Sparky rows his way into the record books

31 August 2018 16:00

We're proud to announce that our amazing blind veteran Steve ‘Sparky’ has made it to the finish line of Great Pacific Race along with his inspirational skipper Mick. This puts Sparky in the record books as the first blind person to have rowed the Pacific!

Steve and Mick taking part in the Great Pacific Race
Spark and Mick in high spirits ahead of the Great Pacific Race.

Sparky and Mick rowed 2,500 nautical miles beginning their journey in Monterey, California. The pair arrived in Waikiki, Hawaii earlier this week having rowed in gruelling two-hourly shifts day and night for 82 days. Just three boats have made it to the finish line, and theirs is the only one manned by two people.

"I’m excited to be the first blind person to ever take on this epic adventure and I'm determined to show that disability of any sort doesn’t need to hold you back."

A diving accident whilst participating in a selection trial for the Special Boat Service when he was in the Royal Marines caused Sparky’s sight loss. He has a rare form of macular degeneration, called Stargardts, and lives with only slight peripheral vision in the form of shapes and colours.

Steve and Mick rowing
Sparky and Mick rowing their way into the record books.

Sparky’s partner in the challenge Mick, also ex-Marines, is an experienced rower, having rowed across the Atlantic Ocean twice and entered the Guinness book of records as the skipper of the first and only rowing boat to cross the North Pacific, from Japan to San Francisco.

Sparky and Mick took on the Great Pacific Race with the goal of raising £10,000 for The Royal Marines Charity and Blind Veterans UK. We've provided Sparky with support since 1994, ten years after he initially became blind and was medically discharged from service. Their fundraising total now nearly exceeds £11,000.

On his arrival in Hawaii Steve talked to his supporters via Facebook Live, saying: “I knew it was going to be rough but the first two weeks really showed me what the Pacific can throw at you. Every day was a fight against the wet and the cold. Nevertheless it’s been an amazing experience, I’m glad we’ve done it.”

"When you’re partially sighted your morale can really drop, but coming out and doing something like this, it makes you think, ‘what can’t I do?"

To be part of this epic task, dubbed the ‘World’s Toughest Rowing Race’, and show support for Sparky and Mick, people are invited to donate via: