Rowers Break World Record
Captains Hamish Reid and Nick Dennison, of the Royal Army Medical Corps, set off in mid-May, aiming to become the first pair to row non-stop and unsupported around the British mainland.
The pair crossed the finish line on the Solent near the entrance to Lymington Yacht Haven, Hampshire, at about 3pm after 50 days and five hours at sea in aid of service charities.
The pair were greeted with a flypast by a Royal Naval lynx helicopter, a RNLI lifeboat and a flotilla of small boats.
Capt Dennison said: "It's absolutely wonderful to be back and to have the navy turn up with a helicopter and the RNLI with a lifeboat is very special. My legs are a bit wobbly now but it's great to be back on terra firma.''
The 28-year-old said that the pair had feared at points during the journey that they would not be able to complete the challenge. He said:
"There were a few low points especially off south-east Ireland as the wind blew us from the north for several days and we were concerned we wouldn't have enough time and food to finish. It's such a fantastic sense of achievement to have finished, it's something that hasn't been done before and people with experience told us it probably couldn't be done.''
Capt Reid, also 28, said that the pair had worked as a team to help encourage each other during the difficult moments.
"We knew each other well before we left having spent two or three years preparing for this trip. We were able to recognise when each other needed some space or needed help taking their mind off it or when we were running out of energy or sleep - we
were able to look out for each other.''
Capt Reid left his fiancee, Jessica Lindsay, on shore for the 50-day challenge.
"I just feel elated to be back. I am absolutely delighted to see Jess, she came out to see us when we were off Scotland but it's just great to be back on land and have a hug,'' he said.
The men set off on the challenge on May 12 in their 24ft (7.3m) ocean-going rowing boat, Komale, and battled high seas, fierce winds and strong tides on the journey of more than 2,100 miles (3,380km).
The record attempt was dominated by tide cycles, with the two officers alternating between rowing two hours on and two hours off in open seas and resting together at anchor during the foul tide in inshore waters. They rowed up to 20 hours a day, with their sleep patterns dependent on weather conditions.
Capt Dennison, who was brought up in Bristol, is currently based in Bovington Camp, Dorset, home of the Royal Armoured Corps. Capt Reid, who was born on the Isle of Wight, is currently the Regimental Medical Officer of 22 Royal Engineer Regiment in Tidworth, Wiltshire.
It is estimated they each expended 8,000 calories per day on the gruelling trip and during the row they undertook scientific research into the calorific demands. This will provide new insight into the nutritional demands of prolonged exertion and physical degradation - an increasingly important component of current operations in Afghanistan.
In setting the world record, the pair aim to raise £20,000 for both the ABF (the soldiers' charity) and Help for Heroes.