible achievement.”

*The record is now being validated and approved by the Guinness Book of Records.

Date: 31 July 2014