Blind Exmouth veteran Steve making ‘great progress’ rowing across Pacific to Hawaii

PUBLISHED: 12:00 21 June 2018 | UPDATED: 16:48 21 June 2018

Steve Sparkes, left, and Mick Dawson, taking part in the Great Pacific Race aboard their boat 'Bojangles'. Picture by Ellen Hoke.

Steve Sparkes, left, and Mick Dawson, taking part in the Great Pacific Race aboard their boat 'Bojangles'. Picture by Ellen Hoke.


Heavy winds, broken oars and a lack of teabags have not stopped one blind Exmouth veteran from rowing his way into the third week of the Great Pacific Race.

On June 2, Falklands War veteran Steve Sparkes set off to become the first blind person ever to row the Pacific with fellow veteran and experienced sea rower Mick Dawson.

But an update on their progress from Monterey to Hawaii has revealed just how testing the task in hand is.

On Friday, their official Facebook page reported ‘bit of drama’, after their boat – Bojangles – suffered ‘a big knock down’ causing two snapped two oars.

Heavy winds and strong currents meant they had to drop the anchor and sit tight for a few days.

Despite this a team spokesman says the pair are ‘feeling strong and confident’ and ‘beginning to make great progress’.

She added: “Their only complaint so far has been the number of tea bags they went through while they had to drop anchor and sit patiently while the weather conditions were so bad last week!”

The spokesman also addressed questions raised by a number of people regarding the current southward trajectory of the teams, by releasing an explanation from Chris Martin, of the Great Pacific Race.

He said: “Directly off the Californian coast, the dominant wind comes from the North West to North, North West, effectively pushing the crews back to the shore slightly south of wherever they are.

“It’s all they can do to head south across the angle of the wind. As they head south the wind strength can be expected to decrease and the as they get further south and west the wind starts to fill in behind them.

“By the time they get a couple of hundred miles on from where they are currently then the weather starts to come around behind them a bit more and by halfway it’s blowing them directly towards Hawaii.”

See’s interactive map for a visualisation of what Chris is saying.

Steve and Mick’s efforts so far have raised £4,006 towards their £10,000 fundraising target, to be split between Blind Veterans UK and the Royal Marines Charity.

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