Sailors from Thornbury break World Record by 40 days

Gazette Series: Jeremy Warren and Phil Kirk on board their Wayfarer dinghy Hafren Jeremy Warren and Phil Kirk on board their Wayfarer dinghy Hafren

A PAIR of sailing enthusiasts have broken the world record for circumnavigating the UK in a dinghy by more than 40 days.

Jeremy Warren and Phil Kirk, both members of Thornbury Sailing Club, launched their Wayfarer boat named Hafren out of Weymouth on May 31 with plans to beat the previous record of 78 days for the 1,500-mile trip by completing the voyage in 60 days.

But just 32 days and two hours later, the duo, who have decades of sailing experience between them, sailed back into Weymouth harbour having been helped by gratuitous weather conditions and head winds.

“We were very fortuitous with the weather,” said Mr Warren, a 56-year-old technology entrepreneur from Marshfield. “When we first started out we didn’t know if we could make it – 76 days looked like an amazing achievement and 60 days was ambitious.

“But there were three things that helped us go faster; the incredible weather, our preparation of the boat was as good as it could be and we kept going through the night.”

Mr Warren and 40-year-old naval architect Mr Kirk, from Kingswood near Wotton-under-Edge, drank two-and-a-half litres of water a day and ate well on their arduous journey travelling clockwise up the Irish Sea, west of the Isle of Man, dropping into Northern Ireland before moving around Scotland and back down the east coast.

“We had a cooker on board and we actually ate really well,” added Mr Warren. “We could heat up ready meals and cook porridge, basically we got round the UK on chicken tikka masala.

“We were also overwhelmed by the kindness of strangers. We were at sea for 32 nights but we only slept on the boat for half of those, camping the rest of the time, stopping at lifeboat stations where we were welcomed at midnight with a roof, which was a novelty, and a fridge of cold beer, and one night in a hotel which was beyond comparison.

“We were both chronically tired but we got used to taking turns to sleep on the floor of the boat.”

The most difficult parts of the journey were at Land’s End when there was no sight of land and Rattray Head in the North Sea where two seas converge. Mr Warren also suffered severe muscle ache after an unexpected stretch of paddling and was unsure if the challenge could continue.

“There were some times when it was very lonely and night time was scary,” he said. “But being in the open water also gives you a sense of humility, it was very sobering and quite spiritual.”

The pair, who have so far raised more than £4,500 of a £20,000 target for the RNLI and locally-based charity the Pappa Fund which provides healthcare and education in southern India, said they wanted to challenge people to break their new record.

“If you didn’t stop at night you could do this in less than 20 days,” said Mr Warren, who will be back in the dinghy at next weekend’s Thornbury Regatta. “People have lost their sense of adventure and are controlled by their mobile phone and Microsoft email. We want to encourage more people to get out sailing.”

Visit www.justgiving.com/HafrenSailing to make a donation.

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