Two young British men have been recognised by Guinness World Records as the youngest pair to row an ocean following an intrepid journey across the Atlantic.
Luke Birch, of Doddington, near Lincoln, and Jamie Sparks, from Islington, north London, took part in a 3,000-mile Atlantic challenge race, setting off from the Canary Islands on 3 December and arrived in Antigua on Monday - after 54 days of rowing.
The two university students, who were taking part in the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge, beat a record held since 2009 by fellow countrymen Tom Heal and Will Smith, who were both a few months older.
Jamie and Luke, aged 21 years 327 days and 21 years 153 days respectively when the journey started, undertook the challenge to raise money for their chosen charity Breast Cancer Care and have so far raised more than £309,000 - well above their original £150,000 target.
The Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge is widely regarded as the world's toughest rowing race.
The two friends completed it in 54 days, five hours, 56 minutes and 26 seconds - finishing fifth overall and second in the pairs.
They were one of 17 teams to start the challenge, which among its rules forbids any outside support, with no extra supplies such as food and water given to teams.
Speaking at the time of reaching the finishing line, Jamie said: "It's the most remarkable thing I have ever done, I don't believe I'm really here yet,"
"There were huge amount of bad times... I've had four hours sleep in the last 24 hours, but we will only remember the good things.
"It was the most incredible experience and I'll never get the opportunity to do anything like this again."
Mr Sparks added that he could not have completed the challenge without Mr Birch.
"Luke's very tough, very gutsy and very stubborn which is what you've got to be when you're on a boat in the high seas.
"We had this goal and we would do anything to achieve it."
To recognise the pair’s achievements for the charity, Breast Cancer Care yesterday held a special event in London celebrating their record-breaking achievement, which included a presentation of their official Guinness World Records certificate by GWR Editor-in-Chief, Craig Glenday.
Breast Cancer Care Chief Executive, Samia al Qadhi said: “Everyone at the charity is celebrating Luke and Jamie’s tremendous achievement. In our 40 year history, this is the largest sum we have ever received from an individual fundraising challenge. Breast Cancer Care is the only UK-wide specialist support charity, and the money Jamie and Luke have raised will greatly increase the support we can provide in the future. Thanks to them we can help more women live with, through and beyond breast cancer.”
Speaking after the event, Mr Glenday said: “Luke and Jamie’s voyage is truly remarkable, and a real test of physical endurance and mental prowess. We're delighted to award them their Guinness World Records certificates for the Youngest pair to row any ocean. Speaking to both Luke and Jamie at their homecoming event, I anticipate that our relationship with them is only in its infancy and I'm looking forward to hearing about their next big adventure.”
* To find out more about Breast Cancer Care and to make a donation to Luke and Jamie’s chosen charity, head to: http://www.justgiving.com/2boysinaboat