On a Hiding to Nothing

Somehow people always expect records to be broken; in 2012, some it seemed assumed I would crack the UK in a long weekend, before returning home smiling, for tea and medals. But it doesn't work that way.

As Mick O’Meara says, for a record you need a Good Man, a Good Boat and Good Weather - but it’s the weather that decides.  I have a good boat, I can't do much about the weather.  The more we discussed the strategy, I realised that going again clockwise was not that appealing to me. The chances of beating the time set by Joe Leach in 2012 are low. To be honest the fire isn't really there anymore, I can't be arsed with flogging my guts out for 2 months to likely come back with little more to show for it all than a view of the same scenery and more stressful memories.  After all, I've done that before. Nah, sod that.

The more we discussed things the more going anti-clockwise appealed to me. The Boss (from now on known as The Team Manager – the one to be obeyed) wasn't convinced.  But I felt that it would be a real challenge. Ok, on paper it sounds like the same route, but on the water I expect things to be significantly different, the tide and weather will have different effects this time. It will also give me a chance to compare and contrast, to answer the questions that I have. I quite fancy the idea of seeing everything in reverse too, will I land in new places or will it be the same old, but from the other side? 

Can a fast time be set this way? Well on paper this direction is a little slower, but with good conditions pretty much anything is possible. Of course I will go for it given a chance; I’d be a fool not to. But in reality I figure 80 days is a good goal, what a good goal should be – realistic, achievable, but still quite a stretch. 80 days will be a good tool to get me out of bed on those less than appealing days. But whatever I do, whatever I say, I know in some eyes I can't win. Just do it for yourself, as the TM says.

 So that's the plan, 80 days anti-clockwise – crack on Fatboy...

The Experiment

In 1986, when paddling things got serious, I started keeping a daily training diary, I've kept it ever since. In later years though, I've seen it slowly transform into more of a long term paddling experiment, watching how the body and mind deal with those years of activity. I've been intrigued (sometimes slightly bemused) to view the trade of speed for experience, and fitness for wisdom, as I paddled from my teens towards my fifties. I like to learn from my paddling, I like to answer questions.

After the 2012 trip there was a hole, an emptiness. There was unfinished business I guess.  I also realised that the first trip didn't answer all the questions, there were still things to be learnt.  Going again, this time anti-clockwise, would be a great opportunity to answer some more.

Will it be faster or slower in the opposite direction? Will it be harder or easier? How will it differ technically? How will the effect of the tides, weather and geography compare?

This time is to be a supported trip. This gives the chance to compare the pros and cons of supported versus un-supported on a long term expedition. It also gives the luxury of taking and comparing different paddling kit, and especially the chance to compare the use of a heavy versus light boat on such a demanding trip. I want an answer to that one.

There are questions relating to different approaches and strategies for the trip as a whole and how the decision making process differs working as a team rather than solo. 

From a personal point of view, it will be interesting to see how I cope - three years older, softer...and fatter.

Granted the two trips aren't going to be a controlled trial, the answers won't be definitive. The sample size will be too small for that; Life isn't long enough – but this will be the best chance so far for answering some of those damn questions...