In memory of the thirty-two young Dutchmen who tried to escape to England by Kayak during World War II to join the Allied Forces. Eight of them reached the English Coast.
In late August 2011, Alec Greenwell, Ed Cooper, Harry Franks and Olly Hicks, all from east Suffolk will kayak the same route taken by the Engelandvaarders 70 years earlier. The route they will be following is that of a pair of brothers, Henri and William Peteri, who departed from Katwijk, several miles north of The Hague, and landed on the beach at Sizewell in Suffolk 56 hours later.
The concept of the challenge is simple, but the task is not. The route as the crow flies is approximately 118 miles across open water. With the natural current and prevailing winds against the direction of travel, this makes for a very physically demanding journey.
The North Sea is one of the busiest shipping lanes in the world, with the Dover Straits alone seeing more than 400 commercial ships per day. The direct route will involve crossing four main shipping lanes, involving traffic from Rotterdam, Zeebrugge and Harwich.
It is estimated that the crossing will take approximately 30-35 hours. Kayaking in individual boats, the crossing will be non-stop. The challenges of such an endurance feat are obvious. Most notably, the paddling will need to be constant for the whole of the crossing, so as to not drift backwards against the current. The North Sea is renowned for short "choppy" waves, and the team will have to deal with the impact of these waves on 5 meter kayaks. Finally the sheer length of time that the team will be required to paddle for will be a test of both physical and mental strength.
From Ed Cooper:August 21, 2011.
...a quick update on how we're getting on with the expedition so far. Training has gone well, we've managed a couple of team sessions in Anglesey and Scotland as well as a night session just off the East Coast which was fairly hair raising but very beneficial as we will be spending two nights at sea for the trip. The boats have performed fantastically in all of these, in heavy weather with a bit of load they are sturdy as a rock and at night there was just about enough leg room to slide down to the bulk head and get some kip. This Thursday we had a successful charity drinks event for Combat Stress and The Suffolk Foundation which was good and we managed to raise 600 pounds for the cause.
In regards to media attention the expedition has done even better than expected, we have featured in the regional press for sometime now having articles in the East Anglian, Evening Standard and Suffolk Magazine. More recently as the date of the trip has neared we have had an article in The Lady Magazine which has a readership of 60,000 and on Saturday there was a 2 page spread in De Telegraaf, Hollands most popular newspaper with a readership of over 600,000 people. As well as a number of radio interviews we appeared on BBC and ITV news as we set off from England with the kayaks on our way to Holland, a large crowd had gathered to show their support which was fantastic.
During the trip and on our return we are hoping to gain even more exposure potentially (weather permitting) getting to Sizewell during the 6 o'clock news slots. The weather was set to be correct for Tuesday morning, leaving Katwijk around 3:30 am however it seems to be ever changing and this time may be brought forward slightly.
I would just like to say on behalf of all of us how much your support has meant to the trip both from SeaKayaking UK and Lendal paddles, we really could not have done this without you and we are incredibly grateful. Having never kayaked before this trip it has been a real eye opener to the sport and its something I intend to carry on long after the expedition this week...