THEIR aim is to row 4,000 miles across the Indian Ocean, but James Ketchell and Ashley Wilson made just 70 miles before having to turn around and be towed back to shore.

But the setback is not enough to deter the pair from completing their epic challenge, and they are now looking to head off for the second time next next week.

James, from Basingstoke, and epileptic cancer survivor Ashley, from Wickham, were 24 hours into their mission when they realised the guidance system on board the James Lewis was not working correctly.

It had been causing issues on board the boat and had started to slow them down.

Posting on his blog from Australia, James, 32, said: “We spent several hours at sea trying to resolve the issue but were unsuccessful. We could have carried on but as we are trying to break a record it’s important everything is working as it should.

“As we were only 70 nautical miles from Geraldton we decided to take a tow back, to resolve the issue. Fortunately a fishing charter boat was in the area at the time and offered to tow us.”

Their boat was damaged on the way back because of rough winds gusting to 40 knots. It is now being worked on for the re-launch next week.

James said: “Obviously this is quite frustrating as we were making fantastic progress, but coming back to resolve the issue was the right thing to do.”

Since returning, the pair have spent their time engaging in community events.

However, 36-year-old Ashley had a seizure just before they were about to speak at an awards ceremony.

James, a Scout Ambassador who has rowed the Atlantic, climbed Everest and cycled around the world, said: “It did, however, highlight the effects of living with epilepsy and everyone at the club was in awe of his endeavour to row across the Indian Ocean.”

The pair are raising funds and awareness for The Scout Association, Young Epilepsy and the Elifar Foundation.

James said: “Despite our minor setback we both remain committed to our goal of raising awareness and funds for our charities." and recognise we would not be here without all the continued help from our sponsors, and for that Ash and I are extremely grateful.

He added: “We are looking at a new departure date of around 7th-8th of June, so fingers crossed the weather is good to us and lets us leave.”

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