Bad weather has delayed the start of an epic challenge that will see a blind former Royal Marine from the South Hams row across the Pacific - a journey of around 2,400 miles.

Steve Sparkes, 56, who was born and grew up in the South Hams, aims to become the first severely visually impaired man to row the Pacific. He is setting off with team mate Mick Dawson, also a former Marine and experienced ocean rower, to row from Monterey in California to Hawaii.

They will compete against other teams from around the world in The Great Pacific Race. The pair expect to be at sea between 50 and 90 days in a 6ft x 21.5ft a carbon fibre ocean rowing boat.

The race was due to start on Saturday, June 2 but it was postponed by organisers until Wednesday, June 6 at 6pm local time (Thursday at 2am BST) due to bad weather off the coast of Monterey. The pair have used the delay to carry out further checks on their boat, Bojangles, including deliberately rolling it to ensure it can self-right if it capsizes. The boat has passed with flying colours and now the pair are raring to go.

Steve is raising money for Blind Veterans UK and hopes to inspire other people facing challenging life circumstances.

He attended South Brent Primary School in the 1970s and played football for the village team. He went on to King Edward VI Community College in Totnes before joining the Royal Marines at the age of 18.

Steve fought in the Falklands War with 42 Commando Royal Marines as a member of K company. He served with distinction, carrying a colleague to safety who had stepped on a landmine at the base of Mount Harriet.

In 1984, he took part in the selection process for the Special Boat Service. It was then that his life took an unexpected turn. A problem with the rebreather set during the diving phase of the selection process damaged his eyesight and, ultimately, triggered a rare form of macular degeneration called Stargardt disease.

His sight slowly began to deteriorate and he was discharged from the Royal Marines on medical grounds. Over time, he lost virtually all of his sight, with only a small amount of peripheral vision remaining.

A chance encounter led to Steve becoming involved with the Armed Forces Charity, SSAFFA, which introduced him to Blind Veterans UK. This proved to be a turning point in his life. The charity offered him support and training to help him to deal with the loss of his eyesight.

Now Steve hopes to repay their kindness by rowing a route that no visually impaired person has ever rowed before to raise funds for the charity.

He met his team mate Mick Dawson at one of the pubs in South Brent. Mick, a former Plymouth-based Royal Marine and fellow Falklands veteran, is an experienced ocean rower. He has rowed across the Atlantic twice and is in the Guinness Book of Records as the first and only rower to cross the North Pacific from Japan to San Francisco. The pair have some shared history as Steve served in the same troop as Mick’s brother, Steve Dawson.

The route they will take from Monterey in California to Hawaii is 2,400 miles however with weather conditions and changing currents, they could find themselves rowing closer to 3,000 miles.

Steve and Mick will take it in turns to row the boat, two hours on, two hours off with rests in between. They have spent months training for just about every eventuality, including being swept overboard, the boat capsizing, being hit by a freak bow wave or being hit by another vessel.

Steve and Mick will row unaided so will need to carry all of their food, supplies and equipment for turning seawater into fresh drinking water. Steve said: “This is a great chance to repay the people who have helped and supported me and to show that you can overcome even the toughest challenges.”

To sponsor Steve and Mick, visit their crowdfunding page