Son of sailing hero completes his own ocean challenge

MADE IT James Blake, inset, on board Team Gallagher
MADE IT James Blake, inset, on board Team Gallagher
Pupils from Cliffdale Primary Academy

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THE son of one of the world’s greatest sailors has completed a record-breaking row across treacherous seas – following in his father’s footsteps.

James Blake, a Kiwi who grew up in Emsworth, is the son of yachtsman Sir Peter Blake who was murdered by pirates in the Amazon in Brazil, in 2001.

MADE IT James Blake

MADE IT James Blake

James, a student, was part of the four-strong group of New Zealanders called Team Gallagher who became the first crew to row unsupported from Sydney, Australia to Auckland, New Zealand, across the Tasman Sea.

The tough challenge, which saw the team row 2,000 miles, ended on Friday.

They were welcomed at Auckland Bridge and James’ mother, artist Lady Pippa Blake, flew in from her Emsworth home to greet him.

James, who celebrated his 25th birthday while out at sea, said: ‘It was very hard physically, but more than that it was hard mentally.

‘We thought we would do the trip in no more than 40 days, but it actually took us 55.

‘We had a lot of moments when we thought we weren’t going to make it, but then we would push through.

‘One of the highlights was seeing an albatross every day – it was pretty incredible.’

James, who is hoping to become a documentary maker, joined the team to record their journey.

He turned 25 on December 31, when the team were under a ‘sea anchor’ for nine days because of bad weather.

‘We got really bad weather so had to create a sea anchor that slowed us right down,’ he added.

‘We were in a huge storm so it was a very memorable birthday.’

James also said his late father, who is buried in Warblington Cemetery, inspired him to take part in the challenge.

He said: ‘My dad had a huge amount of influence on me.

‘As a family in Emsworth and New Zealand, going on adventures was a big part of growing up.

‘While we were out it was the 10th anniversary of his death.

‘We had a tiny bit of rum and I said a few words about him – it was quite fitting to be out at sea.’

Now back on dry land, James wants to make a short documentary about his journey.

He also said he’s planning further trips, but is keeping tight-lipped about plans.