Round-Britain stand up paddleboarder braves Scotland’s west coast weather
A stand-up paddle boarder has described Scotland as “beautifully brutal” as he battles some of the toughest weather yet in a round-Britain world record attempt.
Jordan Wylie, a star of the hit TV show Hunted, has been at sea for more than 18 weeks and paddled almost 1350 miles to reach the Rubha Mor peninsula, north of Ullapool, Ross & Cromarty.
He left Essex on July 26 and paddled around the south coast of England, north past the west coast of Wales, along the eastern shoreline of Ireland and Northern Ireland and across the Irish Sea to Scotland.
But storms and high winds have slowed the 37-year-old ex-soldier’s progress.
Jordan said: “There have been some tough days and some very difficult conditions before but Scotland is consistently the most challenging place to paddle.
“The weather, which is forever changing and with seemingly no notice, makes it brutal.
“It is cold and it gets dark very early – and there are fewer and fewer oppportunities for longer paddling days this far north.
“But Scotland is also very beautiful with some of the best scenery and wildlife I have expereinced. The past few weeks have been beautifully brutal on my paddle board.”
Jordan Wylie’s bid to set SUP record(s)
To set a Guinness World Record of a circumnavigating mainland Britain by stand-up paddleboard (SUP), Jordan, from Hampshire, must return to his start point in Wallasea in less than 365 days. No one has been successful in the attempt before.
If he reaches John o’ Groats, the most northerly point of mainland Scotland, he will also set a record as the first person to SUP from Land’s End to John o’ Groats in open water.
In addition, Jordan has calculated that by the time he reaches Edinburgh, he will have set a new record for the world’s longest journey by SUP, which is currently 1641 miles.
But the main goal of the astonishing challenge is to raise £100,000 for the charity, Frontline Children.
Jordan, who is a dad, said: “When conditions are tough and I am both physically and mentally fatigued, or I am missing my 11-year-old daughter, Evie, I think of the main reason for this paddle, which is to build a new school for children on the Horn of Africa.
“The fund-raising mission – we have raised £21,500 so far – is what keeps me focused and motivated.
“In fact, my support team have worked out that I have raised an amazing £10.42 for every kilometre I have paddled.”
Covid hits fund-raising plans
Before the world record attempt, Jordan, had paddled a stand-up board for only a few hours. His original fund-raising plan had been to run marathons in 10 of the coldest places in the world, including the North Pole and Antarctica.
He said: “All was going very well and between January and March 2020, I completed the first four and ran long-distance extreme endurance runs in Siberia (Russia), Yukon (Canada), Alaska (USA) and Jökulsárlón (Iceland).
“As I was heading to the North Pole, tragically the coronavirus pandemic struck and nearly all challenges were put on hold, cancelled or postponed as part of the lockdown.”
SUP was one of the few activities during lockdown restrictions that was allowed because it allows participants to be socially distanced.
Jordan said: “I decided I would change my charity challenge to a round-Britain record SUP attempt. People said I was mad setting off so late in the year and especially as I would be in Scotland in the winter.”
Thanks to Alfie Marsh for this great footage:
SUPer Jordan arrives in Scotland
On day 103 of the Great British Paddle 2020, Jordan arrived on the Scottish west coast at Campbeltown after paddling 48 miles in one go from Belfast.
He has spent up to 17 hours each day on the SIC SUP board that is just 24ft long and 28 inches wide.
He paddles standing up or kneeling down. He said: “When you are paddle boarding you are in one position for many hours at a time, sometimes you are only paddling on one side because of the wind and tide.
“It is demanding and I often get sore muscles and bad cramps. I also suffer with the cold now I am in Scotland, especially my hands and feet.
“I have had to start wearing a dry suit for warmth instead of a wetsuit.”
A support boat piloted by skipper and friend Max Rivers travels with Jordan. They have a Scottish photographer and film-maker Alfie Marsh on board to record the journey.
The team have very limited access to land because of Covid restrictions.
Jordan said: “I have rarely set foot on dry land because many marinas are closed and we do not want to break the government rules.
“We have been living off Army ration packs and I am missing fresh food. I think this has affected me physically.
“I confess it is getting harder and harder and I have to paddle in short bouts, like micro-paddles, as and when the weather allows.”
Yet Jordan also revealed there have also been many highlights over the past months. He said: “I have had some amazing encounters with wildlife, such as dolphins and seals. We have even seen a shark.
“And I also feel very lucky just now that I am still able to have an adventure during these difficult times.
“It is a very tough challenge but it is also very rewarding.”
See Great British Paddle to follow Jordan’s progress and to donate.