Elite Watermen Complete Celtic Crossing
It was billed as an epic challenge. A race from the Isles of Scilly to Sennen in Cornwall using only paddle power. And the event lived up to the hype as eight wold class athletes completed the 50km paddle in May.
The watermen and women, made up of world champion surf lifesavers, surfers and stand-up paddle boarders, paddled against the clock across the notoriously treacherous stretch of water feared for strong tides, challenging currents and busy shipping lanes.
With the support of rescue boats the eight-strong crew of athletes undertook the physical and mental challenge of Europe’s longest open ocean paddle race. All members had to battle against the elements and their own inner demons to complete the challenge.
First home into Sennen were tandem Ocean Ski pair Lewis Kirton and Vincent Naert in 3hrs 54mins; followed ten minutes later by single Ocean Ski legend Glenn Eldridge. Female ski duo Tarryn Brown and Chole Bunnett crossed the finish line in 4hrs 20mins.
It was a further 2hrs of hard slog before stand-up-paddle boarder Mark Slater and prone paddleboarder Tom Butler made it back to safe harbour at dusk.
For the world-class athletes who have competed at the very top level in their respective sports, the event rated as one of the most challenging of their careers.
Glenn Eldridge explained what motivated him to undertake the crossing: “At the heart of this event is my desire, passion and drive to experience the ocean, to pit whatever I have against an immense force of nature – not to tame it, but to harness its rhythm and tempo to help me move across its surface with humbled respect and above all speed. To perhaps one day reflect and say, ‘I was alright at that’.”
Pro surfer Tom Butler agreed that this was one of the toughest challenges of his life. He said: “I now understand the reason people do endurance event’s… and after it all it comes down to this: You will never be able to dream yourself into an ideal character, you must hammer and forge yourself into one… I had just finished a little more hammering!”
The Celtic Crossing was made possible thanks to donations and support from people and businesses on www.crowdfunder.co.uk, also raising money for local charities The Wave Project and Joe Way Paddle.