The Turn to Starboard Round Britain Challenge crew endured rough weather and broken gear during their eight week voyage

A crew of 17 military veterans has arrived back in Falmouth after a gruelling eight-week round-Britain sailing expedition.

Since starting the Turn to Starboard Round Britain Challenge on 5 August, the former servicemen have had to cope with sailing in heavy weather conditions, ripped sails and broken steering gear.

They complete their circumnavigation on board the 92-foot tall ship, Spirit of Falmouth, and crossed the finish line off Pendennis Point on Sunday (1 October) much to the delight of family, friends and supporters who had gathered to welcome them home.

Expedition leader and former Royal Marine, Dan Fielding, said it was an extremely tough voyage.

“Not only has the crew faced their own challenges after service life, they have faced incredible challenges throughout this journey,” he said. “From appalling weather conditions to damaged sails and broken steering gear, the team has shown resilience in every situation.”

“The team should all be justly proud of themselves, whether completing shorter sections or circumnavigating the entire British Isles. It was an extremely tough expedition and the crew sailed particularly hard, which has resulted in turning the group of novices who set out 8 weeks ago into highly skilled individuals,” added Fielding, who also used the opportunity to propose to his girlfriend, Nicola Sherwood.

The 35-year-old had arranged for letters to be taped on crew members’ backs asking the all important question before he dropped to his knees. He proposal was accepted, much to the delight of the spectators.

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During the Turn to Starboard challenge, the crew visited 15 ports around the coast of Britain.

Chris Greenwood, a 54-year-old former soldier from St Day near Redruth in Cornwall, said: “The toughest part was the force 10 gales around the Isle of Man and up in Scotland. They ripped the sails so hard we had to stop for a couple of days to get them repaired.”

The voyage was organised by the Falmouth-based challenge, Turn to Starboard, which helps military personnel suffering with physical injuries or mental trauma by providing sailing courses.

The aim of the sailing expedition was to help participants re-engage, reintegrate and gain new skills to help start new careers. It is the second time it has taken place.

The challenge is supported by The Endeavour Fund, fuelled by The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry’s passion for supporting the recovery of wounded, injured and sick servicemen and women.

The fund’s programme manager, Stuart Croxford, commented: “What an incredible journey the crew has been on. The challenges they have faced have not only been physical – battling huge waves and difficult weather conditions – but also psychological but I know they will have all worked as a team to support each other.”

“I hope this epic challenge will have inspired many more wounded, injured and sick servicemen and women to rediscover their fighting spirit and self-belief. I’d like to thank Turn to Starboard for their support and congratulate all crew members on their incredible achievements,” added Croxford.