Ewell man rows into the record books

Made it: Chris Blacketer, the bearded wonder

Made it: Chris Blacketer, the bearded wonder

First published in News by

A student from Ewell has rowed himself into the record books after being part of the youngest ever team to row from California to Hawaii.

Chris Blacketer and three Exeter University friends set off from Monterey on June 9 as part of the Great Pacific Boat Race.

In reaching Honolulu after 50 days at sea, they became the youngest crew ever to cover the epic 3,100km distance using no motor or sails.

The 24-year-olds endured deafening winds, 20-foot waves and nightly blackouts as they rowed through shark-infested waters, as well as hoards of flying fish flooding the boat and jamming equipment.

But Chris said these were not the hardest things to put up with.

“Each day our hands got a little more blistered and our stomachs decreased in size, but the worst aspect by far was the pain in our backsides,” he said.

“Spending pretty much 24 hours a day sitting or lying on them meant we were all on a constant stream of painkillers.

“We needed them just to get through the days and be able to sit down, as we were so blistered and raw.”

The boys met studying at Exeter University and spent a year preparing for their incredible voyage.

They took turns to man the oars aboard their 24-foot boat, Isabel, with pairs rowing in two-hour shifts for the duration of the trip.

Known as Team Noman, they set out to raise funds for the HPV and Anal Cancer Foundation, and have so far attracted more than £40,000.

The Noman campaign’s extreme endurance events raise awareness of HPV, the carcinogenic virus, which infects one-third of the UK population.

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