A group of us have been looking to up the stakes on challenges for quite a while now, we were galvinished into action when we wanted to raise money for MacMillan Caring locally, a charity close to me after they had done such a great job of caring for my Dad.
The Channel has been crossed, rivers have been paddled from source to sea - so it's tricky knowing what to aim for.
In the end we thought a channel crossing of massive proportion was the way forward, so we would attempt to paddle from Aldereny back to Poole (120km) across the channel in one go.
Knowing that this challenge would be very dependant on the weather, I decided to sort out some other challenges to help support it.
Paddle Round the Pier is a massive event in Brighton which now includes an SUP race. 80 Nautical Miles away from my home in Poole, why not paddle there. Myself and my friend Jo pumped up our boards on the Wednesday before we were set to race and knowing we had a deadline to race day got on with the paddle. Day one we were cooking on gas with only a light headwind we churned out 52km all the way to Lee on Solent before we broke for the night. Carrying everything we needed with us we made good progress and got to paddle through the Solent with few issues.
Day 2 we set out from Lee om Solent again and after sneaking past spinnaker tower, the worst happened. The 20 knots of west south west wind we were hoping for turned into a direct southerly. Picking up to 20knots as we hit Hayling island this reduced our speed down from 7-8kmph to 2, with all the paddling on one side.
Pretty much pinned to the beach and marooned on Hayling we took a long break, hoping for the wind to drop. In lighter winds we licked our wounds and limped the rest of the way to Selsey Bill before breaking for the night in the dark. We'd covered less distance, taken longer to do it and only had a day left to reach the start line of our race which was now another 52km away.
Day 3 was the home straight but also a slog along a piece of coast that offered little variation or shelter. With the aim to try and keep the wind behind us we would have to run a wide angle on our paddle. We had to avoid hugging the coast as we set off from Selsey, also due to our fears obout the wind we set off early before the tide would be with us making the first 10km very slow going. We were met by our Friend John Siggs who lifted the mood and helped us push to Worthing from where we could finally see the finish and Brighton Pier.
It was now time for race day, and we had just paddled 80 Nautical Miles over three days mostly on one side - not the best preparartion for a race.
However our weather window had been lucky as Race day was forecasting 30knts onshore and big waves!.
The orginal format of the race was a team pursuit race, teams of three would paddle in formation over 14km. With big waves and high winds hitting the shore the format was changed to a short in and out relay from the beach. Jo was unable to race so joined by my friend Jamie, we subbed in local paddler Ken Harmer to make up our team.
I took the lead leg in conditions that I love paddling in, managing to give us a good lead which Jamie increased further. Ken set off on the anchor leg in the wildest conditions of the day and after some confusion over where they had moved the course to, managed to keep us on the podium against a great field of paddlers.
So challenge oen was done, we'd paddled a long way, raised some money and even got on a podium.
Time for Challenge Two which this time would take us somewhere a littel warmer, Part 2 to follow...
Throughout the entire challenge I wore my Horizon shorts these were perfect through a big range in temperatures and also avoided and chafing. On Race day I added the Kaituna top when many others had to opt for full wetsuits.