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  1. ITV Report

Blind ex-marine Steve Sparkes battling a bad back, loss of oars and the threat of hurricanes in bid for Pacific history

A former Royal Marine is set to become the first blind person to row across the Pacific as he nears the end of his epic journey from California to Hawaii.

Steve Sparkes has spent more than half his life without most of his sight after a diving accident starved his brain of oxygen at 24.

It means the 57 year old can't prepare for the constant barrage of freezing cold waves that batter him and partner Mick Dawson, also a former Marine, as they make the treacherous 2,400 voyage.

"It's horrendous, I'm like on a bucking bronco I just wait for it to hit me and I have to adjust accordingly", he told ITV News.

The pair are sailing in a specialised ocean rowing kayak. Credit: Great Pacific Race

But there are pleasant aspects to the journey with Mick - who is one of the world's most experienced ocean rowers - giving "good descriptions of the surroundings and the environment", which have included dolphin and whale encounters.

Despite this, Steve jokes: "Mentally it does pull on all your chords, you're just staring at a big white sky normally and a blue sea and your mate, but I'm getting bored of him now."

Four other teams from around the globe set off on the Great Pacific Race but two have since dropped out while two have already finished.

Due to Steve's visual impairment, team Cockershell Pacific Endeavour may appear at a disadvantage.

But the veterans say their time in the forces is helping them.

Steve's partner Mick is one of the world's most experienced ocean rowers. Credit: Great Pacific Race

"We're both former Royal Marines, its in the nature of the beast, (it's) survival at the end of the day," Steve said.

"You try to find the easiest and best way through the situation that you're in, there's always a way out, (it's) just a case of finding it."

Despite that experience, almost three months exposed to the sea elements has taken its toll.

"I'm battered and bruised all over, on one occasion we nearly went over, we lost two oars, got smashed, slight damage to the boat, it's been on-going and there's always an incident," Steve said.

Since injuring his knee, he has had to rely on Mick to put in the extra work - something he's not entirely unhappy about.

Their tiny rowing boat is constantly battered by waves. Credit: Great Pacific Race

"I've damaged my knee so far and I've got a bad back so Mick has been doubling up on shifts and doing extra work, which makes me feel good but also a bit guilty," he said.

The pair are expected to arrive in Hawaii on Sunday but after listening to the weather forecast they'll be hoping they can get there a bit sooner.

"We're not the only ones playing on the Pacific, we've got the small matter of a hurricane called Lane and she's decided she wants to go to Hawaii as well," Steve joked.