IT MAY not have seemed like it at the time but it could turn out to be a lucky omen.

One of the Hampshire brothers attempting to sail 3,000 miles from Gran Canaria to Barbados has been hit in the face by a flying fish.

Jude Massey was taking his turn to row the 20ft boat when the creature soared into the air and struck him on the cheek.

Flying fish can make powerful leaps out of the water, their long wing-like fins giving them the ability to glide over the surface and evade predators.

Jude, 18, was startled but is not thought to have been seriously hurt.

An expedition spokesman said: "Barbados is known as 'the land of the flying fish' - the fish is one of their national symbols. Let's hope this is a good omen - with every stroke they row closer to Barbados."

Jude and his half-brother, Greg Bailey, 26, need all the luck they can get.

The Lymington-based duo, who call themselves The Ocean Brothers, have already experienced a raft of problems including a dramatic capsize and a spate of equipment problems.

Their automatic GPS system has failed, which means each brother taking his turn to propel the boat must row with one hand and steer with the other.

As reported in the Daily Echo, the two men are attempting to raise £100,000 for the British Skin Foundation.

It follows the death of Hampshire businessman Peter Massey - Jude's father and Greg's stepfather - who died in 2015 after battling skin cancer for 16 years.

The expedition spokesman said: "After an extensive call with Raymarine’s technical support team, it appears the brothers' GPS can’t be fixed.

"They are having to row with one hand while steering with the other, which is causing extreme back pain.

"But they are committed to staying focused with the battles faced by their late father, Pete, never far from their thoughts. Their gritted determination is driving them forward."

Several people have taken to social media to voice their admiration for the two men.

Carol Morgan said: "Dodge those flying fish and continue your flying boys. You're doing brilliant considering the problems."

Sally Brownrigg added: "You are absolutely beyond incredible."

Wendy Higgs posted: "You are very special people. The world would be a better place if there were more people like you."